Rice-Tremonti Historic Home & Aunt Sophie’s Cabin
8801 E. 66th.
Raytown MO 64133
The home and surrounding 6 plus acres is located alongside the Santa Fe Trail. The oldest standing frame house in Jackson County, Missouri, the Rice-Tremonti Home along with Aunt Sophie’s Cabin have borne witness to the sweep of American history. With beginnings as a way-point on the Santa Fe Trail and as jumping off point for emigrants to Oregon and California the wooden house endured the ravages of border warfare and the Civil War. With a history spanning 173 years, the Rice-Tremonti Home has an important story to tell.
This site was settled first in 1836 by Archibald Rice. The Rices settled on a claim of 160 acres in what is now Raytown. The homestead was located eight miles from Independence on the Santa Fe Trail. The family cleared the land and originally built a two-story log house and several cabins for slaves. After an eight-year habitation, Archibald and Sally built a new Gothic Revival frame farmhouse in 1844. The Rice Farm quickly became a popular camping site for travelers bound for Santa Fe and California.
There was space for wagons, springs for watering, corn and prairie grasses for feeding animals. At least 27 original accounts by travelers (dating from 1838 to 1849) spoke favorably of Archibald Rice’s hospitality. During those years restless farmers and their families were undertaking the long trek to Oregon and soon thousands of travelers were rushing to the gold fields of California.
Archibald died in Oct. 1849 and his estate passed to his son, Elihu Coffee Rice. When Coffee and Catherine “Kitty” Stoner White were married in Nov. 1850, the slave Sophia White accompanied Kitty to her new home. Sophia attended the births of the couple’s five children and became known affectionately as “Aunt” Sophie. She lived in a small cabin near the back door of the Rice home, where she cooked the family’s meals in the large hearth.
The old cabin went through many incarnations over the years. In 2004 the Friends of the Rice-Tremonti Home replaced Aunt Sophie’s Cabin using antique logs exclusively. A cabin presumably has stood in that location since the 1830s.
The Civil War brought crisis to the Rice family. As slave holding southerners, the family evacuated to Texas in 1861, entrusting the care of their home to James Hunter and family. In 1863 following the imposition of martial law, all remaining southern sympathizers in Jackson County were forced from their lands. The Hunters were evicted from the house. For reasons unknown to later generations, the Rice home escaped destruction, unlike so many of Jackson County’s antebellum houses.
The family returned and re-claimed their home in 1866. Aunt Sophie remained with the Rice family and continued to live in her cabin until shortly before her death in 1896. Her grave in Woodlawn Cemetery was finally marked in 2004 by the city of Independence. Coffee Rice had become a prominent Jackson County citizen, serving as road commissioner before his death in 1903. In his will, Coffee Rice stipulated the old home place be sold.
Between 1906 and 1922 the land was owned by Judge Joseph M. Lowe and his son. There were many changes to the house and grounds including a chicken dinner restaurant and an iris farm. Judge Lowe was a founder of the National Old Trails Association, and influenced the Daughters of the American Revolution to mark the route of the Old Santa Fe Trail across Missouri with pink granite markers. The marker commemorating the Rice plantation was dedicated on May 15, 1913.
In 1929, Dr. Louis G. Tremonti and his wife, Lois Gloria, bought the Rice house and two adjoining lots and undertook an extensive renovation, adding six dormers on the second floor, and extending the kitchen in back.
Dr. Tremoni practiced medicine in an examining room on the west side of the house. The Tremontis endeavored to retain the old house’s historical integrity. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Dr. Tremonti died in 1949. Gloria continued to savor life in her historic home and lived there until 1987.
In 1988 Mrs. Lois Gloria Tremonti sold the property to the Friends of the Rice-Tremonti Home Association, which undertook the campaign to restore the house, which had fallen into a state of serious deterioration. After 13 years of effort, the Friends in 2000 secured state grant funding sufficient to retire the $300,000 private mortgage. The late Sen. Harry Wiggins and the Mid-America Regional Council were instrumental in securing state funding for Rice-Tremonti.
In 2015, after many years of diligent work by many people, Santa Fe Trail Association has honored the Rice-Tremonti Home Association with the Pete & Faye Gaines Memorial Heritage Preservation Award.
The Friends of the Rice-Tremonti Home
The Friends of the Rice-Tremonti Home formed in 1988 with a mission to preserve and restore one of the few remaining pre-Civil War houses in the Kansas City area. The mission is ongoing.
Today the property is owned by the City of Raytown, however, the Friends of Rice-Tremonti are responsible for all fund-raising, administration, upkeep and restoration activities. No tax monies are used in support of Rice-Tremonti.
That’s why they need you to become a member today and help their ongoing efforts to preserve this remnant of our pioneer heritage. They are a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3, tax-exempt organization.
The Friends of the Rice-Tremonti Home
P.O. Box 9393 Raytown, MO 64133