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Timmons Hall event tells story of Lake Placid, Missouri

Flyer from the Freedom Classroom 101 event held Thursday February 1.
Timmons Hall
Flyer from the Freedom Classroom 101 event held Thursday February 1.

Ninety years ago, a segregation era resort for Black Americans thrived on the lake in Morgan County.

“In 1934, two Black men from Kansas City were looking for a place for Black people to have freedom because they knew...that the Lake of the Ozarks would not accept Black people at that time.” That’s how Brendalyn King began the story of Lake Placid, Missouri.

Dr. P. C. Turner and J. M. Sojourner turned that ambition into a resort community around the lake.

Ninety years later, King, a Black female entrepreneur, is developing an industrial hemp farm on land along the lake. She said she and her partner acquired the land without knowing the history. They’ve since become invested in not just their business, but the story of Lake Placid. It's a story she describes as one of freedom and self-determination.

“Lake Placid is the most beautiful case of race relations in our state,” she explained. “How did black people have freedom on 346 acres in the middle of Morgan County, Missouri?”

King presented on the lake, situated north of the Big Buffalo Creek Conservation area, last Thursday, as part of Freedom Classroom 101.

Freedom Classroom is a series of place-based Black history programming organized by Timmons Hall in Springfield.

King shared her and her partner’s project: Salem Hemp Kings. She also explained their broader project to revitalize Lake Placid.

Dr. Gary R. Kremer, executive director, Secretary and librarian for Missouri’s State Historical Society, followed King's talk. He described the history of — and lack of — Black history preservation in Missouri. And he celebrated the story of Lake Placid and the work King is doing.

Ultimately, as Missouri was desegregated in the mid-20th century, Dr. Kremer said Lake Placid fell out of popularity. Its history was largely lost. King hopes to revitalize that story and bring people back to the lake. They are looking into opening their land to camping, building hemp buildings on site and finding new avenues to share the story of Lake Placid.

"These stories,” King said, “have been dormant for 90 years, and it's our job to bring some light to them.”

Timmons Hall, formerly known as Timmons Temple, is owned and operated by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, directed by coordinator Christine Peoples. Find more about Brendalyn King’s work at Lake Placid at her website salemhempkings.com.
View the full Freedom Classroom 101 program at this link.