The Greene County Historic Sites Board has added three sites along U.S. Route 66 to its list of historic places. As KSMU’s Julie Greene reports, these locations have a long history in the county, two of which have been open for generations.
The mission of the board is to identify historic sites, advocate preservation and recognize what it feels are significant elements in the cultural and historic heritage of the county. There are 75 historic sites recognized in Greene County. That now includes three new sites, two of which have been open for 80 years.
Rick Perryman is co-owner of Barnes Town and Country Furniture and Appliance, formerly known as J.M. Barnes & Son General Merchandise. He’s been working at the store for 42 years, since his family bought it from the Barnes in 1972.
“We have generations that have shopped here—grandkids coming in now, and maybe even grand grandkids of people that have shopped with us before, and it’s family tradition. They know Barnes Town and Country is going to give them a good product at a good price and with good service, and the original owner, the Barnes’, were the same way,” Perryman said.
Jackie Warfel, a lifetime member of the Greene County Historic Sites Board, says one of the reasons she nominated Barnes and the other two locations was because of the stores’ rich history. Warfel says she and her family also has a long history as patrons of the sites, which are located along an 8-mile stretch of the historic Mother Road.
“Anything we didn’t grow or raise was bought at the Barnes general store. When I got married, my father gave me a washer and dryer from Barnes Store. When I moved to Bois D’Arc, which is where I live now, I bought a refrigerator from Barnes [laughs], and the list just goes on,” Warfel said.
J.M. Barnes opened J.M. Barnes & Son General Merchandise in 1934. At the time, the store sold general merchandise as well as feed. Not long after, the feed department began to grow and a new building was added, which today is known as Main Street Feeds. With the addition of several businesses including a barber shop, and a café, opening alongside Barnes, the location became a focal point of the community.
Then in 1935, the Graystone Heights Modern Cabins opened a few miles down the road. The business soon became a hot spot for tourists on their honeymoons. But it struggled to make a profit upon the opening of Interstate 44, which bypassed U.S. Route 66, forcing its closure.
“Graystone Heights didn’t have a buffet, but when it closed, Mr. Barnes put a buffet in his complex, it was like a village or a strip mall. It did not have a school. There was a Bennett school, which was a mile west on Highway 66 and Farm Road 85, and there was a church another mile down, which was Yeakley Chapel, so all the needs of the community were met within that four or five mile area, which makes it, what we thought, extremely historic,” Warfel said.
Graystone Heights was bought out and eventually became R&S Floral. However, the Graystone cabins still exist and are currently in the process of being restored. Warfel says historic designations signify the importance of building preservations.
“It makes you take a second thought before you go in with a bulldozer and take them down. We do not have any legal authority over these like the national registry. We don’t have any requirements. The owners can do with them as they please, but most of them are so proud to be nominated and made a historic site that they try to go along and restore them as historical as they can,” Warfel said.
The board will now work toward recognizing Yeakley, a 500 acre estate of Scottish immigrant William Crighton, as a historical site. The estate is located between Graystone Heights and Yeakley Chapel. If this site, along with Bennett School, were to be nominated and approved, it would complete the board’s mission of recognizing the major landmarks along the 8-mile stretch corridor on Historic Route 66.