As years go by, it becomes ever more difficult to remember a time when Main Street was the center of commerce and the heart of the community in Warrenton. The Warren County Historical Society plans …
As years go by, it becomes ever more difficult to remember a time when Main Street was the center of commerce and the heart of the community in Warrenton. The Warren County Historical Society plans to preserve that past in the minds of visitors with a “history walk” through downtown Warrenton on Sept. 16.
Activities for the day start with a plant sale at 3 p.m. at the Schowengerdt House on Main Street. All plants for sale are those grown on the grounds of the historical home.
At 6 p.m., a walking tour of downtown will begin, starting at the Schowengerdt House (308 Booneslick Road). Warren County historian and longtime resident Gene Cornell will lead the walk, illuminating the pasts of the shopkeepers and local families who once welcomed visitors to their businesses in Main Street’s historical buildings.
Cornell was once an employee at the Nieburg furniture store on Main Street, and had a passion for collecting stories from people he met in the community, said Angie Hilbert, one of the Historical Society’s event organizers.
“He’s a fantastic storyteller. He is able to tell a story and add a vibrant color to it. ... He’s able to make the story come alive,” Hilbert said.
Newer residents and young people never had a chance to experience downtown as a place to go to shop for clothes, buy general goods, pick out furniture, or interact with a store owner who treats you like a neighbor.
“They knew everybody, they were very eager to help people find what they needed. Shopping was very personal,” Hilbert explained. “And if it was somebody new, they got to know them really quickly.”
The aim of the history walk is to give some life back to those memories, and hopefully help some younger people appreciate the history of their town, she said.
The historical Schowengerdt family home on Warrenton’s Main Street is undergoing significant interior and exterior renovations to restore the home to prime condition. The historical society hopes to have work complete on the main house in time to open it for tours during the Christmas festival in December.
The Schowengerdt House once hosted Christmas visitors every year and regular tours, before being closed several years ago for renovation.
Work on the interior has included structural repairs, wall and woodwork repair and floor refinishing, while the exterior work has included extensive tuck pointing, painting and landscaping.
Those interested in learning more about how life used to be in all the towns throughout Warren County can visit the Historical Society Museum located at 102 W. Walton St. in Warrenton. The museum is open Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 1-4 p.m.
Visitors can see exhibits about important people and events in local history, or ask volunteer historians about the trove of information kept in the museum’s library.