December 5, 2021

Officials hope to reopen Truman Home in Independence

As at the nearby Truman Library and Museum, the keepers worked on plans to reopen the Truman in Independence House.

While the Presidential Library is under the aegis of the National Archives, the Truman House at 219 N. Delaware St., is managed by the National Park Service. The parks department has not reopened the house for interior tours or the visitor center, a few blocks east in the plaza, since March 2020.

“We are all anxious to see COVID in the rearview mirror,” said program director Doug Richardson, but “no decision has been made yet.”

At the end of June, park rangers began offering outdoor tours of the Truman Home complex five days a week, and visitors could also tour inside the Noland Home across Delaware Street, where the cousins ​​lived. By Harry Truman. In addition, rangers offered outdoor tours of the Truman Farm site in Grandview.

But with the colder weather, outdoor tours essentially stopped at both locations, and Richardson said site staff had explored options on how to “better serve our visitors without excessively exposing them to the elements. drives ”on the Delaware Street website. They are also working with public health and Park Service officials on a plan to reopen, taking into account the number of cases in the region.

Even with the tours reimagined this year, Richardson says he believes the rangers were still able to provide a good experience for visitors, noting some features that are usually not highlighted on tours inside. This includes Truman’s 1972 Chrysler, still with less than 20,000 miles.

Harry and Bess Truman's 1972 Chrysler was on display to visitors to Truman Home during their outdoor tours only this year.

“Normally, visitors only have a distant view of the rear bumper,” said Richardson. “But this summer, they had some great close-up views with a photoshoot.”

“It also gave us the opportunity to strengthen the family bond between the Gates, Wallace and Truman families and the Nolands, and the opportunity to remind visitors of the famous history of the cake / dessert plate.”

In this story, a young adult Harry was visiting his cousins ​​and quickly volunteered to bring a borrowed plate across the street to Bess Wallace’s house. It rekindled their relationship.

It wasn’t ideal, says Richardson of the tours, but according to the Park Service tally, they had over 2,300 visitors this year.

“The rangers have done a great job telling the stories of family and the land,” he said.

At Grandview, on Fridays and Saturdays, Rangers explained to visitors how Solomon Young / Truman Farm’s land helped shape Truman’s life and political career – connecting the dots, as Richardson said. Hopefully next spring they can organize indoor tours for the first time in a decade, he added.

Throughout the pandemic, Richardson and others with the Park Service worked with the Truman Library and the Truman Library Institute on some of their virtual programming, and on the historic Truman Home website, they added a feature to describe the historic district, including a photo galleries.

“We are convinced that increased awareness of the historic district and its resources will have long-term impacts on the community’s commitment to preservation for future generations,” said Richardson.

While the online offerings and programs have helped keep Truman interested during the pandemic, Richardson says they still miss the full experience, and the Park Service would likely benefit from the number of visitors when the library reopens. by Truman.

“We are all looking forward to coming back in person,” he said. “Virtual programs are great because they can have global participation. But we can’t wait to be back in person.

“We hope we can coordinate a reopening with the Truman Library, but that is not guaranteed.”

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