A Heritage Library, Old Courthouse, Museum, and More

This article is presented in partnership with Visit Warrensburg.

Warrensburg is your destination for several upcoming events brought to you by the Johnson County Historical Society, a nonprofit working to preserve the past for future generations.

  • A community yard sale on Saturday, September 24
  • The Concerts in the Courthouse on Friday and Saturday nights beginning September 30 through November 5
Photo courtesy of Visit Warrensburg
  • Quilts Among Friends 2022 Quilt Show and Tractor Show on Saturday, October 22
  • Come back during the holiday season to visit the festively decorated Old Courthouse.

The Old Courthouse (it served as the county courthouse from 1838–1871) is the only surviving example of the Federal-style courthouse in Missouri—one of the most popular courthouse designs in Missouri in the nineteenth century, according to the Missouri Secretary of State’s Digital Heritage website. The Old Courthouse has been carefully restored. The courtroom was the site of the famous Old Drum trial, where George Graham Vest’s “Eulogy of the Dog” was delivered in 1870, inspiring the phrase, “Man’s Best Friend.”

The Courthouse is one of several historic buildings in the Johnson County Historical Society complex. The nonprofit’s dedicated team of volunteers maintain the buildings, including the Mary Miller Smiser Heritage Library & Museum.

Photo courtesy of Visit Warrensburg

The library serves as the official repository of collections related to Johnson County, which houses original county records dating from 1834, area newspapers on microfilm from the early 19th century, and historical maps. The library and museum provide a premiere research facility specializing in family and local history. Visitors to the museum will find exhibits on famous residents including John William “Blind” Boone, the history of Pertle Springs and more.

The JCHS complex also includes the Culp Building, featuring a variety of early agriculture equipment, and the Elm School. The early 20th-century one-room school was relocated to the complex in 1996. The Society restored the building as it was when in use, providing a unique experience for students today. 

The JCHS hosts events throughout the year.  The complex, 302 Noth Main St., is open Tuesdays 1-4 p.m., Thursdays 1-8 p.m. and Saturdays 1-4 p.m. or by appointment. Admission is free with donations greatly appreciated. For tour and event information, please follow Jocomohistory on Facebook or visit jocomohistory.org. To plan your visit to Warrensburg, visit the Warrensburg Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website at VisitWarrensburg.com.