The Bingham-Waggoner Estate – Independence, Missouri - Atlas Obscura

The Bingham-Waggoner Estate

This mansion was made famous by its colorful cast of owners and location along the Sante Fe Trail.  

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This historic and well-preserved mansion is one of the most beautiful house museums in Missouri. It also has a rich history dating back to the Civil War and westward expansion.

A house has existed at this location since about 1827, residing alongside the historic Santa Fe Trail. From this location, wagon trains would set out for the west. Early owners of the home saw it as a great place to earn a living covering these caravans. A wagon swale, which is a deep crevice in the ground created by countless wagon wheels, can still be seen on the property. 

The home’s name is derived from some of its most famous residents, 19th-century artist and politician George Caleb Bingham and the Waggoner family, early millers in Perry and Cumberland counties, Pennsylvania.

Bingham and his family moved into the home prior to the outbreak 0f the Civil War. One of the rooms would become his art studio and the birthplace of his most iconic painting. During Bingham’s time at the home, Missouri was under martial law as a result of the Civil War, a status that didn’t please Bingham. After his pleas to remove the status were ignored, he painted his most iconic work, “Order No. 11.” The painting depicts the city burning as a result of countless raids conducted by armed mobs after martial law was declared. The declaration itself was known as, “General Order No. 11.” By 1870, Bingham had already completed a second version of the painting.

The Waggoner clan were flour merchants who purchased the home in 1879 and operated the nearby mill. Their brand known as “Queen of the Pantry Flour,” was famous throughout the midwest. The home remained in the family for three generations, with almost a century-long occupancy. The last resident passed in the 1950s, and the home was purchased by a citizen group in 1979. In conjunction with the city of Independence, the home and about 20 surrounding acres were transformed into the museum and park we see today. 

Know Before You Go

The hours of operation are Monday-Saturday-10:00 am - 4:00 pm. Sundays 1:00 - 4:00 pm. Cost of admission: Adults-$6.00. Seniors 62+ - $5.00. Children/Students 6-16 - $3.00. Groups of 20 or more - $5.00 per person.

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