by Pat McGrath Avery
Military Writers Society of America
A lot can be learned from old historic buildings and the Old Stagecoach Stop is a prime example. From architectural style to owners and purposes, a building speaks for itself.
Located on the square in Waynesville, off Interstate 44, the building is the oldest remaining building in Pulaski County, Missouri, and has a long and varied history.
William Walton McDonald purchased the land in 1854 with the intent of building a hotel for the St. Louis to Springfield stagecoach route. Built in sections, the building became a double pen log structure.
Starting as a single pen- a one-room log cabin with a door in front and an exterior chimney on one side- the building then became a double pen structure when another pen was added next to it. Over the years, owners added a second story and an extension.
During the Civil War, Union troops built a fort on a hill above Waynesville and commandeered the stagecoach hotel for a hospital.
After the war, the railroad came to the Ozarks serving other towns nearby. Waynesville lost its importance as a stopover when the stagecoach disappeared. However, a string of owners kept the hotel open over the years.
Saved by the building of Route 66, the area once again became a travel stopover. The hotel remained open and at one point, part of the building housed a dentist office. Then in 1941 and the building of Ft. Leonard Wood, the hotel became home to construction workers and army personnel.
The hotel remained open until the 1960’s. After twenty years of abandonment, the city of Waynesville condemned the structure, but thanks to caring citizens, the building was purchased and restored.
Today it serves as a museum where Pulaski County volunteers treat it with loving care and will gladly share its story with anyone gifted with curiosity or a love of history.
This article first appeared in “Dispatches”- the quarterly publication of the Military Writers Society of America. To view the issue in its entirety please visit www.mwsadispatches.com/dispatches/2016/1/17/winter-2016
Military Writers Society of America is hosting “Pulaski County Missouri History Crawl” September 30th through October 2nd, 2016 in Saint Robert, Missouri. This event will especially appeal to authors, historians, researchers, photographers, journalists, bloggers, and educators. Learn more at http://slate.adobe.com/cp/EDCUA. History Crawl spaces are limited, make your reservation today by contacting Pat Avery at firstname.lastname@example.org.