Village of BAy (Hermann), MO
The Bay Mercantile Company consists of a three-story commercial building with an attached 2-story residence. The structures comprising the property date to 1856-57, constructed for local merchant Frances H. Peters. Evidence indicates the property was expanded to its current size in the 1870s by Simon Boeger, who married Peters’ widow and brought the mercantile into its most successful years. Both the house and adjacent barn (which was separated from the enterprise in the 1880s) are believed to be the work of an itinerant mason named Schneider. The buildings are good examples of Central Missouri’s stone masonry commonly constructed during the mid-to-late nineteenth century. The store remained in family ownership for many years until 1912 when it was purchased by a community-owned enterprise and renamed as the Bay Mercantile Company. The business remained an active part of the community until the 1970s before closing and passing to private ownership. When Scott Ruffner purchased the property in 2012 there was significant deterioration from exposure and deferred maintenance. Scott, with the help of friends, salvaged the sagging storefront overhang and addressed leaks in the roof. He worked on many of the windows and shutters, and prepared the metal roof for painting; all of the repairs were funded directly by Scott. Tragically, Scott unexpectedly passed away in May 2017. To honor Scott’s dream of preserving the Bay Mercantile Company, family members created the Scott D. Ruffner Trust. In 2018, trustees approved funds to paint the metal roof, preventing further deterioration. While a few dedicated individuals provide as much maintenance as resources allow, much of the work to save this enormous structure is beyond their skills and resources. Much of the stone façade requires repointing — including removal of unintentionally harmful patch-jobs done with improper materials that create additional problems. The structure’s finished interior is immense, and while protected from the elements, still needs extensive work to make up for years of deferred maintenance. It is hoped that designation as a Place in Peril will help raise awareness for the project, bring in donations and open up funding opportunities. We further hope to catch the attention of professionals who would be willing to volunteer time and expertise, ultimately fulfilling Scott’s dream of restoring the Bay Mercantile Company.