PARKVILLE, Mo. — One of the oldest buildings in Platte County is likely going to be one of the newest places for art and agriculture through a new partnership with the county and the University of Missouri Extension Office.
The Dorothy Day Log Cabin was built sometime around 1850 and 1870 and was a home to artist and conservationist Dorothy Day until 2011, when she died.
The county took possession of it soon after and spent about $1 million preserving it. Still, in the following years, there wasn’t any consistent programing or uses for the historic building that came forward.
“When I became a commissioner, it just killed me to know that we had a million-dollar asset that no one is using and few people know about,” Platte County Commissioner Joe Vanover said.
The building is only about 2-and-a-half miles from downtown Parkville, but it’s around a windy rural road and at the top of a hill, making it hard to see from the road.
“When you’re here on site, you are very close to the city but you just feel miles and decades away from life as it is today,” Vanover said.
When the Mizzou Extension Office was searching for office space, MU Extension in Jackson County Field Specialist in Community Development Elena Stephenson said she and her colleagues saw a much better use for this space.
“We saw the space and we were like, ‘This could be an amazing artist residencey,’ and it would preserve Dorothy Day’s legacy as an artist as well,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson said the secluded nature is perfect for an artist, who could have a national profile but would be able to contribute to the Platte County area.
“The goal of the artist residency is for artists to get out of their routine, out of their norm in a new environment and area that hopefully be inspired and create some art that could be archival for the space but also give back to the community as well,” Stephenson said.
The home is less than 2,000 square feet, which will be taken up almost entirely by the artists that work there. Outside, there is plenty of space for other programing.
“4-H, their mission is youth development, so there’s a lot of potential to do 4-H programing in this spacem,” Stephenson said. “Master Gardeners is a great gardening program in the community for all ages.”
The county and Mizzou Extension Office hope to have the paperwork and details sorted out around the end of 2023 so programing can start in Spring 2024. The hope is to have the space be active from April to August each year.