In last week’s post I wrote about my recent visit to Holy Trinity Parish in Weston, Missouri. My friend Frances and I had made the drive to Weston specifically to take pictures of the old church and learn a little bit about its history. But there was a lot of activity down the steep hill along Main Street as well. The entire town was gearing up for their annual Candelight Homes Tour, which draws hundreds of visitors to this quaint little charmer of a town. I wasn’t able to attend the tour this year, but already have it on my calendar for next year. Many of the buildings in Weston were built before the Civil War, and few things look more “Christmassy” than elaborately decorated historic homes!
Weston is, indeed, a historic town. The land on which it’s built was part of the Louisiana Purchase. Founded in 1837, Weston was once the farthest “West Town” in the United States, and its population surpassed nearby St. Joseph, Missouri and even Kansas City. It’s heyday was between 1837 and 1860, when it was the last town in which wagon trains could stock up on supplies before crossing the Missouri River and heading west into the wilderness. The Civil War, and then a succession of natural disasters (a cholera epidemic, a fire, and a flood) set Weston on a path of decline. By 1870 the population dwindled to 900. Today, Weston still has fewer than 2,000 residents, but because its historic buildings are so well preserved (more than 100 buildings qualified for designation on the National Register of Historic Places), and because of its thriving retail and business district, it draws much more traffic than its small population might suggest.
Weston is a short drive from Kansas City, which makes for an easy and pleasant day trip, and a favorite place of mine to take a brisk walk on a fair day. Walking tours are, in fact, available. I usually just park my car and meander up and down Main Street, where there are several specialty stores in which to buy antiques, handmade goods, European imports, and vintage-look fashion or decor items. Pirtle Winery is also nearby, as well as a number of really good restaurants—which were on our minds as Frances and I headed downtown after our visit to Holy Trinity church. We were ready for lunch and standing on a street corner discussing our options when a woman stopped and asked if she could answer any questions for us. We asked her what she recommended for lunch, and she pointed directly behind us to the Main Street Galleria, which looked to be an old-fashioned drug store. We were skeptical. “There’s a restaurant upstairs,” she explained. We were still skeptical. It looked to us, from a sign in the window, that all they served were pies and pastries. We wanted sandwiches. “Yes, there’s sandwiches,” the woman assured us. We decided to give it a try.
It was a perfect day for Christmas shopping; it was so warm we almost didn’t need our coats. What makes Weston such a beautiful place to shop is the overall condition of the buildings there. As you walk up and down the street you see markers on buildings indicating how old they are; none of them are twentieth century. Yet, unlike some other small towns of this era that still remain, the shops are occupied, well-kept, and fresh-looking. A dominant feature of the street is the Saint George, a hotel established in 1847 that is still in operation today.
What follows is a short walk through Weston’s downtown in pictures.
There are some noteworthy shops in Weston that are not pictured here. One such shop is Celtic Ranch, which I can’t believe I left out! Celtic Ranch is crammed full of beautiful treasures from Ireland and Scotland. They have a nice selection of thick and dreamy wool sweaters that call to mind my visits to woolen mills in Ireland many years ago. They also sell jewelry and other accessories as well as Irish Whiskey in a little alcove at the back of the shop.
…and so concludes my most recent visit to Weston. Each time I go there, I drive away with a little fantasy in my head about opening my own shop along Main Street. I’ll never do this, of course. This is another pipedream I file away with my recurring dream of running a sunflower farm. Still, as a person who likes to ride her imagination the full distance, I find that I need places like this that add color to the many stories in my head!
Until next time…