The ferry captain's house
David and Barbara Plummer open their historic
Huber's Ferry home to guests
From a bluff high
above the Osage and Maries rivers William Huber could look down on
his empire. Sprawled at his feet were the 500 acres of rich farmland
he owned, several lots in the now-forgotten village of Lisletown and
the ferry boat and landing passed on to him by his father, Frederic.
and Barbara Plummer stroll the grounds of their Huber's Ferry Bed
and Breakfast and take in the magnificent view of the Osage and
Maries rivers. Their inn is located near Westphalia in central
man of means, William Huber decided to build a new house on the bluff
to replace the flood-prone one on the banks of the Maries River. The
year was 1881. Though William died in 1914, his legacy lives on at
one of Osage County’s most
recognized landmarks thanks to a couple who made its restoration their labor
Today it has been
restored to its former glory and is known as Huber’s
Ferry Bed and Breakfast.
David and Barbara
Plummer were state employees who saw retirement approaching. “We
were looking for a place to retire,” Barbara recalls. “David
likes to fish. This was advertised as having river access. Right!”
the fishing access would have required several hundred feet of line to
reach water, the magnificent view captivated the Plummers like it must
have done to William Huber a century earlier.
and Mary Huber’s portraits gaze down on new owners David
and Barbara Plummer as they sit in the parlor at the old house.
“There is not
a better view to be obtained anywhere on the Osage River than from
this residence” was written in William’s obituary.
estate advertisement for the house caught the Plummer’s attention. “Like
a lot of other people I wanted to see it,” Barbara says. “We
fell in love with it.”
It’s a good
thing for the old house that David and Barbara came along when they
did. A less intrepid couple might have bought the place for the view
and pushed the house over the bluff into the river.
After William died
his son, Charles, inherited the house and the ferry. In 1922 the
first Highway 50 bridge across the Osage River doomed the ferry operation.
Charles died in 1955 and in turn his son, Carl, took over the house
and the family farm. It would remain in the family until 1990, when
Carl’s widow sold
it to a Jefferson City doctor.
When it sold again
two years later the house would fall into the hands of a loving couple
who had no idea what they were getting into.
time from her chores to give one of the resident cats some attention.
Looking back, David
remembers thinking the view was all that was worth saving when the
couple tackled the restoration effort. The years had taken their toll
on the mansion. “It
was only empty two years,” Barbara says. “But
it doesn’t take an old house long to deteriorate when
There were holes
in the floor. The roof leaked. Paint and plaster hung in tatters from
the interior walls. The front porches were completely gone and the
two-story rear porches needed work.
Undaunted, the two
rolled up their sleeves. Because they hadn’t yet retired,
a full-scale assault on the house wasn’t possible.
Instead they dabbled at it on weekends.
And then the rains
came. The flood of 1993 couldn’t touch the house
on the high ground. But the torrential downpours that
caused the flood found every opening the elements had
made in the house.
“The rain came
from everywhere,” says
Barbara. “We hadn’t
expected anything like that. That was one of our most
Still the two kept
working. They stripped a century of paint off the walls until
they discovered the original colors. They learned
to patch cracked plaster. They replaced plumbing and wiring
and found creative ways to hide both in a house built
with three layers of solid brick.
Meanwhile the family
showed Barbara old photos of the building. From these they were able
to replace the missing front porch, accurate to the gingerbread
trim William and his wife, Mary, installed originally.
They also replaced the missing picture rail molding inside.
With the hard work completed, the couple painted the bedroom
walls the original colors.
and Mary Huber stand in the yard of the house not long after
it was built in 1881. This photo helped the Plummers restore
the porch, which was gone when they bought the house 111 years
“We could tell
by the last layer of paint,” Barbara says. “The
paint they used back then was a chalk-based paint.
Our paint won’t stick
to that. That’s the reason we had to scrape
it all off.
more work than we thought there would be. A lot more work. And
like any old house there’s still work
to be done.”
But after all the
hard work the fun part began. The couple searched for
antiques to match the newly restored house.
They also brought family treasures out of
storage. Meanwhile Huber family members donated heirlooms
to the cause, including William and Mary’s
25th wedding anniversary commemoration wall
hanging and portraits of the two that now
hang in the parlor.
To justify buying
such a large house for just two people, the Plummers
planned to open it to guests when the work
was complete. “Our first guests were
from the Huber family,” Barbara says. “I’m
sure in the beginning they were kind of
wondering what we were doing. Some hadn’t
seen the house as we were working on it
and one of them, when she came in the door
my, it was a mansion.’ ”
Plummers stay in touch with the family,
collecting stories and memorabilia whenever
possible. They have a “Huber rate” that requires either
a photo or story to be used.
Huber’s Ferry Bed and Breakfast officially opened in 1998. Since
then the couple has entertained guests from all over the United States.
Thanks to an Internet presence, visitors from Japan, Australia and Europe
have also enjoyed their hospitality.
highway project at the junction of Highways 50 and 63 took out
part of the bluff on which the old house sits but didn’t
ruin its status as a landmark. The cottage in the center caters
to guests who want more modern conveniences like a fireplace and
hot tub while the huge barn, built in 1894, has been used for wedding
receptions and other parties.
Guests can choose
from two single rooms and one suite in the old house. A separate
cottage recently opened to give guests
the incredible view along with more modern
conveniences like a jetted two-person tub,
fireplace and king-size bed.
The Huber house was
always a center for social events and that tradition continues. The
Plummers have hosted several wedding receptions and parties in the
cavernous three-story barn, easily the largest in Osage County. Their
hard work has preserved a central Missouri landmark for many more generations
You can reach
Ferry Bed and Breakfast at (573) 455-2979 or toll-free at 1-877-454-2979.
Their Web site is www.hubersferrybedandbreakfast.com.