( F1 ) - Francis Hotel
- The Francis Exhibition Hall is used for large traveling exhibits and small group meetings or parties.
- The former Francis Hotel was built circa 1913.
- The ground floor space was not used for the hotel – it was always a retail space with storefronts facing Broadway.
- The upper floor housed hotel guests and was accessible from the hotel behind the storefronts.
- 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, and volunteers raised the money to pay to restore the main floor.
- The building is a testament to the civic pride in Excelsior Springs. The original estimate to rehab the Francis was upwards of $150,000; it was rehabbed to its current condition for less than $42,000. Suppliers donated or provided construction materials at a greatly reduced cost.
- Much of the work was done the help of volunteers, including students from the Excelsior Job Corps and the electrical trade classes from the Area Career Center.
- The upper floor – where the guest rooms were located – remains unfinished.
( F2 ) - Signs
- The west wall of the Francis features vintage business signs from the Museum's collections.
- It’s a walk down memory lane for many visitors.
- Note the vintage lamp that highlights this display. The donor thought it was a streetlamp used in Excelsior Springs, but we could not find any pictures that showed this style in the downtown. When Dr. Richard Hedges donated a beautiful oil painting of the Milwaukee Depot, we spotted this lamp on the old building, which was torn down in 1972.
- You can learn more about each of these signs by “touching” the photos on the small monitor provided.
( F3 ) - The Loom
( F4 ) - Story of the Mineral Waters
- Next are a series of displays that tell the story of the significance of the mineral waters to this town.
- At the end of Francis Hall are displays of souvenir ware for visitors sold in gift shops throughout the town in the early to mid-20th
- Several pieces of Redwing pottery are featured: Excelsior Springs was Redwing’s largest customer in the heyday of the mineral waters being shipped all over the nation.
( F5 ) - Amenities
- In time, there was a need for more amenities to entertain visitors and to serve residents.
- There have been three high schools in Excelsior Springs. The first, Wyman, began as a grade school and opened as the high school in 1912.
- The second high school, Roosevelt, featured in this display, was located on the south edge of town. It opened in 1930.
- The current high school was built in 1973 on the west side of town.
The old high school briefly became “East High,” then became the “Roosevelt Middle School.”
- The old building is now privately owned.
( F6 ) - The Railroads
- Bringing all those health seekers to the “Valley of Vitality” were the railroads.
- The Milwaukee Railroad and the Wabash Railroad marketed the town and its mineral waters throughout the nation. Without them, the town might have disappeared.
- In the early years, four railroads served Excelsior Springs. Three came into town, the Wabash, the Interurban electric line, and the Milwaukee line. One, the “dummy line", never left Excelsior Springs. A photo of the “dummy line” shows its track running up what is now a heavily traveled road – Dunbar.
( F7 ) - Lake Maurer
- A local amusement park – Lake Maurer—was a popular destination for locals and for visitors from all over the greater Kansas City area from the 1920s through the early 1960s.
- Note the panorama photo of what was billed as “the world’s largest mineral water swimming pool.” It used water from its saline spring.
( F8 ) - Lake Maurer Train
- The wooden train is a depiction of a kiddie train that was in the park. (It is pictured in the railroad display case.)
- The replica was made in honor of Mary Katherine Maurer Dixon Martz, a local teacher and granddaughter of Jacob Maurer, who founded Lake Maurer with his brother John.
- The late Mrs. Martz also founded the Maurer Foundation, which provides support for larger projects around our Museum.
- This train model 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 things I’ve built 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! He worked on the Gemini project (The Gemini missions were flown in 1965 and 1966.)
( F9 ) - East Wall Photo Murals
( F10 ) - Medical Doctors
- The medical equipment was used by early doctors and dentists.
- These displays show how closely connected the medical community was to the town’s mineral water foundation.
- Multiple generations of doctors were drawn here by the “healing waters,” and used the mineral water in their medical practices – prescribing waters to drink and to bathe in throughout the day along with treatments that might keep patients here for several weeks.