Harry S. Truman National Historic Landmark District

Independence
Jackson County

Established in 1972, the Harry S. Truman National Historic Landmark District was personally endorsed by President Harry S. Truman shortly before his death. The Truman family’s relationship with their neighborhood has been consistently highlighted by historians and directly linked to the personal character and success of Harry S. Truman. The south end of the Truman National Historic Landmark District (NHL) has additional importance as the “setting” for a National Historic Site (NHS), which includes two bungalows, owned by members of Bess Truman’s family. The concept of “setting” is especially critical when it comes to the Truman National Historic Site. The Truman home sits on a narrow street in a neighborhood composed of larger Victorian homes and smaller bungalows. Visitors to the Truman Home experience this classic example of a Midwestern middle-class neighborhood. The setting adds value to the NHS and helps tell the story of a man who took his sense of community and neighborhood to the Jackson County Courthouse, to the United States Senate, to the White House, and to international peace summits. Since the establishment of the Truman NHL in 1972 eleven significant homes have been lost. In 1984 the area within the locally-designated Harry S. Truman Landmark District was reduced by two-thirds, allowing for the demolition of eight houses for a parking lot. Three other houses have been lost to neglect and fire. The National Park Service identified the district as threatened in 1984, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the district on its list of 11 Most Endangered Properties in 1993. Following this designation, the City stepped up local preservation efforts, hiring professional preservation staff, revamping local preservation ordinances and creating an innovative redevelopment district that rewarded property owners with tax abatement for rehabbing historic buildings. However, more recently, institutional property owners in the area have been moving out of historic buildings and redirecting financial resources away from the district. In spite of strong city support, the cumulative effect of these incremental changes places at risk the neighborhood that is synonymous with the legacy of President Harry S. Truman.

Listed in 2008.


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