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CJ Coombs

This historic Bothwell cliffside mansion of 31 rooms in Sedalia, Missouri uses natural caves for air conditioning

Close up of the west front of Bothwell Lodge in Sedalia, Missouri.RebelAt at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

John Homer Bothwell

In 1896, John Homer Bothwell considered a wealthy lawyer in Sedalia, Missouri, purchased property that’s been referred to as Stoneyridge Farm and the castle on the hill. From the years of 1897 through 1928, he built a lodge that was intended to be a home in the summer high on a rock bluff that overlooked a valley. One of the peculiarities about this piece of construction is that during the construction, a natural cave was discovered. There was the consideration that maybe the caves could be a source of natural air conditioning. Noteworthy, the limestone that was used in the building of this lodge was found on site.

It took 31 years and four building phases to complete the 12,000-square-foot Bothwell Lodge, which contains 31 rooms on three levels (the tower has four) that illustrate many cultural and architectural changes of the period from 1890 through 1929. (Source.)

Most of Bothwell's life, he was a widower. He was married to Hattie E. Jaynes Bothwell from 1884 to 1887, which was also the year she died. They also had a child who appears to have died at birth.

During Bothwell's lifetime aside from being a lawyer, he was also an assistant prosecuting attorney for Pettis County from 1873 to 1876. He also served as a circuit court judge in 1890. In 1896, he served as president of the Sedalia National Bank.
Judge John Homer Bothwell.Source: Find a grave.

Bothwell routinely invited friends and family to come to stay at the lodge. When he died on August 4, 1929, at the age of 80, he left the lodge to these people in the group that were known as the Bothwell Lodge Club. The control of the lodge would fall to this club as long as there were more than five members. As soon as the club was reduced to five members, the lodge would be offered to the state and in 1969, that happened.

In 1974, the state acquired the property and began development of Bothwell Lodge State Historic Site, which is administered by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. (Source.)

An interesting feature of the home

During construction, there were natural caves discovered to be under the building site. Interestingly, there was access to the caves that were built into the lodge at different places. This provided for the movement of natural air that was cool to move from the two caves into the building like a form of air conditioning.

Today, visitors can hike on the grounds and tour the estate. The interiors remain mostly unaltered. Allegedly, too, you can feel the air from the caves. Known as the Bothwell Lodge State Historic Site, you can walk through the 31-room estate. You can get a feel for what Bothwell’s tastes were. It’s pretty amazing that he created this lodge not only for himself but for his family and friends too. A lot of the original furnishings are still in the lodge.

Thank you for reading.

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