Recklein Commons creates an area of community spirit in Cuba, Missouri

Raising over $100,000 over 2 years, Phil and WD Mullen made the memorial a reality.

Raising over $100,000 in 2 years, Phil and WD Mullen made the Veterans Memorial a reality. Recklein Auditorium sits in the background.

Recklein Commons, so named by History Museum director Betty DeLeo, is an area of public buildings, green space, and community spirit.  The north end of Smith Street is the location of Recklein Auditorium, Holy Cross Church & grounds, the Cuba Recklein Memorial Library, the Crawford County History Museum, and the Veterans Memorial.  It’s a busy area just a couple blocks off W. Washington (Route 66).

All of the above buildings have significant green space with plantings and landscaping that create an attractive setting for public use.

At one time the stone building housing the museum and the adjacent auditorium were the site of the Cuba Schools. Another school building stood where the green space is today.  There was no library across the street. When the new school was built, the old school was empty of the students who had given it life. Then a man named William Recklein changed the face of Smith Street with a generous gift to the city that is still paying benefits today.

After William Recklein‘s wife Ida passed away, he told Mayor Cecil Markley that he wanted to build a library for the town in memory of his wife. The library was dedicated in 1962 four months after Mr. Recklein’s death.  Recklein also bought the old school buildings across the street for $10,000 at a public auction. The buildings were given to the city.  The building in front was torn down for green space, and the remaining buildings benefit the citizens of Cuba.

The Cuba Library is a busy location in the Commons area.

The Cuba Library is a busy location in the Commons area. Artist Julie Nixon Krovicka painted the sign.

The grounds of the History Museum grounds offer benches, tables, and shade trees to create an inviting

The grounds of the History Museum offer benches, tables, and shade trees to create an inviting place to enjoy the green space or reflect at the Veterans Memorial.

The Catholic Church grounds with its Ozark Stone church, wall, rectory, and school buildings are a real treasure to the community. During its early history, strawberry fields surrounded the church, and townspeople could pick berries. Its religious painting on the outside of the church hall, is a fitting addition to the mural city.

Mural artist Ray Harvey added this painting to the Catholic Hall.

Mural artist Ray Harvey added this painting to the Catholic Hall.

After the memorilal's dedication in 2008, a concrete surround, plantings, and lights were added to the site.

After the Memorial's dedication in 2008, a concrete surround, plantings, and lights were added to the site. It's a striking scene at night.

With many donations from Cuba and all over the US, the Veterans Memorial was built and dedicated on Veterans Day 2008.  This monument is the latest addition to the Recklein Commons and is a great gift to the town in honor of its veterans who have served their country.

The third weekend of October, this area comes alive on Saturday and Sunday as the setting of Cuba Fest, a family-friendly weekend of special events. Crafts, A Taste of Cuba, the Methodist food booth, the wine tent, music, and events for kids and adults bring the community and visitors together for a good time.  On Saturday, Viva Cuba offers narrated trolley tours of the murals and a Chili Cook-Off.  On Sunday Viva Cuba conducts trolley tours of Kinder Cemetery for the first time with an unusual look at some of Cuba’s history.

See more information on Viva Cuba at cubamomurals.com.

Preservation in Cuba, Missouri creates an ageless beauty…

Wallace House was built in 1885. It became the Methodist Church in 1928 until 1969.  Today, it is restored and used for special events.

Wallace House was built in 1885. It became the Methodist Church in 1928 until it was later sold. Today, it is restored and used for special events.

Although Viva Cuba has commissioned public art and created many plantings to enhance Cuba, Missouri‘s beauty, one of the most enduring forms of beauty is the preservation of its buildings, locations, and culture.

Wallace House, built as a private residence in 1885, has a rich history. It was sold to the Methodist Church in 1928.  In 1940, Harry Truman stood on the steps of what was then the Methodist Church to make a speech when he was running for the senate.  When the church was sold , a group bought it and carefully restored it, and it is used for private events.  It creates a timeless beauty on the corner of Smith and old Route 66.

Kinder Cemetery was established in 1832 and is carefully maintained.

Kinder Cemetery was established in 1832 and is carefully maintained.

The Kinder Cemetery on the West end of Cuba, Missouri was established in 1832 and has been carefully maintained. The iron fence around the area and other decorative features make it a serene and beautiful setting as the final resting place for some Cuba’s founders. Much of Cuba’s history reposes here.

The former public school was built in 1934 by the WPA program and used until 1960 for a school.  After a few years of various uses, it became the home of the Crawford County History Museum.  The Veterans Memorial in front of it was dedicated on Veteran's Day 2008.

The former public school building was built in 1934 by the WPA program and was used until 1960 as a school. After a few years of various uses, it became the home of the Crawford County History Museum. The Veterans Memorial in front of it was dedicated on Veteran's Day 2008.

At 308 N. Smith Street in the Recklein Commons Area, you will find the Crawford County History Museum that is housed in a stone building.  With its “Three Floors of History,” it is a perfect use of one of Cuba’s historic buildings.  The green space in front of the museum is the home of the Veterans Memorial, which holds the names of almost 1000 Cuba citizens who served their country from WW I on. The memorial was built with corporate and individual donations in a 2-year fundraising effort spearheaded by brothers Phil and W.D. Mullen to remember the sacrifices of Cuba’s veterans.

