Tablet Tour 2024 - Bank

( B1 ) - Welcome


Hello, welcome to the Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives!

We are a private nonprofit museum established in 1967.

Our collections and archives are housed in these two historically significant buildings: the former Clay County State Bank and the Francis Hotel, both of which date to the early days of the previous century.

Our museum is entirely staffed by volunteers – we have no paid staff, nor do we receive any tax funding.

Our Volunteers create several new displays each year. With more than 36,000 items preserved in our collections, we like to rotate items each year and tell new stories from our local history.

The Display Cases in the middle of the floor are original to the bank. We use them to display smaller items from our collections.

( B2 ) - Clay County State Bank


  • The former bank was founded in 1894.
  • It was located two blocks south of this current location.
  • In 1902, William S. Woods, a Kansas City financier, acquired controlling interest in the bank, which was among many banks he eventually owned regionally.
  • William S. Woods was head of the bank when this building was designed by noted regional architect Louis S. Curtiss.
  • The bank opened in this location in 1906.
  • The site had previously been part of the hotel grounds for the town’s first hotel, The Excelsior Hotel.
  • The bank building is in the Italian Renaissance style with a classical temple front.
  • Many of the features you see are original to the bank, including the marble tile floors, mahogany fixtures and wrought brass grating.
  • The barrel vault ceiling is studded with 112 electrical lights. Five years ago, with a grant from Ameren, LED lights were installed in this ceiling and throughout the museum.
  • The Woodses left money for the William Woods Christian Church building here on Concourse and for the William Woods College in Fulton, Mo.

( B3 ) - Louis S. Curtiss

  • This building is one of only about 35 structures designed by Louis S. Curtiss that are still standing, many in the greater Kansas City area.
  • Curtiss was known for his use of the “curtain wall” construction, which generations later made the modern skyscraper possible.
  • This type of construction features metal girders and large glass walls that hang off them, rather than solid block walls.

( B4 ) - The Murals


The murals at each end of the ceiling were painted before 1920 by the Hungarian Count Edmond de Szaak.

  • “The Angelus" on the north wall and “The Gleaners”, above the vault may be very familiar to you.
  • These are copies of the originals painted by Jean Francois Millet that hang in museums in France.
  • The murals were painted here more than 100 years ago, and even though they are not the originals, we consider them local treasures.

( B5 ) - Hinges of History


The first set of displays tells the story of horses to cars in our town.  See the interesting saddle one of our volunteers had in her horse barn?  If you look at the first case you can find pictures of early (late 1800’s to early 1900’s) pictures of livery stables in Excelsior.  A livery stable is a store where you could rent, house, or buy a horse or horse and buggy to shop or just see the town and country. There were five of these buildings in Excelsior Springs. They also had horse clubs you could join to ride your horse.

Now go to the back of the case and look at the picture of the horse and buggy of the McDavid family in town. They had one of the largest livery stables.  On the wall, you can see a dress and hat a woman might wear when riding in the buggy if she was going somewhere special for the day!

The next case shows unique items used almost 100 years ago.  See the black light on the top shelf that could be both on a horse buggy or an early car.  On the bottom shelf, you see an old quilt that might have been used when it was cold in both an open-air buggy or a Model T open- air Ford or car of any brand. Many of the people at that time thought that cars could never replace the horse and buggy, but soon the cars started to become very popular.

The McDavid family sold their business to the McGinnesses who sold to the Dixons who then sold to the Andersons.  The back of Case 2 starts the story of the Anderson family who now sell Ford cars in Excelsior Springs and are celebrating their 50th year in business.  Look at the cool miniature cars.  Is not the orange and white convertible cool?

Enjoy viewing the Anderson family and their accomplishments throughout the fifty years in business. Cars did replace horses our history!

( B6 ) - Lake Maurer Train

  • This train is a wooden replica of a kiddie train that was at Lake Maurer.
  • 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.
  • During one visit, he told us, “You know, I got to thinking, and I now have things 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.)
  • We welcome children to climb aboard and ring the bell.

( B7 ) - Waring Brothers


The first case of the Waring Brothers introduces you to the family.  Four brothers in a family of seven children all served in World War I.  World War I happened in Europe over 110 years ago (1914-1918).  The triangular blue star flag has four stars on it to represent the four brothers. It hung in their mother’s window to show her sons Claude, Alba, Bert, and George Washington Waring were all in the war.  You can find out when they were born and information about each one if you choose to read about them on the front and back of Case 1.

 In Case 2 there is a big picture showing the soldiers of WWI being trained and getting ready to go to war.  Look at the big blue duffel bag.  Bert lost that bag in the sea when he was going home.  It was in the water for a long time.  After the war had ended his mother got it delivered to her in the mail!  What a surprise it was for her and Bert to see his lost bag!

The next case shows samples of the many letters that the four men wrote to each other and to their mother.  Claude was actually in the United States, but the other three boys were in France.  They collected pictures of France and a book about France.  It was popular during WWI to write letters of their adventures because, of course, there were not telephones or IPhones at that time in our history.

