Missouri Main Street Connection Inc. (MMSC) partnered with the Missouri Humanities Council in awarding $5,000 grants to 12 selected communities through a competitive process to fund projects focused on strengthening heritage and cultural tourism in rural Missouri. The grant helped each community implement a project and market itself to prospective visitors. These projects added heritage tourism to the economies in each community through a range of projects from murals to walking tours to new monuments and building plaques that all highlight each respective community’s history for residents and visitors. One of the Marketing Heritage and Cultural Tourism grants was awarded to Vision Carthage in March of 2022 with the project completed in October of 2022.
Vision Carthage is the Main Street organization for Carthage, Missouri. They are one of several Main Streets in Missouri whose communities are the county seat and has their Courthouse Square as a part of their district. The Jasper County courthouse sits in the heart of Carthage’s historic downtown district with beautiful architectural detail making it a crown jewel for the community. It is this historic courthouse that provides visitors sidewalks to walk around with the best view of the district and all the change that has occurred over the decades.
The “Downtown Historic District Walking Tour” guide book was imagined to focus on Carthage’s historical significance, unique architectural structures, and its heritage and cultural significance from maple leaves and Route 66 to its courthouse and, most notably, Carthage limestone. Abi Alamdinger shared about the significance of Carthage limestone and its role in Missouri that gained it recognition, “Carthage became known for limestone which was polished into Carthage marble and used in the interiors and exteriors of buildings, including the State Capitol.”
Using the “Downtown Historic District Walking Tour” guide book, visitors are invited to ‘take a step back in time’ around the square plus additional buildings of interest outside the Square proper. Within the guide book, visitors will find historical details of the buildings surrounding the courthouse which were curated from historic sources from the Carthage Public Library by Vision Carthage’s promotion committee. Each page contains a picture professionally taken of the building between June and September of 2022 as well as any relevant historic photographs.
The stories of how Carthage has changed over time are now accessible to more people that visit Carthage for the day, or longer, and learn about this rural city. One interesting part about the districts presented in the guide book is the reason why so many of Carthage’s buildings are brick or stone. The guide describes the historic background of this phenomenon as, “During the early years, much was lost due to fire…As buildings were being rebuilt it was strongly urged that they be built out of brick or stone to alleviate the fire hazard.” There are over 30 different building highlights for you to discover through the guide book when you visit Carthage.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Main Street without checking out the current businesses inside these historic buildings. The impact of the walking tour is that it draws people in who are heritage tourists or life-long learners. While they explore and learn, they also shop and eat supporting the local economy.
Next time you are in Carthage bring your own copy of the “Downtown Historic District Walking Tour” by printing it from VisionCarthage.org or ExperienceCarthageMO.com. You can pick up a printed copy in the district to guide your walk around the courthouse.
Missouri Main Street Connection awarded the Marketing Heritage & Cultural Tourism Grants in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and the National Endowment for Humanities through the American Rescue Plan Act.