St. Joseph is a northwestern Missouri city with big offerings and unique stories—including some familiar history.
“Our big draw for groups is still, and hopefully always, our history, architecture, and stained glass,” says the St. Joseph CVB’s Jolene Dempster.
The city was the home of infamous outlaw Jesse James, and is also the starting point of the Pony Express.
“The story of the Pony Express has continued to fascinate Americans since Johnny Fry left St. Joseph April 3, 1860, heading west to Sacramento. The story is interpreted daily for visitors at the Pony Express National Museum as well as at the Patee House Museum,” Dempster says.
Once the site of the original Pony Express stables, the Pony Express National Museum is an internationally recognized landmark. Visitors can see the original foundation, built in the 1850s, through a hole in the museum’s floor. They can also explore cabins, pump water from an original stone well, and see the Hall of Riders.
Being a pioneer city in Western commerce and trade, St. Joseph had a booming manufacturing scene that generated well-known products like Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix and Premium Saltine Crackers, and it also produced vast wealth.
The city’s rich history is also evident in its beautiful architecture, and groups can tour the historical neighborhoods and see a variety of styles in mansions and churches, including Greek Revival, Craftsman, and Victorian.
The architectural heritage is also characterized by stained-glass windows. Many are in private residences, but visitors can marvel at the displays of art in several public spaces, including The Shakespeare Chateau Inn and area churches. The Tobiason Studio is the only remaining shop with commissioned glassworkers in the city. Its owners specialize in custom pieces and glass restoration, and they offer classes and workshops.
Top photo: Stained-glass windows in The Shakespeare Chateau Inn
Photo by St. Joseph CVB