( F1 ) - Francis Hotel
Next door is the former Francis hotel, which was built circa 1913.
- The former hotel is a brick building with a red tile mansard roof. It once housed hotel guests on its upper floor and retail space on the main level. Today it is used as the Museum’s Francis Exhibition Hall and also for small group meetings or parties.
- The Francis was in very bad shape when the Museum obtained it in 2003. You could see through to the basement and the ceiling needed significant repairs. It remained dormant until 2006 when an upcoming Smithsonian exhibit required more floor space than the bank side had available.
- A group of local people decided the Francis needed to be rehabbed to hold the museum’s showcases during the exhibition.
- Volunteers raised the money to restore the main floor. A local contractor provided two key elements: money and manpower: his contractors installed heating and air conditioning; replaced windows; repaired flooring; plastered the walls; and tinned the ceiling. The upper floor – where the guest rooms were located – remains unfinished.
( F2 ) - Wall Murals
A long photo mural on the east wall of the Francis shows mineral water pavilions, hotels, railroads, parades, and other scenes from the early days of this town. One of them in 1908 was for Teddy Roosevelt’s Vice President Charles Fairbanks.
( F3 ) - Ancestral Trails
- Excelsior Springs did not exist until 60 years after Missouri became a state in 1821, but early settlers began pouring into this area by 1818.
- They were settling the Fishing River valley. (Excelsior Springs straddles the Fishing River townships of Clay and Ray counties.)
- These six panels (or the touchscreen if you prefer) tell the story of where those early settlers came from, how they got here, and what life was like for them in those early years. You’ll see lots of local names that are still familiar here today.
( F4 ) - Signs
- On the west wall are vintage business signs from our collections.
- It’s a walk down memory lane for many visitors.
- Note the vintage street lamp that highlights this display. The donor thought it was a street lamp used in Excelsior Springs, but we could not find any pictures that showed this style in the downtown. But look at the oil painting of the Milwaukee Depot (also donated by Dr. Richard Hedges) and you’ll see a lamp on the building that appears to be just like this one.
( F5 ) - Loom
( F6 ) - Redwing Pottery
Significant pieces of Redwing pottery are featured in the display cases at the end of Francis Hall. Excelsior Springs was Redwing’s largest customer in the heyday of the mineral waters being shipped all over the nation.
( F7 ) - High School Display
What was called the Excelsior Springs High School was located on the south edge of town. It opened in 1930. After the new high school was built in 1972-73 on the west side of town, it became East High or Roosevelt High for a time, and later Roosevelt Middle School.
( F8 ) - Lake Maurer Display
The Lake Maurer display shows a panorama photo of what was billed as the world’s largest mineral water swimming pool. It was saline water from a nearby spring.
( F9 ) - Railroad Display
Without the railroads, the town might have disappeared. In the early years, there were four railroads serving Excelsior Springs. Three traveled in and out of town: the Wabash, the Interurban electric line, and the Milwaukee line. One – the “dummy” line or Sulpho-Saline Railroad – never left Excelsior Springs. Its track went up what is now a heavily traveled street – Dunbar. The Milwaukee Railroad in particular had a lot to do with marketing the town and its mineral waters throughout the nation.
( F10 ) - Medical Displays
The medical displays in the Francis Hall side of our Museum tell the story of the significance of the mineral waters, which not only were the reason the town was founded, but were used in the practices of multiple generations of local doctors and in the local health clinics and hospitals over the years. The medical, optical and dental equipment was used by local doctors. There’s more information about them in the display.
( F11 ) - Francis Windows
- Don’t miss the displays in the front windows of the Francis, which are generally rotated every three months.
- Right now they’re tied in to the Waterfest; the 4th of July; and in August, we’re goin’ fishin’.