The 1905 Jefferson Barracks Post Exchange & Gymnasium Building was originally designed in 1903 by the United States government and built a short time later in 1905. It was designed primarily as an athletic and activity center for soldiers. Our building is known to have three surviving sister buildings in existence today, one at Fort Monroe, Virginia, one at Madison Barracks, New York, and another at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. A fourth sister building, formerly located at Fort Des Moines in Iowa, was torn down in 1963.
Our building only lasted for 13 years as a recreational facility when it was needed as a troop barracks for World War I. Company A of the 6th Infantry moved into the building in 1918 and called it home until shortly before the outbreak of World War II. During World War II, the building was again utilized as an athletic facility and then in 1942, the building became an overflow ward for the nearby Jefferson Barracks Hospital.
In 1946, the building became vacant and abandoned for the next 60 years. In 2002, the Missouri Civil War Museum was formed and a decade-long restoration of the historic structure began. Through a grassroots effort of fundraising and hard work, the not-for-profit organization raised the funding needed to save the building and open the new Civil War museum.
It is important to note that no Federal or State funding was utilized in the restoration and establishment of this museum. The vast majority of the funding required to save the historic building and convert it into a new history museum was raised from private individuals with only one substantial corporate contributor over the years.
In June 2013, the Missouri Civil War Museum opened its doors as the premier Civil War museum in the state. Its staff has received countless preservation awards. Due to the high volume of praise and positive reviews through TripAdvisor, the museum is listed in the Top 3 Museums of St. Louis and received a 2013 Certificate of Excellence.