The front side of Case 4 shows medals and certificates of Bert Benjamin and George Washington Waring.  The big certificate on the top shelf was awarded to Bert because he was injured in a fierce battle during the war.

The back side of Case 4 honors Richard Waring who was Bert’s son.  Before he passed away in 2022. Richard gave all the items in the Waring Cases to the museum.  We appreciate people in our community who donate items to the Museum.

( B8 ) - Video Area

  • The round vault door at the south end weighs 20,000 pounds, but it can be moved easily because it is perfectly balanced on its huge hinges. 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 folders with information on local families, businesses, streets, schools and other topics, along with books, city directories, maps and photographs.
  • 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 domed pavilion. His design was never fully completed, but you can still see evidence of his work in the remnants of beautiful parks and parkways throughout town. The marbles were removed when the pavilion was torn down in 1935 to make way for the Hall of Waters.

( B9 ) - Military Room


          Before you go into the Military Room, you might want to watch the 13-minute video on the history of Excelsior Springs on the television in front of the vault. Then go to the large TV and see if you might be interested in looking at some facts about Excelsior Springs, or sit before the third TV in the area to learn about WWI items.

          Turn left into the Military room.  The pilots and soldiers or WWI used tin dishes and many wore gas masks. You can find those in the first case. On the wall is a list of all the soldiers from Excelsior who served in WWI. Can you see the name Lester Rowland? He is the man who donated the panorama of lead soldiers. That display is neat!  It looks like a camp set up in France.  Can you find dogs, motorcycles, or nurses?  Next are authentic uniforms and coats worn in WWI. Have you ever seen an old phonograph player?  It plays records that have songs or stories on them.  The On the Home Front wall shows that at home in the United States, women were busy knitting gloves for the soldiers and they also helped to sew items.  Look for the walnuts.  The old walnut trees were cut down to make the guns used by the men in the trenches.

          The small TV in the room shows a picture and short biography of several of the men from Excelsior Springs who served in the military for the last 100 plus years.  If you are from here and know a man or woman who served in the military, type in their name and see if we have him or her listed. Always remember the hard sacrifice of those who have helped our United States by serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and other branches of the military!

( B10 ) - Morse Living Room

  • The “Morse Living Room” features key artifacts from the Erastus Livingston Morse mansion that once was located on Beacon Hill -- what we now call “Job Corps Hill.”
  • Featured are stained glass windows from the mansion, a stunning mantel and mirror, and a candelabra on an urn. Note the Christian symbolism featured on the urn.
  • The fine china dinner plates were used by the Morses when they hosted the sitting Vice President of the U.S., here to lecture in 1908. He was Charles Fairbanks, Teddy Roosevelt’s Vice-President. You will see a large photo of the parade honoring him on the east wall of the Francis.
  • A round tea table from the Marguerite Morse McConnell estate and period mahogany armchairs from the estate of a former teacher, Jane Blattner, add warmth to the room.

( B11 ) - Founding Family

  • This year’s Founding Family exhibit from the Excelsior Springs Genealogy Society features the Isley Family, whose name still dots the local landscape, including Isley Boulevard (Highway 10) in what we call the East End of Excelsior Springs.
  • There also was an Isley elementary school, and Isley filling stations and grocery stores.

( B12 ) - Teller Cages

  • The mahogany teller cages are original to the bank. The devices on display include adding machines and coin counters used in early businesses here.
  • Also original to the bank are the bank registers in the second stall. Note the examples of beautiful penmanship over the years.

( B13 ) - Beauty Shop

  • In the “Beauty Shop” area, many items were donated by Louella Shelton, who ran Martinez School of Cosmetology here for many years. The school was named for her foreign exchange student, Reme Martinez.
  • The Helene Curtiss machine created the permanent wavy or curly hairdo popular in the 1930s (the “Marcel wave.”)
  • Hair is curled around a metal curler and the contraption is clipped onto the curler. With 110 volts of electricity, it will definitely “curl your hair.”

( B14 ) - Gift Shop


• Our gift shop has a selection of Excelsior Springs souvenir T-shirts, books on local history, Tripp Flag lithographs, postcards and more.

( B15 ) - Elms China

  • This display case includes many artifacts used in the Elms Hotel and Snapp Hotel over the years. The fine china pieces were used in Elms guest rooms and in the dining room. Take a close look at the logo on the dining room china – the Elm tree spells out the name of the hotel.

( B16 ) - When Tobacco Was Cool


Before you step down to our Francis side, look to your right at the Tobacco display.

At one time before people knew the health risks, tobacco was considered “cool.” Many businesses in Excelsior Springs gave away or sold things that related to smoking like matchbooks and ashtrays.

Look at the picture of the woman who is smoking a cigarette.  She was a movie star from Excelsior.  She is Brenda Joyce who played "Jane" of the old time Tarzan movies from 1945 to 1949.

These wide range of tobacco-related artifacts are from our collections.