8 fantastic places in President Truman’s independence
Independence, Missouri, located just east of Kansas City, is a charming place full of things to do, see and experience. It is also the hometown of the former US president Harry S. Truman. Many history buffs flock here to trace President Truman’s footsteps. It was there that he grew up, first practiced law and entered politics. After his time in the White House, Truman chose to return to the place he had always called his home.
Here are eight must-see places where you, too, can connect with the life and heritage of the 33rd President.
1. Discover the library and the museum
Perhaps the best place to start your Truman adventure is at Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. Undergoing a $ 30 million renovation, the resort is slated to open this summer, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect: it’s the 75th anniversary of Truman becoming the country’s 33rd president.
The library stores Truman’s personal documents and archives, and various exhibits and artifacts related to his life and presidency can be found in the museum. The yard here is also the final resting place of Truman, who opted for private service in Missouri instead of a state funeral in Washington, DC His wife, Bess; their daughter, Marguerite; and their son-in-law, Clifton Daniel, are also buried here. This is a testament to the importance of independence for the entire Truman family.
Truman’s presidency has been marked by difficult decisions and turbulent times. The son of a Missouri farmer, he rose to the country’s highest office after the death of President Roosevelt in April 1945, and his tenure included the end of World War II, the start of the Cold War, and the start of the war in Korea. . You’ll learn more about these tough calls – and maybe enjoy them all the more – after a visit to the library and museum.
2. Stop at historic sites
The roots of the Truman family were deeply rooted in independence. The magnificent Victorian house where Harry and Bess lived was built by his grandfather in 1867.
Today the house is part of the Harry S Truman National Historic Site. At Harry S. Truman House, you will get an idea of the life of the couple, who moved into the family residence after their honeymoon. They hugged their extended family, sharing the house with Bess’s mother and grandmother. Two of Bess’s brothers also built small houses on the land.
Truman has returned from time to time to the family home on Delaware Street during his presidency, calling it the Summer White House. After the Trumans left Washington for good, this was the place they had chosen to call home again, and for good. They stepped away from the spotlight and opted for simplicity instead.
This desire is reflected in the house. Although large, it offers a very personal look at the life they lived here. While the Trumans sometimes hosted guests in their homes, they were intensely private. After Bess’s death, the house was donated to the National Park Service, and rangers continue to protect the privacy of the family to this day: visitors are not allowed on the second floor of the residence.
The historic site also includes the Noland House just across the street, where Truman’s aunt and uncle lived. One day, while visiting them, they asked Harry to bring a cake plate home across the street. There he reconnected with Bess, and their courtship began. Today, the house explains the deep bonds – and love of the house – that Harry and Bess shared.
Both places – so important and central in Harry S. Truman’s life – are open for free tours, but you must have a ticket. They are available at Visitors center downtown.
3. Visit to the Truman courtroom
Truman’s path to the presidency was a bit unorthodox. He was certainly not prepared from the start for a life in public service. His family couldn’t afford to send him to college, instead, he took on various other jobs, until he followed in his father’s footsteps and cultivated for a while. Upon his return from World War I, he opened – and then closed – a clothing store, and he didn’t become a county judge until his late thirties.
the historic courthouse where Truman presided as a judge now houses the Jackson County Historical Society. The group gives tours of Truman’s office and courtroom. While you’re there, don’t forget to take a selfie with the man himself – a bronze statue of Truman is located on the east side of the courthouse.
It’s hard to take more than a few steps in Independence without stumbling across a Truman landmark. It turns out that it’s easy to combine a good workout with lesser-known Truman locations and spots. It’s also kind of a tribute, as he was known to keep himself in shape by walking around the city before breakfast. He always kept a steady pace, cane in hand.
Keep an eye out for large navy blue signs depicting a silhouette of President Truman near the city center; these indicate areas of interest for those who wish to see additional places or landmarks related to him or his family and friends. There is also a self-guided walking tour available which includes a total of 44 stops along a 2.7 mile route. It’s a great activity for history buffs; download the map or pick one up at the Visitor Center.
5. See where the whistle ended
Truman’s famous Whistlestop campaign took place during the summer and fall of 1948 while he was locked in a reelection battle. He decided to speak directly to the American people, and to as many of them as he could. The resultant 31,000 mile trip was marked by clear speeches and numerous electoral campaigns. The last step ? Independence, of course!
Today, the historic Missouri Pacific Depot where Truman’s country trips ended is perhaps better known as the Truman depot. It is the same place where more than 8,000 people came to welcome Truman to his home years later, in January 1953, after he had left the White House.
Built in 1913, the Truman Depot currently serves as an Amtrak station and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
6. See the spiritual house of the Trumans
Harry S. Truman had known Bess Wallace for most of his life, having first met the blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl in the Sunday School classroom when they were young children. Years later, in 1919, the couple married to Episcopal Church of the Trinity in downtown Independence, which was established during the town’s pioneer days in 1844 and was the Church of Bess. The current building was constructed in 1881 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Trinity truly served as a spiritual center for the Truman family: their daughter, Margaret, married here in 1956; President Truman laid the cornerstone of the Trinity Communion Hall in 1959; and Bess Truman’s funeral was held at the church in 1982.
7. Grab a treat from Clinton’s soda fountain
If, following in Truman’s footsteps, you find yourself ready for a sweet treat, stop by Clinton’s soda fountain on the Historic Independence Square. As a teenager, Truman worked at a drugstore and soda fountain right there. It also housed a shoe and jewelry store, but returned to its old candy store in 1988 when Clinton opened.
The old one Soda fountain offers sundaes, ice cream floats, old fashioned phosphates and even edible cookie dough as well as soups and sandwiches. This place feels like a blast from the past, and it’s not too hard to imagine a young Harry S. Truman wiping down tables, making ice cream, and serving customers. It’s a great place to sit, sip and relax in the historic heart of Independence!
Finally, if you find that you need a little bit of retail work when you learn about Truman’s deep legacy in Independence, head over to Savage about Harry. Named in tribute to the 33rd President, the boutique in the square offers gifts for men, including luxury toiletries, office decor, games and gadgets. This is the perfect place to choose a gift worthy of a president, father, or any other special man in your life!
You could easily spend an entire weekend seeing and experiencing all things Truman in his hometown. Independence offers a wide range of accommodation for all needs and budgets. From historic downtown inns to more traditional hotel chains, the city has a great list hereTo learn more about all the great things to see, do and experience in Independence, consult the city’s online visitor guide and get inspired by all of our Independence content here.