Metro-East News

Bass Pro Shops founder to restore historic Missouri mill

A historic photo of Ozark Mill near the Finley River Dam from the Christian County Soil and Water Conservation District.
A historic photo of Ozark Mill near the Finley River Dam from the Christian County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The founder of Bass Pro Shops has plans to restore a 185-year-old mill near Springfield, Missouri.

Johnny Morris, founder of the popular outdoor gear chain Bass Pro Shops, has owned the historic Ozark Mill on the Finley River since 1993, according to the Springfield Business Journal. Speculation had circulated for years as to his plans for the site, but now he has announced plans to renovate and restore the building and open it to the public as a venue.

The plans include lifting and temporarily moving the structure to allow rebuilding of the foundation, according to the Business Journal.

The mill was constructed in 1833, originally known as Hoover’s Mill and included the original post office before Ozark was actually a town. The original building burned down, and the current structure was built in 1939. It operated for 50 years before the owners sold it to Morris.

Morris also owns more than 32 acres around the mill in a series of purchases since 2012. Bass Pro also owns the America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium, purchased and redeveloped by Morris and reopened in September as Wonders of Wildlife, a nonprofit attraction in Springfield.

They also own the Big Cedar Lodge resort in the Ozark mountains. Bass Pro has been renovating the lodge, fighting sinkholes and caves, and constructing golf courses around the resort, according to the Business Journal.

Restoration at the mill is slated to begin next month.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald

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