Experience history while you dine. This building has served travelers along the Santa Fe Trail since 1834, making it the oldest continually-serving restaurant west of the Mississippi River. Tours are available year-round, but the restaurant itself is open seasonally.
The tavern was built by Joseph Huston as the Huston family home in 1834, as a Federal-style 2 1/2 story brick structure. By 1840, Huston was known as a hotelkeeper, serving Missouri River and Santa Fe Trail Travelers. At this time, a brick addition was added housing a mercantile store on the first floor and ballroom that doubles as the town hall on the second floor.
A rare example of 19th century decorative stenciling has survived and the lobby maintains the original wood floors. Frame additions for dining space and additional bedrooms were added after 1850 and the detached summer kitchen was incorporated into the main building.
A cupola on the roof houses a salvaged steamboat bell that announced meal times and emergencies. Visitors today enjoy ringing the bell by tugging the rope that hangs in the lobby, suspended from above.
In 1912, the National Old Trails Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) brought national attention to the “Old Tavern” because of its association with the Santa Fe Trail. In 1923, the DAR persuaded the state legislature to purchase the Tavern for $5,000, making it the first building in Missouri set aside for historic preservation with public funds. They were appointed by the state as “custodians” of the Tavern; in 1937 they reported that they had served 1,834 meals, an amount now surpassed in a single month.