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Harry S. Truman Visitor Center could move to new location

Posted at 5:05 PM, Jul 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-10 18:05:35-04

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- The Harry S. Truman Visitor Center has had a busy Tuesday. 

It’s where Becky Wubker is taking her Wisconsin friends.

“We're going to start here, go through the Truman home, probably going to do the square, so they can see some of the history behind Independence,” Wubker said.

Currently, the visitor center is on North Main Street, five blocks east of the Truman National Historic Site. 

The National Park Service is interested in buying the Higher Ground Hotel and moving the visitor center from Main Street to the hotel, which is across the street from the site.

“From a logistical and interpretive historical viewpoint, we think that this is the opportunity perhaps of the park's lifetime,” Harry S. Truman Chief of Interpretation Douglas Richardson said.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” visitor Melanie Carbine said. “I mean, it’s right next to the house, makes sense.”

But not everyone thinks it’s a good move.

Some business employees on the square say they’re wary of the plan, saying they’ll possibly lose business if the visitor center relocates, taking people away from the square.

Others like Wubker want to make sure history is maintained.

“As long as they're not going to destroy it, I have no problem, but I want to keep the history, I want to keep that part alive,” Wubker said.

Richardson said if the plan were to go through, the building would still stay intact.

“The intent is that this entire neighborhood that you see is intended to be preserved just as it was during the retirement years of Harry and Bess Truman,” Richardson said.

Independence Mayor Eileen Weir said if the plan goes through, they’ll continue to market the downtown area.

“It’s not uncommon to walk a few blocks to get to where you want to go and be able to experience everything a city has to offer, so I don't really see that's a horrible obstacle to overcome,” Weir said.

Last year, park officials said they saw around 45,000 visitors, which they say is pretty average. If the change does happen, they expect those numbers to increase.

There have been different opinions on the possible move.

If you’d like to speak out on this, public comments will be accepted until July 20 at the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site.