The Bentley House is a historic home located at 603 E. Calhoun in Springfield, Missouri. It's also known as the Museum of the Ozarks. Construction of this house began in 1892. The architectural style is Queen Anne. It's a two-and-a-half-story brick structure that served as a family dwelling until 1964. From 1965 to 1977, the house served as a dormitory for Drury College. Lastly, it was home to the Museum of the Ozarks for several years.
Jewett (J.) F.G. Bentley (b. Aug. 31, 1838, d. Sept. 29, 1912), built the house. He came to Missouri from Ohio after the Civil War. He and his wife, Tryphena Crane, settled in Ash Grove (northwest of Springfield). They had two sons, Elwyn and Frank.
In 1873, Bentley partnered with J.C. Perryman and founded the Bank of Ash Grove. In 1882, he moved to Springfield with his family, and being entrepreneurial, he was involved with business and the financial community. Bentley served as the president of the Bank of Springfield and was considered a prominent citizen in Southwest Missouri.
Elwyn and Frank worked at the Bank of Springfield until J.F.G.'s death in 1912. Soon thereafter the bank was sold; and Elwyn and Frank "retired" at ages 46 and 44. (Source.)
A tragedy occurred with his son, Elwyn, who committed suicide at age 60 after being arrested for practicing dentistry without a license in St. Louis. The arrest caused humiliation and it's believed he couldn't live with causing disgrace to his family.
After Frank retired, he married Georgia M. Wiley. They both spent a lot of their time at home. Frank had a passion for genealogical research and writing.
Tryphena died at the age of 92 in 1932 and the family estate was left to Frank. Frank and his wife lived in the house until they died. Frank died in 1963 and Georgia died in 1964. Thereafter, the Bentley House was sold to Drury College.
Bentley's lifestyle was demonstrated by the house. When the house was a museum, many visitors came by each month.
The architect of the house was W.F. Hackeny (1854-1899). Hackeny grew up in Springfield, studied in Chicago, and practiced in Kansas City. Interestingly, he also designed the Central Library in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
The Bentley House has been a landmark of interest to people in the area. The 7-bedroom and 4-bathroom house and details command attention and also display Bentley's success. It might have been the first Queen Anne-style home to be built in Springfield.
When Drury College leased the house to the Museum of the Ozarks in 1977, it provided an opportunity to have funds to help restore and preserve the home. In 1979, the museum purchased the house from Drury College and in 1993, sold the Bentley House and relocated to another building.
On November 14, 1980, Bentley House was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The home is currently privately owned.
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