Bothwell Lodge sits atop a bluff near Sedalia. The estate is a stunning stone structure with a mountain of history. You can tour the lodge and learn about the owner John Homer Bothwell. Take a hike on the Stoneyridge Trail and stop for a picnic along the way.

John Homer Bothwell’s Stonyridge estate, located north of Sedalia, was added to the state park system in1974. The structure has been intriguing guests since the turn of the twentieth century.
Photo by Oliver Schuchard

THE STONE CASTLE standing prominently on a bluff just a few miles north of Sedalia along Highway 65 and the surrounding 180 acres were dedicated in 1979 as Bothwell State Park, later changed to Bothwell Lodge State Historic Site. Additional acreage has since been added. John Homer Bothwell, a Pettis County attorney and businessman, moved to Missouri in 1871 and married the daughter of a prominent Sedalia family, Hattie Ellen Jaynes. Hattie died only a few years later after contracting an unknown illness, and Bothwell never remarried. He was active in local politics and served Pettis County in the Missouri General Assembly for four terms. He also ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1904, and helped make Sedalia the State Fair’s permanent home.

After purchasing the bluff-top property in 1896, Bothwell began construction of the home he called Stonyridge Farm. He used native rock from the estate grounds, and the house grew in a rambling fash- ion. Four independent sections are tied together. In a combination storage area and workroom below the library, a wooden box covers an opening to a shaft that drops directly into a cave below the house. The shaft links the cave to a winding stairwell in the tower, which has doors and windows that can be opened to create a draft that pulls naturally cooled air up into the house.

As a bachelor of means, Bothwell enjoyed both traveling afar and entertaining guests. His lodge reflected all of this in its informal atmosphere and eclectic furnishings, from Mission style to wicker, with souvenirs from his travels and the odd stuffed and mounted animal. Bothwell appreciated the natural world, and he grieved that much of the timber atop the ridge had been cut just before he bought the property. He spent years restoring the native vegetation around his estate, and he built a half-mile trail along the wooded slope surrounding the lodge, with stone steps in steep spots, benches for resting, and a small picnic shelter.

Photo Courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Bothwell prospered into his old age, continuing to provide easy-going hospitality until his death in 1929, and even after. His will provided that the estate should continue to serve as a recreational retreat for his friends and ultimately for the people of Missouri.

A trip to this site properly begins with a visit to the lodge, which could be described as an overgrown English cottage. It has three levels and thirty rooms; twenty are visible on tour. If Hattie Bothwell had lived, she might have brought a more delicate touch to the decor, but the furnishings are of good quality

and comfortable. A favorite room is the library; when you go inside, it’s easy to imagine the widely read and curious Bothwell amidst the fine woodwork, enjoying his extensive collection of handsomely housed books, including many early and limited editions from the 1870s and 1880s, as well as the lovely view of the valley below his estate. The cozy fireplace must have made this a favorite retreat in the wintertime, too.

Photo Courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Bothwell’s Stonyridge Trail has been refurbished and still offers a pleasant walk. Many of the trees along this forested slope are sugar maples, so fall walks can be especially beautiful among the orange and golden leaves. In 2006, the site opened a longer and more challenging three-mile route, the Radiant Trail, named after a favorite poem of John Bothwell. He believed above all in enjoying nature’s radiance and bequeathed his home and grounds to the state so future generations of Missourians could also enjoy them. 

Bothwell Lodge State Historic Site has hiking and biking trails, a picnic area, a playground, interpretive programs, and site tours.

Bothwell Lodge State Historic Site
19349 Bothwell State Park Rd., Sedalia

247 acres
Pettis County
• Radiant Trail (3.2 mi)
• Stonyridge Trail (0.5 mi)

To purchase the Missouri State Park Special Edition book, click here. 

To purchase the beautiful, coffee table book, Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites, click here. 

Read more about Sedalia here.