Breathing new life into the Bayless House
Much progress has been made on the renovation of the Bayless House over the last couple of years. Barry County Genealogical and Historical Society President Bud Hart offered tours of Cassville's historic home after the group's meeting on Monday night.
"We've insulated everything, put the sheetrock up and got the heat and air installed," said Hart. "We are working on the rooms upstairs."
A new stained oak central staircase is now in place inside the Bayless House. The stairs were constructed by Hart and his son, Don, and stained by Joey Batton.
The structure also offers a new stained glass door on the north side of the wrap around porch, which features a special inscription in honor of donor Frances G. Albert's mother, Jesse Jones Wright.
Plumbing has been installed for two new bathrooms, one downstairs and one on the second level of the house. Both bathrooms are designed to be accessible by individuals with disabilities.
Hart and his son also constructed a new archway that will one day separate a community kitchen from the meeting room area with the home's central fireplace. Current plans are to install a rock finish on the fireplace.
"There is still a lot to do, but we are getting there," said Hart. "Our next project will be the floors."
Hart plans to sand and refinish the flooring currently present in the house. Some of the flooring boards that have deteriorated will need to be replaced.
Volunteers are also stripping all of the wood trim, window sills and doors inside the home. The wood will be refinished or stained once stripping has been completed.
The degrading brick walls in portions of the house, including what will become known as the Lea Research Room, have been refinished with plaster by Brian Stensrud and painted. Once the area is completely renovated, the room will feature numerous items donated by Bob Lea, of Shell Knob, in honor of the late Cuba (Lorene) Lea.
As progress is made on the renovation project, the historic home is beginning to come alive. Visitors can now visualize the five downstairs and five upstairs rooms that once served a bustling family.
"In John Bayless' journal, at the end of 1879, he wrote that the family could now live comfortably in their home," said Georgia, Hart's wife. "That was when the home was completed."
When the Bayless House renovation project is finished, the historical society hopes to rent the facility for weddings, meetings and other events, said Georgia. The society also has a large collection of antique items that have been donated for display in the facility.
"We will have a Stubblefield Room in memory of Rex Stubblefield, who donated two items to the society, a vintage bedroom suite and a library table. We will also have a piano that belonged to Dr. Rudd's grandmother. The piano is very similar to one that used to stand in the front room of the home."
The facility will feature several research rooms with historical records. The Mildred and Loren Roden Research Room has already been completed and houses a computer donated by Stubblefield and a microfilm machine donated by Jean Vail, of Bella Vista, Ark.
"This spring, we will have to start going back over what we have already done," said Hart. "There is some maintenance that needs to be done on the porch. Part of the project is upkeep."
Hart said although maintenance requires more work it reminds the society about how much work and how many donations have gone into the renovation project already.
Each pillar on the front porch features the name of an individual or family that contributed to the project. Once the renovation project is completed, each window throughout the home will feature similar plaques that honor the individuals and families that gave funds for the purchase of the windows.
Other plaques will also be installed for those who gave donations for portions of the project, including Dee McGruder, who supplied the funds for the stamped metal tile that was installed in the ceiling of the wrap around porch.
The Barry County Historical Society began the Bayless House renovation project in May of 2000.
Donations for the Bayless House renovation project can be mailed to: Barry County Genealogical and Historical Society, P.O. Box 291, Cassville MO 65625. Checks should indicate that the donation is for the Bayless House. All donations are tax-deductible.
For more information on the project or the society, call Hart at 271-3521.