One of the most attractive and historically preserved locations in Sweet Springs is the downtown Historic District. This downtown district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 and is a beautiful example of the architecture of the late 1800s as well as buildings that were constructed a few decades later as Sweet Springs intended to build out the town as a shopping destination. The core of the downtown was built from 1875 through about 1920. The city of Sweet Springs was known for its natural springs that were considered a health remedy for various illnesses. It became a destination location due to the 'sweet springs' and a health resort was established toward the end of the 19th century. Many towns in central Missouri were popular for the outdoor and health benefits of the springs, including numerous in Saline County and surrounding counties. With a combination of the springs, the railroad, and the shopping region, Sweet Springs was a bustling town.
The Historic District in Sweet Springs is an area of approximately 3.6 acres and encompasses four streets downtown; including Lexington Avenue, West Marshall Avenue, South Miller Street, and Spring Street. The area was attractive for commerce, trade, and other business plus for hospitality as a hotel was in the historic area. It also was the home for governmental functions such as city hall and the post office. Largely, the buildings are of brick construction and are of Queen Anne style with some Victorian architecture. One of the buildings, the Chemical Bank building, built in 1905 and is located on the corner of Miller and Marshall, is of Classical Revival style. All told, there are 26 contributing buildings listed on the National Register. Some of the buildings in the downtown section have been altered, but retain their historic character.
The 1882 Tornado, the same one that destroyed the First Christian Church, heavily damaged the hotel and multiple buildings though repairs were made and usage continued. Through time and neglect over the past century, many of the buildings have become in disrepair and attempts have been made to revitalize some of these buildings and the downtown area. One particular family has been investing both time and money to renovate the historic area. Bill and Phyllis Koch moved from Chillicothe, MO in 2018. They were originally from Sweet Springs and have a passion for local history. The couple has purchased a building on South Miller Street known as the Colonnades and they have been busy raising funds to bring history back to life in the old brick building. The Colonnades building was originally built in the early 1900s and is a two-story structure that runs 200 feet in length. The Koch's will do what they can to preserve the building for future generations.
All told, the Koch's estimate it will cost almost a million dollars to renovate the historic building. In town, you'll also find the Sweet Springs Historical Society on South Miller Street and its members operate a museum in the Chemical Bank building. Since 1972 the Sweet Springs Historical Society has been actively involved in researching, collecting, and preserving historical artifacts and documents related to Sweet Springs.