Built in 1856 by a local businessman, the building that houses the Silver Heart Inn is one of the few Independence structures that survived the Civil War. In post Appomattox times it remained a private residence, until Melanie and Perry Johnson purchased it in 2012 and converted it to a B&B. Today you can get a taste of the past in this stately manor, yet still enjoy the creature comforts of modern times. Additionally, since Melanie’s nephew has cerebral palsy, she is acutely aware of the difficulties associated with accessible travel. Says Melanie, “I’ve not really found a lot of properties that can accommodate an attendant or a family caregiver, so I’m glad we are able to provide this for our guests.”
There’s accessible parking in a paved lot, with level access up to the ramped back entrance. The four guestrooms are located upstairs, with direct elevator access up to the Roy Gamble Room. The Shirley Gamble Room is located next door, and the rooms may be rented together to form a large accessible suite, or individually, if you only need one room. The two rooms share a bathroom, so if only one room is booked, Melanie blocks the other, so guests can be assured of a private bathroom.
The Shirley Gamble Room is the larger of the two guestrooms, and it’s furnished with a 33-inch high queen-sized bed with access on both sides. The Roy Gamble Room is much smaller and has a 28-inch high twin bed.
The bathroom is located next to the Roy Gamble Room, and although it’s not an adjoining room, it’s located in a semi-private hallway, and no other rooms are located in that wing.
The bathroom is equipped with a roll-in shower with a hand-held showerhead and a portable shower chair. Other access features include a roll-under sink, and a large tile floor that makes for easy rolling. The toilet grab bar setup is unique, but it was designed specifically for the previous owner who had a stroke. There are standard grab bars on the back and left walls, (as seated), and a floor mounted grab bar on the other side. The floor mounted grab bar only extends halfway out from the back wall, so there is room for a side transfer, but it may be difficult for some folks.
I love the fact that there is an elevator in this historic B&B, as you rarely find this feature in small properties like this. It was installed by Roy Gamble, the former owner, after he had a stroke. It’s nice to see that this wonderful old property is more accessible because of this addition.
The roll-in shower is nicely done and will accommodate most people, but the toilet grab bars could be problematic for people in large power wheelchairs. The rooms can be rented as a suite, and they will certainly accommodate a caregiver or a child, but the bed in the Shirley Gamble Room is too high for most wheelchair-users (it even comes with a step stool). That said, if you can sleep in the lower bed in the Roy Gamble Room this property may work for you. This is a good choice for slow walkers and part time wheelchair-users, and it’s the perfect home base to explore historic Independence.
The Harry S. Truman Library & Museum (www.trumanlibrary.org) is just a mile away from the inn. There’s accessible parking near the entrance, with ramp access up to the front door. The museum contains an interesting collection of exhibits that focus on the timeline of Truman’s presidency, including the end days of World War II and Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb. There’s also information about the Truman family home, lots of family photos and a collection of Truman’s cars.
There’s level access out to the courtyard, where an eternal flame shines over the Truman graves. There is also level access to the annex which contains the former president’s office, which he used from 1957 to 1966.
The Truman family home is also worth a visit. You can buy tickets at the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site Visitor Center (www.nps.gov/hstr), located downtown on the corner of Truman Road and Main Street. There’s level access to the building, and accessible seating in the auditorium, where a short film about the home is presented.
The home itself is located about a half-mile away at 219 N. Delaware, but if you decided to walk take Maple Street, as it’s the most accessible route. You can also drive to the home, but there’s no accessible parking in the street. There is a seven-inch step up to the yard, and although there are four steps up to the front porch, a stair climber is available.
There’s level access to the first-floor rooms, including the kitchen, dining room, parlor and living room. The house is left as it was when Bess Truman died in 1982. The tour is very informative and it’s almost like stepping into a time capsule. Harry’s coat and hat are even still hanging by the door, as if he’ll be there to put them on any minute.
Silver Heart Inn
1114 S. Noland Road
Independence, MO 64050