Main Street, Franklin Avenue and South Street from 13th to 20th Streets comprise the District. These streets are lined with antebellum (pre-Civil War) homes, both mansions and cottages built in virtually every popular architectural style from the 1830s to the present. Many of the original owners rest in Machpelah Cemetery, along with Civil War soldiers and Mormon victims of the Saluda disaster. Enjoy the historic architecture on these tree-lined streets where covered wagons and carriages traveled long ago. Included in this area are several historic homes that are now bed and breakfast inns. Along Main Street this area includes a playing field called the “Goose Pond,” built in the ravine in 1913 using mule teams. WPA workers added concrete bleachers during the Depression. The Maid-Rite Drive-In Restaurant has been a Lexington landmark since the 1940s. The 1899 Gothic Revival Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on Main was built for Irish and Italian immigrants who came to work in the coal mines.
The Santa Fe Trail originally ran down South Street. On the corner of 13th & South is the old William Bradford Waddell mansion, which after the Pony Express failed, he sold to the Baptist Female College, which Harry Truman’s mother attended in the late 1860s. Next door is a home built around 1845. Cannonballs went through its walls during the Battle of Lexington. It later became the home of a great-nephew of Daniel Boone. Columns were added around 1900 when the house became the music conservatory for the college. Also in this historic area is the largest Queen Anne house in Lexington. Built in the 1880s, it features a turret, tower, wraparound veranda, stained glass windows, decorative chimneys and pinnacles on the peaks. During the Battle of Lexington, a Missouri State Guard cannon was set up in the front yard of the house across the street with a straight shot down 16th street to Federal headquarters in the Masonic College.
The Winkler brothers, who came from Germany before the Civil War, originally operated the funeral home on South Street. Their furniture factory, which was located across the street, also made coffins. The family of Sam Walton, founder of WalMart also resided on South when he was a child. Just four blocks to the South is the north gate of the famous Machpelah Cemetery. Dating to 1849, this is the oldest incorporated cemetery in Missouri. For a brief tour including most of the older section, enter at the north gate and circle around to the south gate. Victims of the Saluda disaster in 1852 were buried in Machpelah in a mass grave. When the Missouri State Guard entered Lexington, they skirmished with Federal soldiers here in an engagement later called “The Battle Over The Dead.” There are many examples of elaborate funerary stonework, as well as ironwork produced at the Morrison Foundry. The kiosk near the south gate offers computerized access to each known grave.
Lexington Tourism Bureau | 1110 Main St. | Lexington, MO 64067 | 660-259-4711 | tourism@VisitLexingtonMo.com
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