BOWLING GREEN, Mo. — The heritage inside Honey Shuck reflects the determination of Champ Clark and the people who have preserved the house and the immense collection of memorabilia over the years, and the countless stories are ready to be shared again beginning Friday.
After a year of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum at 207 East Champ Clark Drive is open to the public by appointment, with tours sharing the story of the congressman who served as Speaker of the House from 1911 to 1919 and came very close to receiving the Democratic nomination for President. Members of the Board of Directors, local dignitaries and Bowling Green High School graduate Claire Graver and her family celebrated the history inside the museum's walls, along with what the future holds for Graver, Honey Shuck and the Louisiana Area Historical Museum.
Board member Alan Hiles portrayed Champ Clark for the event. Mayor Jim Arico and First Lady Karen Arico presented $4,500 to Honey Shuck and to the Louisiana Area Historical Museum from leftover funds from the community's bicentennial celebration. Claire Graver received a $500 scholarship, and she plans to pursue a degree in elementary education at Columbia College.
Karen Arico, who served on the Pike County Bicentennial Committee, talked about how the donations came to fruition.
"Members of the commission got together and we said 'it's got to be something about the history of Pike County, and we couldn't think of two better places than the Louisiana Area Historical Museum and Honey Shuck," she said. "So we split the remaining funds between them, so that anyone that donated to the bicentennial donated to them."
Honey Shuck receives matching funds due to Hungate's efforts, Twellman said.
The funds for the Louisiana Area Historical Museum will be used to renovate the second floor, and money for Honey Shuck will be used for painting and repair work to exterior railing. Engel said if it wasn't for U.S. Congressman William "Bill" Hungate, Honey Shuck would not be here today.
An upstairs office is dedicated to Hungate, who "basically saved "Honey Shuck", donating the home to what became the not-for profit Champ Clark Honey Shuck Restoration Inc.
Graver joined family members on a tour of the home, observing the details in the dining room with Treasurer Bob Kirkpatrick. He told the group how Champ Clark found the Austrian bluebird china at each place setting for his wife, Genevieve. And she always made sure there was a pitcher of milk on the table, and that the children finished their milk before they departed.
Board member Brent Engel said there "are literally thousands of artifacts", and the adjacent home was purchased as an annex for the home. Board President Larry Twellman said he looks forward to more local residents getting the chance to learn about Champ Clark and his family.
"We're going to have to get it repainted and we have some railing that needs repaired, so we've got some challenges ahead of us," he said, pointing out the pandemic put a hold on many plans, including the 100th anniversary celebration of the suffragette movement. "One of our other challenges is simply getting people in the door."
Twellman said he's surprised when he talks with people who haven't seen the home or haven't visited in several years.
"It's a real treasure here. The fact that somebody from Bowling Green was a very powerful politician is really amazing," he said.
Clark passed away 100 years ago in March, and Twellman said if he had received the Democratic nomination for President that Honey Shuck could have been a presidential museum.
Twellman said board members work with the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce and other local groups, and they are continually reaching out to community members with the goal of preserving Clark's heritage. Plans are in the works to commemorate the suffragette movement's 100th anniversary during the Champ Clark Heritage Festival.
The board has established a Facebook page to invite more people to come visit and get involved. Board Vice President Charlene McCune enjoys leading the tours and adding her personal touch as she shares the history inside the home.
"I like to make it interesting. I like for it to be something that they can laugh about or enjoy the stories," she said. "Making it personal — I think that means a lot to the story of who they were."
Engel expressed his happiness about the opening day.
"Champ would be awfully proud of this to continue that legacy, because it's taking that history that is alive in this house and pushing it forward," Engel said. "We have a young woman who is going on to college, thanks in part to a scholarship from us, and we're going to be updating both the facilities in Louisiana and in Bowling Green."
Appointments and more information are available by calling Twellman at 573-470-6007, Kirkpatrick at 573-470-4750 or McCune at 573-324-3154.