May 9, 2016

Exploring Patee House Museum In St. Joseph

St. Joseph, Mo., is a Midwestern city that celebrates its history – if you’ve driven through, surely you’ve picked up on the Pony Express pride.

My family ventured into St. Jo recently to visit a few of its points of interest. If Farley hadn’t started getting sick as soon as we arrived at our first stop – Patee House Museum – we would’ve seen more. Ah, but isn’t that typical family travel?

Our visit was hosted by Visit St. Joseph with the help of Visit KC (I totally need to plan another visit since ours was cut short!).

Patee House Museum

The Patee House Museum is ranked one of the Top 10 Western Museums in the US. It's located in St. Joseph, Missouri.

The Patee House Museum is ranked one of the Top 10 Western Museums in the US. It’s located in St. Joseph, Missouri.

If you stop for just one thing, this 1858 National Historic Landmark needs to be it. Hands down, the Patee House Museum is worth seeking out. It’s been ranked as one of America’s Top 10 Western Museums by True West magazine – for good reason.

It’s so full of interesting exhibits, you’re torn between lingering on the details and racing forward to see more.

A view of the main hall of the Patee House, taken from the second floor.

A view of the main hall of the Patee House Museum, taken from the second floor.

Since I was touring with my 4-year-old, we took the racing approach.

You’ll see vestiges of the museum’s past as a luxury hotel, Pony Express Headquarters, courthouse…etc., and you’ll see exhibits of our region’s past.

Family Favorites

I think our favorite room in the entire place is the Buffalo Saloon.

Don't miss the Buffalo Saloon inside the Patee House Museum. You can order $1 soda or sarsparilla, and popcorn. But, the favorite thing in the room was the Nickelodian that played random tunes for a quarter. My daughter had a dance party!

Don’t miss the Buffalo Saloon inside the Patee House Museum. You can order $1 soda or sarsparilla, and popcorn. But, the favorite thing in the room was the Nickelodeon that played random tunes for a quarter.

It’s not originally part of the building, but isn’t it a nice addition?

The kids liked ordering up a dollar drink—sarsaparilla if you want to feel authentic—and pumping quarters into the nickelodeon to play a little dancing tune.

If you have a child that loves trains, plan on climbing aboard the large 1860 in the middle of the museum. You can’t miss it. Venture upstairs and see if the model train is working, too.

Another kid favorite is the working vintage “Wild Thing” carousel.

The working carousel inside the Patee House Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri.

The working carousel inside the Patee House Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri.

I forgot cash, so we didn’t ride. Next time?

Kids can also check out the 1877 railroad depot, a stagecoach, cars, trucks, fire trucks, wagons, buggies and carriages, Jeeps, a racecar, horse-drawn hearses and a real gallows.

You never know just what will catch the eye of a kid. Mooch was fascinated by this display case.

You never know just what will catch the eye of a kid. Mooch was fascinated by this display case.

Step into history

I liked the exhibits of everyday life from long ago.

My daughter checking out a general store replica inside the museum.

My daughter checking out a general store replica inside the museum.

There’s a wing in the museum where you can walk into an ice cream shop, peek into a pharmacy or barbershop, as well as an area dedicated to the museum’s history as the headquarters to the Pony Express.

Here's what the Pony Express Headquarters once looked like.

Here’s what the Pony Express Headquarters once looked like.

It’s meant to look like St. Joe from the 1860s-1880s.

Jesse James Home

The front of the home where outlaw Jesse James met his demise.

The front of the home where outlaw Jesse James met his demise.

Literally out back of the museum is the Jesse James House. It’s the infamous house where the outlaw was shot and killed by Bob Ford.

It wasn’t originally right next to Patee House—it was one block away. But it has ties to Patee. After the James’ death, his family stayed at the hotel and was interviewed there.

If you aren’t really a history buff or curious about seeing the bullet hole…you can bypass this small home, particularly if traveling with young children.

The Jesse James House, the very house where the infamous outlaw was shot and killed. The bullet home is marked by a picture frame for those curious enough to seek it out.

The Jesse James House, the very house where the infamous outlaw was shot and killed. The bullet home is marked by a picture frame for those curious enough to seek it out.

My children knew nothing about Jesse James so I stopped myself before jumping down that rabbit hole of explaining who he was, what he did, why he died…etc. I’ll wait a few more years.

If you do visit, you’ll learn a lot about who he was and his notoriety (if your children let you read the signage). You’ll see some macabre items, too, like artifacts from his grave and a replica of his skull, post gunshot.

Of course, my daughter immediately sees this display at the Jesse James House.

Of course, my daughter immediately sees this display at the Jesse James House.

Naturally, the skull is what catches Mooch’s attention.

Awkward.

An informative display case located near the gift shop.

An informative display case located near the gift shop.

There’s a small gift shop in the house as well.

 

If you go

Patee House Museum

Where: 1202 Penn St., St. Joseph, Mo.

When: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

Cost: $6 for adults; $5 for senior citizens (60+); $4 for students (ages 6-17); FREE for children 5 & younger

Website

 

Jesse James House

Where: 1202 Penn St., St. Joseph, Mo.

Cost: $4 for adults; $3 for senior citizens (60+); $2 for students (ages 6-17) ; FREE for children 5 & younger

Website

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