Fire at Civil War-era mansion in Independence sparks talk of restoring it

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — It’s a long shot, but stranger things have happened.

A weekend fire at the historic Thomson House in Independence is stoking fond memories and a deep reservoir of goodwill that many people still have for this ancient Greek Revival mansion on Highway 40.

“People who live in this part of town, and really all over Independence, have always had an interest in making sure that it stays here,” said Eileen Weir, mayor of Independence.

The stately home dates to back to 1855. An historical plaque in front of the house explains the home was originally owned by Benjamin Franklin Thomson and built with slave labor. The family fled the area during the Civil War but the mansion lived on, in one form or another, for generations.
At one time, it operated as a restaurant and banquet space under the name ‘Old Plantation’.

“That’s our hope, that it come back somehow, someway,” said Debbie Stone.

Stone’s grandparents owned the building from the late 1960’s to the early 1990’s, when it was home to ‘Las Playas’ Mexican restaurant.

“It has value as a family thing, but the history behind this building is amazing,” Stone said.
The fire over the weekend damaged much of the second floor of the home. Although the historic residence has sat vacant for many years, deteriorating long before the most recent fire.

Even so, Mayor Weir is hoping the city can work with the current owners to somehow breathe new life into the Thomson House.

“This is important to us and we want to make sure it remains here and becomes something that’s a positive attribute to the community,” Weir said.

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