Tablet Tour 2021 - Bank

( B1 ) - Welcome


Welcome • Hello, welcome to the Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives! • This building was built as the Clay County State Bank. Our museum has been here since 1969, after the bank had built its new bank down the street. The bank sold this building to the city for a nominal fee to be used as a museum. The city eventually decided they didn’t want to be in the business of maintaining a hundred year old building, and the Chamber then took it on, but soon came to the same conclusion. The Museum then obtained title to it and the dilapidated former hotel building next door, again, for a nominal fee. But we don’t receive any funding from the city – we begin at zero to raise the money to fund our operations each year.

( B2 ) - Hedges Display


Hedges Display

  • This year we are displaying significant pieces mostly donated by Dr. Richard C. Hedges, a longtime supporter of our museum. He is a grandson of the founder of the McCleary Clinic here. Dr. Hedges was the last chief of staff before McCleary’s closed in 1972.
  • This display is not really about the McCleary Clinic (that story is told elsewhere in our museum) but rather about the overall impact of this family, especially the Hedges, on our local community for generations. The large oil painting is of Dr. Hedges’s grandfather, A.S. McCleary, McCleary’s founder. This painting was hung in the lobby of clinic.

( B3 ) - Brunke Display


Brunke Display

The Museum is celebrating the 100th anniversary of two longtime pillars of the business community – the Griffey Insurance Agency and this one, Brunke’s Hardware.

  • The Brunke display tells the story of the past 100 years of Brunke Hardware. Locals all seem to have a favorite story of the now-closed hardware store. It opened in 1921 after the founder, August Brunke, had visited Excelsior Springs to, “take the waters.” He returned to open his hardware store with sons Cecil and John. Son, Eugene, ran the Brunke salvage yard across from Lake Maurer. The display features many family photos and photos of store locations and warehouses, along with quotes from local people who shared their memories in a recent Facebook post – including what EVERYONE here always said: “If Brunke's doesn’t have it, you don’t need it.”

( B4 ) - Tripp Flag


Tripp Flag

  • A small print of the “Tripp Flag” also known as “Our Flag” is posted in several places around the Museum.
  • The original oil painting is about 6 feet tall and still belongs to the family.
  • The artist was Fred Tripp, from Beloit, Wisconsin, who was a patient at McCleary’s around 1937.
  • We believe this is the only image of the flag at peace. We often spot it in movies or tv shows as part of the set decoration for an office scene.
  • Tripp was a sign painter and interior decorator who reportedly had never had a lesson in fine art painting.
  • After a nationwide tour, Tripp presented the original to the McCleary’s, and it was hung in the hospital lobby.
  • The small lithograph prints were sent all over the nation to McCleary patients. McCleary’s printed 200,000 in 1940 alone.

( B5 ) - Lake Maurer Train


Lake Maurer Train

  • The Lake Maurer Train was built for us in 2011 by Ray Fernandez, who stops by regularly to give it a touch up (we welcome children to climb aboard and ring the bell.) During one visit, he told us, “You know, I got to thinking, and I now have something in two museums – this one in Excelsior Springs, and down in Florida, I have a space shuttle!” It turns out he was a NASA engineer before he retired!
  • The kiddie train was made in honor Mary Katherine Martz, a local teacher and a granddaughter of Jacob Maurer. Jacob and his brother John founded Lake Maurer.
  • Lake Maurer was a large amusement park popular from the 1920s through the early 1960s.

( B6 ) - Excelsior Springs Video


Would you be interested in watching a 12-minute video on the history of Excelsior Springs?

( B7a ) - Vault Door


  • The round vault door at the south end was installed during the 1919 expansion. It weighs 10 tons, or 20,000 pounds, but it can be moved easily. Take a look at the huge hinges – the reason it is so perfectly balanced. Visitors often ask if they’ll get locked in, but the pins are removed so that can’t happen.
  • There is a second vault on this floor opposite the military room. It houses our archive of vertical files, including surnames, businesses, streets, schools and other topics, along with books, city directories, maps and photographs.

( B7b ) - Marble Plaques


  • Outside this vault are two large marble plaques that are from the pavilion erected in 1917 on the site of the first spring, the Siloam Spring. Kansas City landscape architect George Kessler designed beautiful grounds for the 1917 Siloam Spring’s domed pavilion, and he created a landscape plan for parkway drives throughout the town to the Elms Hotel and Golf Hill. His design was never fully realized, but you can still get glimpses of some of the plan when you drive around town. The marble plaques were removed when the pavilion was torn down about 1935 to make way for the Hall of Waters.
  • There is a marble piece that came from the Bates & Wilcox grocery store at 205 West Broadway.

( B8 ) - Military Room


  • Our volunteers gave our Military Room a fresh look this past winter, with a new focus on World War II. This year is the 80th anniversary of the United States entrance into war. You will see a timeline of major events, photos of local veterans divided by “land, sea and air.” The “Home Front” display focuses on what was happening locally during those years of service and sacrifice, scrap drives, large numbers of women joining the work force at munitions plants, and victory gardens. Everyone pitched in for the war effort.
  • There are binders with information and photos of local veterans.

