Rural Missouri - July 2017 - 22
Top: Carleen Johns, left, offers advice to Lisa Santi, right, and her daughter, Nicole, during one of
the open sessions. Carleen is one of the artists who teach here. Above: Sisters June Lawrence,
left, and Kelly Flowers from Dexter make fairy containers in one of Carleen's classes.
by Jim McCarty | firstname.lastname@example.org
hen William Henderson Mayﬁeld and
Dr. H.J. Smith established Will Mayﬁeld
College, their intent was to bring education and culture to Bollinger County. The
college has been closed since 1934, but today its
original mission continues at the Mayﬁeld Cultural
Center in Marble Hill.
Since its opening two years ago, the cultural center has hosted concerts, a strawberry festival, an
exhibit of antique wedding dresses, lectures on the
geology of the area and a piano recital. It has drawn
hundreds of people to take classes ranging from silver jewelry making to baking to stained glass.
Weddings and receptions have been held here
along with dinner theaters. It's also home to a cafe
that is drawing people from a wide radius for ﬁne
dining and desserts. And ballroom dancing lessons
are popular on Tuesday evenings.
The volunteers who turned the defunct college
into a cultural center hope it can be part of a tourism-based economy that returns the county seat to
the prosperity it once enjoyed.
"The railroad used to run through here," volunteer Scott Monteith says of the Iron Mountain
Railroad spur that hauled timber and agricultural
products from the town. "That was the economic
RURAL MISSOURI | JULY 2017
Learning continues at M
stimulus for the town. For the future, I believe, the
dinosaur is the economic stimulus of this community. It is going to be tourism based."
In 1942, a geologist looking for clay deposits near
Glen Allen discovered the bones of a duckbilled
dinosaur that once roamed the landscape of what
is now Bollinger County in southeast Missouri.
Hypsibema missouriense is now the Missouri state
dinosaur and the focal point of the Bollinger County
Museum of Natural History, located next door to
the cultural center in the former Arts and Science
Building on the campus.
When the museum opened, it brought droves of
visitors and school groups to see the extensive collection of fossils, American Indian artifacts and Civil
War history, not to mention the dinosaur. Its success caused the Will Mayﬁeld Heritage Foundation,
owners of the National Register of Historic Places
listed campus, to contemplate what could be done
with the Administration Building and chapel.
They turned to Scott and Brian Derton for advice.
"We told them they needed to preserve this history
here," Scott says. "People would be interested in
seeing the architecture of this 1884 building. That
was their draw."
Volunteers scrapped plans to modernize the
building and instead spent months sanding ﬂoors,
repairing the pressed-tin ceilings, ﬁxing damage
caused by years of vacancy and ﬁnding a place for
bathrooms and other modern necessities. Lisa Santi was one of the workers. She recalls sanding the
ﬂoors "board by board by board."
"A lot of my relatives went to school here," she
says. "I literally found my father's report card."
Scott and Brian stayed on, and set up the Mayﬁeld Cafe upstairs, along with an elegant dining
room with an incredible view from the
hilltop above Marble Hill. Open Thursday
through Sunday, the cafe has become a
dining destination as word spreads about
Brian's culinary creations.
"Sometimes it's overwhelming. For Mother's Day, we knew we had 40 people coming," Scott says. "Well, there was an extra 25
that showed up."
Daily specials include classic comfort
foods such as sloppy Joes, lasagna, ham and
beans and a wide variety of soups and sandwiches, always with a twist. There's also a house salad
- with walnuts, grapes, cucumbers, mushrooms,
tomatoes, feta cheese and rice wine vinaigrette -
that is made to order.
"I'm not a fan of chicken pot pie, or at least I
wasn't," Scott says. "Brian does a chicken pot pie
that everyone loves. We actually have people who
come here just for chicken pot pie."