Treloar Mercantile opens doors to public

By Cindy Gladden, Record Staff Writer
Posted 12/10/18

The Treloar Mercantile, a historic jewel located in southern Warren County, will be available to tour Sunday, Oct. 14, and Sunday, Oct. 21, from noon to 3 p.m. Dan and Connie Burkhardt, who also own …

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Treloar Mercantile opens doors to public


The Treloar Mercantile, a historic jewel located in southern Warren County, will be available to tour Sunday, Oct. 14, and Sunday, Oct. 21, from noon to 3 p.m.

Dan and Connie Burkhardt, who also own Peers Store, recently purchased the Treloar Mercantile and Bank, seeing it as a piece of architectural history worthy of preservation. Burkhardt said the building is a symbol of the hardworking people who depended on it and a wonderful example of one of the Missouri River towns that sprang up after the building of the railroad.

The Burkhardts say walking through the front door is a bit like time travel, since the building has remained locked in time for many decades. Most locals remember the bank portion as the Treloar Post Office until about 10 years ago.

Verneal (Meyer) Reese, 96, of Warrenton, is unique in that she remembers going to the mercantile as an 8- or 9-year-old child. As she accompanied her mother to pick up necessities for the family, she remembers it being “a very neat and tidy place with very nice people.” 

She believes the storekeepers at that time may have been an Engelbrecht family.

Treloar native, Stephen Foley, is the keeper of a great oral history handed down from his grandmother, Elda Flatt. His great-grandfather, H.H. Wessel, ran the Farmer Bank. Foley, who is restoring the fourth-generation family home near Treloar, said his great-grandfather was held accountable for the collapse of the bank during the Depression.

Wessel, who was a judge, farmer, county commissioner and a banker, unfortunately spent his last years on a sad note following many accomplishments. Stories handed down say Wessel was not in good health when he faced a sentence of two years in jail for his part in the bank failure.

“Grandma said his son forged his name and went to jail for his father,” said Foley. “She said she would go to Jefferson City to visit her brother and it was a terrible trip. Grandma worked her whole life to buy back the farm her father lost.”

“The mercantile and Peers Store were both built in 1896,” said Burkhardt. “They are a remarkable collection of history — two mercantiles within 3 ½ miles.”

Although built during the same year, the structures are different in their architecture. Peers Store is much of a “country store,” while the Treloar Mercantile is a bit more fancy, offering a boarding house upstairs and a full mercantile downstairs. The parapets gracing both sections of the building are original.

Built-in cabinetry in the store still includes the price of items written on the side of the drawers — brown sugar at 10 cents a pound, corn meal at 4 cents a pound or salt at 2 cents a pound. Two woodstoves still sit where they provided warmth for the proprietors and boarders.

Unfortunately, water has never been brought to the building, which limits its use at this time.

“It’s a grand, beautiful building,” said Dan Burkhardt. “You cannot keep people out of the place.”

“You drive up and there are people sitting on the porch wanting to come in,” said Connie Burkhardt.

The couple said the Treloar Mercantile has received a bit of a facelift, tuckpointing and waterproofing. It will be open for special events.

John Alsop of Augusta Stoneworks has felt a connection with the place for years. He has repaired much of the stonework at the building, including the foundation. He also rebuilt the parapet gracing the front of the building.

“I happen to love this building, and I’m glad Dan found me,” he said. “I’ve been driving by this building for years.”

During the upcoming events, the Burkhardts ask that people come to share their memories of the mercantile, including oral histories and photographs. Or, if they are just curious to see the inside of this historical building, they should stop by for a tour.

While at the Treloar location, guests should visit the giant corn sculpture recently carved by The Wood Den. A giant elm tree that grew for more than 100 years is now a tribute to the crop grown in the Missouri River bottom fields and transported by train on the Katy Railroad.

On Sunday, Oct. 14, both Peers Store and the Treloar Mercantile will be open to the public. The World Bird Sanctuary will bring its Eurasian eagle owl for visitors to see. Live music will include the Bluegill Buddies at Peers Store and the River Rats at Treloar. The Warren County Old Threshers will hold demonstrations at the Treloar Mercantile.

Tram rides from Peers to Treloar will be provided by the Katy Trail State Park on Sunday, Oct. 21, as part of the Peers-to-Treloar Celebration. Music will be provided by Mike and Gloria at Peers and Andy Grossi and Wes McRaven at the Treloar location.

Barbecue by the Marthasville Volunteer Fire Department will be available.

The Treloar Mercantile is located across from the Katy trailhead in Treloar.

The Treloar Mercantile and Bank were built in 1896 when the Katy Railroad was bustling through the town. The bank failed during the Great Depression and the mercantile has not been open in recent memory. It will be open for special events. 

Record photo/Cindy Gladden

Dan and Connie Burkhardt purchased the Treloar Mercantile and Bank building approximately six months ago. It has been cleaned and restored and will be open to the public two Sundays in October, Oct. 14 and Oct. 21. Custom shelving and display cases are original. 

Record Photo/Cindy Gladden

This photo was provided by the James Shoppenhorst family as an example of one of the events held in front of the Treloar Mercantile. The building faced the Katy Railroad, the Missouri River bottoms and the Missouri River. The upper floor of the mercantile was used by boarders. The Farmer Bank was located on the right. 

Submitted Photo

John Alsop, of Augusta Stone Works, lent his talent and experience to restoring what he believes is worth saving at the Treloar Mercantile. He has repaired the parapets, the foundation and the brickwork. Alsop has had his eyes on the building for years, hoping it would be restored at some point. 

Record photo/Cindy Gladden