Historic Site Plans

at Harry S Truman Birthplace State Historic Site

Conceptual Development Plan

May 2002

Established: 1959
Size: .82 acres, 6 lots
Location: Barton County



The mission of Harry S Truman Birthplace State Historic Site is to preserve, restore and interpret the nationally significant birthplace of Harry S Truman, 33rd President of the United States of America, and to interpret the John A. Truman family within the context of life in Lamar, Mo. during the late 19th century.


On May 8, 1884, Harry S Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, was born in Lamar, Mo. Although the Trumans lived in Lamar for only ten months following Harry's birth, the birthplace is of state and national significance for several reasons. It conveys the humble beginnings of Harry S Truman who later became Missouri's only president, often highlighted as one of the greatest presidents in American history. Additionally it interprets the Truman family within to help visitors understand life in rural Missouri during the late 19th century.

In 1957 the Missouri Park Board received the title to the property that included the birthplace home, outbuildings and landscape as a gift from the United Auto Workers Union. On April 19, 1959, the restored birthplace was dedicated to the public. The site currently consists of six city lots. The birthplace lot contains the birthplace, smokehouse, well, privy and two commemorative monuments. The site office lot contains the site office and a small maintenance shop. The third lot is currently vacant but Mr. John Truman's livery/stable was located on it in 1884. The livery/stable lot, formerly two city lots, is vacant except for an existing garage, currently used for storage and maintenance activities. 

  • Preserve, restore, rehabilitate or reconstruct historic buildings, structures, objects and landscape features to enhance public enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of the site.
  • Protect, preserve, acquire and exhibit collections to enhance public enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of the site.
  • Provide visitor orientation, research and interpretation facilities to enhance public enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of the site.
  • Provide a coherent and aesthetically pleasing vehicular and pedestrian circulation system to ensure public safety, security and convenience.
  • Provide administrative, operational and maintenance support facilities to protect, secure and maintain the resources of this site, as well as Battle of Carthage and Osage Village state historic sites.
  • Promote the establishment of a historical zone to preserve and protect the current residential context of the neighborhood adjacent to the site, and protect the extended neighborhood from further commercial encroachments.

Seek Rezoning and Establish a Historic District
An important aspect to the development and long-term public enjoyment of the birthplace site is protecting/preserving it from non-compatible adjacent land uses.

One measure to prevent this from happening is through zoning. Current zoning of certain properties adjacent to the site would have a severe impact on the site if the allowed zoned use replaced the existing residences.

A related measure in protecting the site from non-compatible adjacent land uses is the establishment of a Truman Birthplace Historic District. The city of Lamar will be approached to seek the establishment of a historic district around the site and rezoning of all adjacent non-compatibly zoned properties.

Develop Contact Station/Office

The contact station/office will be housed in a reconstruction of the Franklin School at its original location. The school was one of four elementary ward schools that existed at the time of Truman's birth. It was located due south of the birthplace home. The Franklin School was a two-story structure that measured approximately 40' x 60'. The building will accommodate the site's administrative offices, AV room, gift shop, program space, storage and exhibits.

Adjacent to the building will be an entrance courtyard and an 11-car parking lot. RV and bus parking will be accommodated through pull-offs located on Truman and 11th streets. A pedestrian system of walks will connect the contact station/office to the birthplace site, the mule barn/livery stable and the bus/RV parking areas.

The existing site office and the existing gift shop/restrooms building (original site office) will be demolished. The existing monuments shall be relocated along the walks in the Franklin School area. The existing flagpoles shall be removed from the birthplace site. A new flagpole shall be erected on the belfry of the Franklin School. Vegetative screening shall be installed around this development for viewshed protection.

Reconstruction of the Franklin School will help recreate the historical context of the neighborhood at the time of Harry's birth in addition to its administrative, public contact and sales functions. The reconstruction of the Franklin School and the removal of all modern buildings will also eliminate public confusion on where tours begin, the location of the site's office and where souvenirs can be purchased. Noise and safety factors will be allocated by having tours start inside.

Funding for this project is expected to be the responsibility of the citizens of Lamar, Barton County and friends of the site. However, the Division of State Parks will cover the cost of land acquisition, utilities, staffing, site improvements and exhibits.

Essential documentary research and historical archaeology shall be conducted prior to design and development of this facility. The primary purpose of the archaeological survey work will be to determine the exact size and location of the Franklin School. Artifacts discovered in the survey will be used for interpretive purposes. Documentary research needs to be done to determine what the other two sides of the Franklin School looked like.

Develop Service Area

A service complex will be constructed on Parcel 1, Block 3 (Approx. 110 'x 257' x 60' x 261'). Complex shall consist of a service building, equipment storage building, flammable liquids and gases structure, access road, staff parking and truck maneuvering space. A vegetative screen shall be provided to conceal this area from public view. The complex shall be fenced and gated for security. Building designs and materials shall conform to the design theme to the extent possible. Essential documentary research and historical archaeology shall be conducted prior to development due to potential historical livestock activity associations.

Develop Livery Area/Mule Barn

After completion of essential documentary research and historical archaeology, the livery stable and mule barn that was owned and operated by the Truman family will be reconstructed. Reconstruction of this building will enhance the historical context of the neighborhood at the time the future president was born. Work will include the installation of an appropriate period paddock, carriage, harnesses, yokes, etc.

Period Landscaping

After completion of essential documentary research on the landscape history of the site, a period landscaping plan will be developed and implemented to restore the landscape as it appeared during the interpretive period. Work to include the installation of selected plant materials and other landscape features.


Listed in order of priority:

Unit #1
Parcel 1, Block 3. Adjacent property due east of Cain property. For service complex.

Unit #2
Parcel 2, Block 29. Adjacent property due west of existing office. For contact station/office

Unit #3
Parcel 9, Block 29. Due south of parcel 10. For contact station/office development.

Unit #4
Parcels 7 and 8, Block 29. Both parcels due south of Parcel 9.

Unit #5
Parcel 5, Block 31. Due east of birthplace lot. For viewshed protection.


Research and Archaeology

Additional historical archaeology is needed, primarily in the designated historic zones to more accurately locate foundations of structures and artifacts. (Livery/Mule Barn, Birthplace Barn, Privy, and Summer Kitchen) Additional documentary research is needed on the landscape history to complete period landscaping.

Interpretive Plan

The Interpretive Plan should be completed to address all interpretive issues at the site.

Cultural Resources Plan

The Cultural Resources Plan should be completed to address all cultural resources of the site. Efforts need to continue to solicit oral history, artifacts, and memorabilia associated with the Harry S Truman Birthplace.