Landing museum transformed into slice of 1850s life

Welcome to the General Store

Michele Blackmore, curator of museum exhibits, carries an empty barrel that will be used in a display as staffers at Missouri State Museum will recreate a general store locale in the basement of the Lohman Building in Jefferson City. The staff has been gathering antique items as well as made-to-look antiques for the store.

Michele Blackmore, curator of museum exhibits, carries an empty barrel that will be used in a display as staffers at Missouri State Museum will recreate a general store locale in the basement of the Lohman Building in Jefferson City. The staff has been gathering antique items as well as made-to-look antiques for the store. Photo by Julie Smith.

Located at the riverboat access and providing the only lodging at the time, Lohman’s Landing was the social center of Jefferson City in the early to mid-1800s.

Capturing the ruggedness of pre-Civil War Missouri and combining it with modern museum trends, the Missouri State Museum has refashioned the visitors center as an 1850s general store.

The museum reopened for spring visitors Friday.

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The Missouri State Museum general store in the Lohman Building.

Visitors in the next few weeks will see that added bonus of how museum staff create exhibits, as the two-room renovation is still in progress.

Shelves are being filled with reproduction wares like fabric bolts, bonnets and hats, glass bottles and wooden toys. And Missouri State Parks construction crews are building finishing features, including a large timeline of the building’s 175-year history.

Throughout the year, staff hope to receive feedback about the more hands-on exhibit concept. They hope to incorporate those suggestions into future exhibits, including the museum halls at the Capitol, said Director Linda Endersby.

More than 11,000 visitors toured the Lohman’s Landing center last year.

“We want to make it a draw rather than that thing you do,” Endersby said.

Wooden tools, bearskin coats, a rope-making machine and more should trigger the senses and the imaginations of the student, as well as adult, visitors, she said.

Smells of cedar, coffee and spices will fill the air and the sounds of steamboat whistles and hoofbeats on cobblestone will add to the atmosphere.

It will be apparent that food, clothing and in some cases tools were not pre-made or prepackaged. Rather, individuals bought yards of fabric to make their own clothes or individual ingredients to make meals and other household items.

Eventually, staff hopes the general store counter will be a fully-functioning retail outlet for Missouri-made crafts, toys and spices.

“We hope to expand to hopefully be a place local people will want to come and buy things, too,” Endersby said.

Legitimate artifacts and panels of historic information still will be part of the exhibit space, but not the focus.

The transportation pieces that were displayed there, including a surrey, bicycles and saddles, have been stored in the museum’s climate-controlled facility or returned to lenders.

But many pieces will be cycled in and out of the museum as time goes on.

“We have ay too much story for this space,” Endersby said. “So, over time, we can tell the whole story.”

Additionally, the high humidity and potential for flooding did not present the safest location for the artifacts’ long-term exposure, she said.

The renovated museum space was timed in advance of the Lohman Building’s 175th anniversary in 2014.

Named for Charles Lohman, who was not the first owner but who owned it the longest, the initial part of the building was erected in 1839.

Between then and the 1960s, when the state took possession, the site housed the telegraph and postal offices, served as store and warehouse, offered lodging and a saloon, and even a location for entrepreneurial ventures.

“Pre-Civil War, it was a very happening location,” Endersby said. “Even early legislators found lodging there.

The average citizen today probably doesn’t realize how busy the north end of Jefferson Street once was, she said.

“It’s important to understand how people used to live and how things have changed,” Endersby said. “Then they can have a sense of how things may change for them in the next 50 years.”

Interested?

The Lohman Building visitors center at the Missouri State Parks’ Jefferson Landing State Historic Site is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday through Labor Day.

www.mostateparks.com/page/55181/jefferson-landing-tours

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