By Karen Cernich
If you’re planning a thru-ride of the Katy Trail (or even just a weekend getaway) and you’re in need of accommodations, the Bank Haus in downtown Marthasville is not to be missed. This circa 1900 building that was once home to The Marthasville Bank, as well as the town post office, the Marthasville Record newspaper and, most recently, Doc McHugh’s dental practice, is now a 4-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath vacation rental that sleeps up to 12. Named one of the coolest vacation rentals in the country by USA Today Travel, as much for its location directly off the Katy Trail and its proximity to Missouri wineries (Lake Creek Winery is 2 miles down the road; Blumenhoff Winery in Dutzow is 6 miles by bike; and Augusta Brew Haus is 13 miles by bike) as for its unique historical details, the Bank Haus is unlike any other vacation rental you’ll find. One feature that guests find comical is the walk-in bank vault-turned-laundry room.
“You can legally launder inside of our bank, I like to tell people,” said Tyann (Marcink) Hammond, who owns the Bank Haus at 303 Depot Street in Marthasville with her husband, Nat.
The property has also caught the attention of The History Channel, which contacted the Hammonds a couple of months ago about possibly including the Bank Haus on a show featuring historic buildings that have been repurposed for residential living. No word yet on whether it will be part of the show.
Although the exact history of the building is not clear, Tyann said she and Nat have been able to piece together some facts by combing through old newspaper articles. It was home to the Marthasville Bank from 1902 until 1929 or ’30. “It barely made it through the (Stock Market) crash and then consolidated with the bank in Treloar,” she said, adding that Marthasville was the biggest bank in Warren County at the time. “Soon after, they ended up having to sell off the assets, according to the newspaper.”
‘This Is the One!’
Tyann, who grew up across the Missouri River in Franklin County, bought the old bank building in January 2018 because she saw its potential. She already owned two rentals in Branson and was looking to invest in a property closer to home.
“I’m the sixth generation of my family living in the area, and I grew up riding the Katy Trail,” Tyann said. “As a little girl, I’d ride my bike past Marthasville, and I always thought it would be so cool to live here.
“When this property was pointed out to me and I walked in, I looked at my realtor and said, ‘This is it! This is the one!’ ”
People were surprised to hear her plans and a few even questioned whether she could be successful. “Why would tourists come here?” many of the locals asked.
“But when we read our reviews and talk to our guests, they see what I saw as a little girl — a gorgeous, charming little community that has this little bit of magic, and when the sun rises and sets over the Katy Trail, it’s just beautiful,” said Tyann. And having two restaurants within walking distance (Philly’s Pizza two doors down and Cori’s Twin Gables further down the road) makes it that much more enticing.
Guests include a good number of St. Louis area residents looking to get out of the city and into wine country, but a fair number are from neighboring states like Tennessee, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas and even some from as far away as D.C., Oklahoma and Florida.
The Katy Trail is a big drawing card for guests of the Bank Haus, the Hammonds said. For some it is the reason they are booking a stay, and for others it gives them something fun to do while they’re here. “Some come for a week, bring their bikes and use Marthasville as a base point to go out to ride the Trail. They’ll also use the Bank Haus as a base point while they explore wine country,” Tyann said. “Other folks come because they’re going to a wedding at Lake Creek Winery or Boone Monument Village, and then they’ll enjoy the trail and the wineries over the extended weekend.”
Book Your Spring, Summer, Fall Stay Now
As you might expect, availability isn’t a big problem right now at the Bank Haus, but every week that we get closer to spring, the calendar is filling up. “We already have people booking their one-night stays during the week for their thru-rides,” Tyann said. And, of course, COVID has changed everything. Now that so many people can work remotely, many have been booking longer stays. With that in mind, the Hammonds’ advice to anyone wanting to book a thru-ride of the Katy Trail is that the sooner you plan out your trip and book your overnight accommodations, the better. They pointed out that there are many services on the trail (including restaurants like Philly’s Pizza in Marthasville and the Treloar Bar & Grill in Treloar) that are closed on Mondays, so riders need to plan accordingly.
To learn more helpful tips on planning a thru-ride of the Katy Trail, the Hammonds said there are several Facebook groups, including the Katy Trail Rider Group, with useful information.
The couple love riding the Katy Trail and get on it as often as they can. One of their favorite outings is to ride a 20-mile section visiting wineries or do other exploring. They have yet to complete their own thru-ride of the Trail (it had been one of their goals for 2020), but they’re hoping it find the time to do it this year or next.
Perfect Starting Point
Marthasville is a perfect starting point for 15-, 20- and 30-mile rides (or less) on the Trail. Four miles East is Dutzow, which includes the Dutzow Deli right off the trail, Femme Osage Antiques just a short walk (or ride) along Highway 94 and Blumenhof Winery, which actually has an access point directly from the trail. Keep going another 7 or 8 miles and you’ll reach Augusta, which has a number of specialty shops and award-winning wineries. If you head West from Marthasville, it’s a 3 ½-mile ride to Peers, which is home to Peers General Store (which offers public restrooms and a place to buy water, Gatorade and even an ice cream) and the Peers Prairie. Ride another 4 miles down the Trail and you’ll reach Treloar, where you can relax while taking in the beauty of the Trees of Treloar, pose for a selfie with Missouri’s “Biggest Ear of Corn” and refuel with a hamburger from the Treloar Bar & Grill.
With so much to see and taste along this stretch of the trail, you’ll want to take your time each day you go out for a ride.
The Bank Haus is one of four vacation rentals that the Hammonds own. In Marthasville, they also have the Katy Haus, a one-bedroom house (next door to the Bank Haus) which sleeps five. In Branson, they own two rentals and are building a third. They also manage six others in Washington, Villa Ridge and St. Charles. Visit www.missourihaus.com to see photos and learn more about each property.