Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Architectural Independence

Visitors to the Kansas City area do themselves a disservice if they don't make a trip a few miles east of town to Independence. This little town has a lot of historical importance -- home of Harry Truman and site of his Presidential Museum, beginning of the Santa Fe -- and subsequently the Oregon and California -- Trail, and important to Latter Day Saints and their religious off-shoots.

And it presents an interesting variety of architectural styles from its traditional square with its Liberty Hall-influenced Court House to the space-age spiral of the Temple of the Community of Christ (formerly Reorganized Latter Day Saints). We could see the spire in the distance as we approached the town.

Jack and I had toured the Truman Presidential Museum on a previous visit. Of all the presidential museums I've visited (Ford, Reagan, Clinton, Eisenhower, Johnson, Bush, Carter and Clinton) this is my favorite. This time we took a walking tour past the home where Harry and Bess lived from the time of their marriage in 1919. It was the official Summer White House from 1945 to 1953.

The Waggoner-Bingham House was built in 1852 with later expansions. The artist George Caleb Bingham and his wife lived here from 1864 to 1870. This is the "Pink Parlor" -- the furnishings, many original, are turn-of-the-last-century.

We slipped into a prayer service in the Community of Christ Temple and got to hear a hymn played on that impressive organ, a 102-rank Casavante Freres pipe organ. Notice the nautilus-like swirl of the ceiling.

The Second Empire Victorian Vaile Mansion is a real jewel. The painting on the ceiling of this bedroom caused a local scandal.

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