Towns like Pleasant Hill must work diligently to look after their history, and the Pleasant Hill Historical Society Museum is the heart of such operations. Nestled right in the heart of the Historic District, the construction of the building has an important history. Formerly Kosky Barber Shop, the stone edifice of the building was assembled using pieces of the Gamble Mansion, originally built in 1866, and previously owned by the son of Hamilton R. Gamble, the governor of Missouri during the Civil War. In 1904, those stones, along with the door and front windows, were removed and used in the construction of the barber shop.
The building remained unaltered for nearly seventy years, when, in 1971, disaster struck. A fire had broken out on Wyoming Street, demolishing the interior of the barber shop and completely destroying two other nearby buildings. For the next five years, the barber shop lay dormant as crews eventually worked to remodel the interior while preserving the historic exterior. In 1976, coinciding with the country’s Bicentennial, the barber shop was fully converted into the Pleasant Hill Historical Society Museum. Over the next forty years, the museum collected and organized historical pieces related to the city, from the collection of missionary James Allen, to memorabilia from the town’s early days as a railroad hub.
By the 2010s, the Historical Society began to outgrow the former barber shop, and made plans to expand the site, breaking ground on the project in 2011. Within a few years, a new building was added onto the side of the barber shop, retaining the museum’s connection to the past while allowing for more space. Today, the museum is the anchor for Pleasant Hill’s Historic District, supporting itself through donations and the yearly Railroad Days in April. Through their expertise, the historical society effectively maintains and promotes the history of Pleasant Hill.