Waters-Moss Memorial Wildlife Area History

History courtesy of  the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website.

“In 1853, Daniel Doresy Moss acquired this property which became known as “Hill Crest Farm”. Mr. Moss was an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Missouri and he began the business of producing smallpox vaccine at this location. This business continued for several years until competition in the vaccine business made it more profitable to raise cows on the farm. Dairying became the chief income operation of Hill Crest Farm, and this business, under several ownerships but using the same name, “Hillcrest Dairy”, was the primary use of the property.

The Moss home, a stately, two-story, frame structure was the site of much social life for Columbians during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After the Moss Family ceased living in the home, it was converted to small apartments and during the 1950’s and 60’s, University of Missouri students frequently rented rooms in the home.

At the time of its donation to the Department of Conservation, the Moss home, the “Grade A” dairy barn and foreman’s house had been converted to small, rental apartments. Students who rented these rooms enjoyed the best of the country living while still being less than one mile from the campus of the university.

Both Mr. C.B. Moss and Mr. H.J. Waters donated their respective parts of the Hillcrest farm to the Department in 1972. Each retained life estate for himself, and in the case of Mr. Waters, for his wife also. Both gentlemen preceded Mrs. Waters in death, and in 1975 the Department took possession of the Moss twenty acre tract which contained the house and converted apartments.

The house was remodeled to serve as office space for department personnel based in Columbia, and it served in this capacity until January, 1983. Department personnel moved from the Moss house at that time and it was to be sold for material salvage in preparation for the construction of the Columbia District Headquarters. Shortly after it was empty, an arsonist set the structure afire in the early morning hours and it was completely incinerated.

The Department took possession of the entire area after Mrs. Waters’ death in 1985. “

City of Columbia Takes Over Management of the Waters-Moss Memorial Wildlife Area

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) began negotiations in 2007 with the City of Columbia to work out a land swap agreement – the 110-acre Waters-Moss Memorial Wildlife Area for 12.5 acres at the Gans Creek Recreation to build a new MDC regional office.  An agreement was executed in 2009 and amended in 2010 for related sewer construction at Gans Creek Recreation Area. (See  Council items.) When MDC’s new regional office was completed in June 2012, MDC vacated their offices at the Waters-Moss Memorial Wildlife Area and Columbia Parks and Recreation took over active management of the property.  As a condition of the agreement, the property remains open for deer and turkey archery hunting under MDC hunting regulations

Waters-Moss MDC Offices
Waters-Moss MDC Maintenance Shop


Dedication of Hillcrest Community Center and Moss Building

Dedication Date: August 28, 2014

Dedication Program

In 2013, Parks and Recreation staff began renovating two of the buildings on site to house the recreation staff and programs formerly located at the Stephens Lake Activity Center. The Hillcrest Community Center formerly housed the MDC office and the Moss Building was an MDC maintenance garage.  After the renovations were completed, an open house and dedication were held for the two buildings on August 28, 2014. Speakers at the dedication included:

  • Parks and Recreation Director Mike Griggs
  • Mayor Bob McDavid
  • Hank Waters
  • Beverly Cook, University of Missouri Extension
Audience at Hillcrest Community Center and Moss Building Dedication
Hillcrest Community Center Ribbon Cutting

Capital Improvement Projects and Council Items
Year Completed Project Description
Council Item: Lease and Memorandum of Understanding with MDC for land swap
Council Item: Lease Amendment with MDC
Council Item: Property Acquisition – In-Holding Lot


  • 2014
  • 2014
  • 2015

Waters-Moss Memorial Wildlife Area – Phase I

  • Hillcrest Community Center (remodel former MDC headquarters)
  • Moss Building (remodel former MDC maintenance garage)
  • Park development


  • 2014
  • 2014
  • 2014

FY 2014 Roads and Parking:

  • Hillcrest Community Center parking lot expansion
  • Remove and replace ADA parking with concrete
  • New asphalt parking lot


FY 2016 Roads and Parking:

  • Grading, rock and asphalt for an additional parking lot.
Waters House Renovations


MDC Website

Waters-Moss Memorial Wildlife Area