( B9 ) - Pump Organ


• The pump organ came from the home of a descendant of one of the earliest families in Clay County. [The Means family.] • It was played in their home in Excelsior Springs.
• It was made by A.B. Chase Organ Company of Norwalk, Ohio.

( B10 ) - Victrola


  • The Victrola was made by the Victor Talking Machine Company based in Camden, N.J. It still works.
  • Donated to the museum by Stewart McCaskill.
  • It was sold by Jenkins Music Co., in Kansas City, in 1925 and shipped to Excelsior Springs.
  • During that same period, Victrolas were sold in Excelsior Springs at the Bill Sisk Book Store (once located three doors east of the museum), and at the Kimber jewelry store on South Street.

( B11 ) - Morse Living Room


New to the Morse living room space this year is the addition of light boxes for the stained glass ovals from the Morse mansion, which was located on what we now call Job Corps Hill.

  • Notice the small picture of the mansion on the mantel. It shows one of the stained glass windows in the mansion.
  • The mansion belonged to Erastus Livingston, "E L", Morse, who came to Excelsior Springs to operate a drug store and later became the town’s first attorney. He was later involved in the Elms Hotel. He and his brother built the 1300 seat Music Hall auditorium, which faced the Elms Hotel, and later became the Music Hall bath house and sanitarium. After the Music Hall burned in 1908, he began developing the commercial block buildings on Thompson Avenue.

( B12 ) - Founding Family


 This year’s Founding Family exhibit from the Excelsior Springs Genealogy Society features surprising new information related to both Travis Million and his father-in-law, Calloway Finley. It includes two binders of Million and Finley family history.
• Travis Million is credited with being involved in discovering the “healing properties” of the local mineral water springs.
• Million threshed the last wheat field for landowner Anthony Wyman before Excelsior Springs was founded.
• After the town was established, Travis Million is known to have worked at the springs and pavilions.
• Calloway Finley's story is also significant to Excelsior’s early history. While Travis Million arrived here as a free man, Calloway Finley was enslaved on land owned by Travis Finley, which is now a large part of King’s Addition at the north edge of town.
• Travis Finley, in his will of 1857, wanted his four adult slaves to be freed upon his death, and he also wanted them to get $100 each.
• They were freed before his death because Travis Finley did not die until after the Civil War. We have no documentation that his bequest was honored – BUT in that same year, Calloway Finley bought about 40 acres of land, right next to Anthony Wyman. Calloway’s land was on the west side of the original downtown.
• When he died, Calloway’s heirs sold the land, and it is where the early landmark, the Music Hall auditorium was built.

( B13 ) - Teller Cages


We use the bank teller cages to display various equipment used by local businesses, including this bank:

  • Linotype Printing Press was used by early Excelsior printer J.B. Hyder before 1900.
  • Adding Machine with Red Buttons purchased by the Clay County State Bank in 1931.
  • The bank president at the time, W.T. Kemper Jr. gave it to Sam Sherwood, a local Realtor who was this museum’s first president.
  • Bank ledgers: The accounts would have to be balanced out each day by hand. No computers! Note the differences in penmanship of 1925, 1941, and 1960.

( B14 ) - Beauty Shop


  • The Helene Curtis Tru-Art permanent wave machine was manufactured in Chicago.
  • It was used in Mary Lee’s Beauty Shop in the Odd Fellows Building at Spring and Thompson Avenue in Excelsior Springs.
  • Some of our volunteers call that our “torture device,” and that may not be too far wrong if you notice the expression on young Virginia Dykes’s face in the photo (dated 1932.)
  • The beautician would curl your hair around a metal curler, clip on the business end of this device, and shoot 110 volts, 1650 watts through your hair.
  • Equipment in pink box: Came from the Martinez School of Cosmetology (located here in the 1970s at the north end of Broadway, although the equipment is much older.

( B15 ) - Elms China


  • We have many souvenir pieces from the Elms Hotel over the years. This display focuses on The Elms china. The “fancier” pieces are sets used in hotel guest rooms, while the china was used in the dining room. Take a close look at the logo – the Elm tree spells out the name of the hotel.

( B16 ) - Griffey Centennial


  • The other business centennial we’re celebrating this year is that of the Griffey Insurance Agency.
  • The Brunkes mentioned earlier always claimed they were here longer than the Griffeys, but the display case features founder William J. Griffey’s day ledger, which begins with three transactions on Jan. 1, 1921. This firmly establishes Griffey Insurance as the second longest local business still in operation here (after the Standard newspaper).
  • William J. Griffey was the first of four “Bill Griffeys” holding forth at the intersection of Spring Street and Thompson Avenue. Griffey Insurance has served generations of local families and businesses with their insurance needs.

( B17 ) - Gift Shop


  • In our gift shop you will find T shirts, books on local history, Tripp Flag lithographs, postcards and more.