From Lewis and Clark to present – Jefferson City’s historical walk

Jefferson City started from a small landing party near the Missouri River. The Lewis and Clark team visited the area early during its exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. Today, the city of about 43,000 people serves as Missouri’s capital.

Jefferson City
Lewis and Clark statues near the capitol.

When settlers founded the town, they named it Lohman’s Landing, after one of the original residents. Changed later in honor of President Thomas Jefferson, state leaders selected the city as the state capitol because of its central location along the Missouri River, which was the main transportation route during the early 1800s.

Lohman’s Building, which once served as the area’s general store, is located at the Jefferson Landing State Historical Site, along with two other original buildings.

Jefferson City
The original Lohman’s store at Jefferson Landing.

As fans of architecture, Lisa and I enjoy touring a city’s older area and checking out buildings’ designs and history.

The Missouri state capitol is located a couple blocks from the Landing. The current capitol is the third version in Jefferson City, because fires destroyed the first two buildings.

The governor’s mansion is a few blocks from the capitol. The mansion’s grounds feature exquisite landscaping and a water fountain. The building sits atop a bluff with a view of the Missouri River.

Jefferson City
Missouri governor’s mansion.

As Jefferson City grew, businesses sprouted and more people arrived. The downtown business district features several buildings from the 1800s. Today, visitors can view some of the original downtown buildings on a self-guided tour covering about a 10-block area.

Jefferson City
Jefferson City offers an impressive look at late 1800s and early 1900s architecture.

The Exchange and Trust Bank Building is the oldest business in Jefferson City. The original bank opened in 1865. The building can be recognized by the four-faced clock that has stood in front for about eight decades.

Jefferson City
This building was Jefferson City’s first business.

The Lohman Opera House was built in the late 1880s. The three-story theater was designed in the Victorian style. It was built next to Lohman’s Mercantile.

Jefferson City
The Opera House.

The Cole County courthouse is more than a century old. Designed in Romanesque style, the courthouse’s construction was completed around 1908. Fire damaged it in 1918, and locals rebuilt the courthouse.

Jefferson City
Cole County courthouse was rebuilt in 1918 following a fire.

Jefferson City is home to the oldest synagogue west of the Mississippi River. Temple Beth El opened its door to the local Jewish faith in 1883.

Jefferson City
The oldest synagogue west of the Mississippi River is located in Jefferson City.

Jefferson City started on a small piece of land next to the Missouri River, but it has grown into a city with an interesting architecture history. We encourage you to visit the downtown and Capitol district to view some of that history.

For more information on Jefferson City and its attractions, please visit