RAYMORE – Cass County will soon have an exciting new educational site.
The Charles and Mary Jane Watkins Farm, just south of Raymore, has been donated to the Marais des Cygnes Society, which plans to develop the farm into an interactive educational site showcasing rural life in Cass County—primarily as it existed in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Visitors to the Watkins Farm will learn about the daily lives of children and adults as they go through the cycle of seasons on the land. They’ll see, first hand, the equipment people used, hear how they battled weather, insects, disease and accidents, and how those innovative people raised their families and grew their farms in a time of growing prosperity in Cass County.
The story will be told of the Watkins Family, who raised Guernsey dairy cattle, pioneered farm to market, embraced modern technologies and worked closely with the University of Missouri Extension to help other farmers meet the challenges of changing agricultural practices and marketing techniques.
The Watkins Farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and with good reason.
The farm features a 1913 Sears & Roebuck Prairie Style home. The home will be restored as closely as possible to its original state, and will be furnished with period family furniture. The home will then be open for tours by the public.
More than 40 other structures contribute to the historic nature of this place and will be restored to show original uses and to house exhibits.
Heirloom and new (for that time) hybrid vegetables and flowers will be grown and period correct fruit trees added. The dairy barn will be restored and Guernsey cows added so that the story of dairying could be told. The farm fields will continue to be farmed and used to pasture animals. Chickens will return to the coop.
Programs will include heritage craft classes, gardening and cooking classes, cheese making classes and more – perhaps even a swing band and dancing in the barn to show that this close to Kansas City, the farmers did have a taste of the swell life as well.
Throughout the site, Cass County and Missouri history will be emphasized in programs, signage and hands on activities.
During the coming year, the Watkins Farm will undergo restoration and anticipates being open for some programs in late 2020.
Anyone interested in volunteering to help with historical research, programs, craft classes, gardens, livestock or to serve as docents should contact Brian Phillips, executive director of the Marais des Cygnes Society at 660-424-9200.
The Marais des Cygnes Society is a charitable foundation serving western Missouri and eastern Kansas. The Society promotes the preservation of Missouri’s historical past and the conservancy of her native plants and animals.
A major program of the Society is operation of the Poplar Heights Living History Farm in Bates County. Poplar Heights showcases rural life from the Civil War thru 1910.