This Catholic Church was built in 1936 of flint Ozark stone. A rectory was built next door in 1940.

This Catholic Church was built in 1936 of flint Ozark stone. A rectory was built next door in 1940.

Holy Cross Catholic Church ,as it stands today ,was built on land purchased in 1924 by Father Hornsey with his own funds.  The church was built in 1936 with the rock wall, rectory, and other church buildings added later.  The church and school grounds are an example of the functioning preservation of Cuba’s history.

 The Holy Cross steeple beckons worshipers to services.

The Holy Cross steeple beckons worshipers to services.

Cuba is not just about the murals and other art throughout the town. Founded in 1857,Cuba is a sesquicentennial town  with a rich history. That history is revered by the citizens of Cuba, and many have made efforts to retain the historical buildings and give them a dignified use.  Cuba is a town where art meets history to create a special type of ageless beauty.

To get more information about the historical buildings and residences in Cuba, Missouri pick up the Historic Preservation Commission’s brochure at the Visitor Center.  It highlights the historical revitalization in Cuba.

We didn’t realize…

Even the smallest engineer finds a train in Cuba's Public Art.

Even the smallest engineer finds a train in Cuba's Public Art.

When Viva Cuba, the beautification organization in Cuba, Missouri plans their public art, they do not always anticipate the impact of the art.

When the project began, in 2001, they hadn’t thought about using the murals to teach the nation and the town’s history  to fourth graders.  But now they have added a mural curriculum for the school to their projects and give tours to students.  Parents and their children both study the murals.

They didn’t realize that  boy scout Chip Lange would  include their Civil War Murals as part of his Eagle Scout project. But he did, and it has impacted him and the town.

When the organization thought that it would be neat to rent the 1904-style trolley for Cuba Fest and give tours of the murals, they didn’t realize how many children would be touring with parents and how well that would work in conjunction with the school curriculum.

And Viva Cuba really didn’t realize how many people would travel through Cuba to stop and photograph the murals, the Viva Cuba Garden, and the train sculpture.  But it is a daily occurrence during the tourist season. Looking over the blogs, a reader will see how this attraction has also brought the media to report on Cuba’s public art. And the idea of art in Cuba has spread to individual businesses.

And the organization didn’t realize that the public art would take its place in the family history of individual families.  These photos show that families have chosen the community art of Cuba as a backdrop for interesting family photos.  The culture and history of a nation is often reflected in the personal photographs of its citizens.  Future years will show that there was public art in Cuba, “Route 66 Mural City,” and history will judge if it had a significant impact.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  The look on this young engineer's face is priceless.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The look on this young engineer's face is priceless.

Official Cuba, Missouri website for murals and more…

Visit all parts of our site and read our blog posts for the official information on the Viva Cuba Mural Project in Cuba, Missouri and other aspects of life in Cuba. Learn our history, see historic preservation in Cuba, and view photos of what is going on with Public Art in Cuba, Missouri “Route 66 Mural City.”

Set this site as a  favorite, bookmark us, or set up an RSS feed for new blog posts. We want you to hangout in our neighborhood.

Cuba, Missouri River Mural

The nearby rivers have been a source of Cuba's history and recreation.

Become a fan of Cuba, MO Murals on Facebook or follow Cuba MO Murals  on Twitter.

Before and after images tell the tale of restoration in Cuba, Missouri…

Before the station was restored, it had lost a lot of its eye appeal.

Before the Phillips 66 Station was restored, it had lost a lot of its eye appeal.

The old garage bays were not the attractive site that they are today.

The old garage bays were not the attractive site that they are today.

The restored station is now an attractive additon to the community.

The restored station is now an attractive additon to the community.

The murals on the garage bays now draw many travelers to take photographs.

The murals on the garage bays now draw many travelers to take photographs.

The old 1930s Phillips 66 station has a long history in Cuba. Built by Paul T. Carr, it had been a Phillips 66 station serving the needs of Route 66 travelers.  When Carr expanded the operation, it became a Pontiac dealership as well.

When Carr sold it, it went through various owners and brands of stations until the Bill and Lynn Wallis bought it in 1968.  It became their first Mobll station and “office” of the fledgling Wallis Oil business.   From that modest beginning, Wallis Companies has expanded  and grown to the point where it has over 600 employees in Missouri.  The home office is still in Cuba, but it is in the modern brick building across the street.

Lynn and Bill Wallis always retained  an appreciation for the small building where they got their start, but they didn’t quite know what to do with it. A fast food franchise wanted to buy it, but they knew it would be torn down, so they refused.  Then after Bill died of cancer in 2001, Lynn Wallis began a project that would honor both Bill and the station’s history.

Working with Viva Cuba, a Route 66 Preservation grant, the Phillips 66 organzaiton, and others, the Wallis family restored the station to how it would have looked in the 1930s.

Viva Cuba hired Missouri artist Ray Harvey to paint the vintage scenes on the garage bays to commemorate the memory of Bill Wallis and the history of the station.

Now,  Lynn Wallis and her children who help run the business can view the little station with pride.

Travelers can stop and see a part of Americana along Route 66.

And the town of Cuba, Missouri can be grateful that a part of its history has been preserved in an attractive way.

Visit the homepage for all things Viva Cuba.

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