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Edward G. McQuie Mansion - Antebellum Homes
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Alexander Majors House - Antebellum Homes
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John Wornall House - Antebellum Homes
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Graystone - Antebellum Homes
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Hunter Dawson - Antebellum Homes
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Pemory Washington House - Antebellum Homes
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Silaw Farber House - Antebellum Homes
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Edward G. McQuie Mansion - Antebellum Homes
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Hatchery House Bed and Breakfast - Antebellum Homes
Missouri's rich architectural heritage includes pockets of well-preserved antebellum homes. You can tour many of these beauties that harken back to the days when the optimism and wealth of our early entrepreneurs had not yet been dampened by war. The design and elegance of these homes represent the spirit of the pre-Civil War years of 1830 to 1860.
Antebellum homes in Missouri are typically symmetrical and boxy, blending elements of Greek Revival, Classical Revival, and Federal style. They offer center entrances in the front and rear. The most elaborate homes featured balconies, grand staircases, and even formal ballrooms. Design differences between Missouri's antebellum homes and traditional Southern plantations are a reflection of our state's climate. "Here, you'd be more likely to find homes featuring a central chimney shared by a number of fireplaces," says St. Louis architect Nathan Rauh. "You wouldn't see the big four-sided porticoes like the larger Southern homes. Here in Missouri, with harsh summers and winters, you'd likely find an intelligent combination of porches on the south and west sides to provide shade to the mass of the house, while the north facade would likely have fewer and smaller windows in the face of harsh winter weather coming from the north."
Here are our picks for Missouri's best antebellum homes based on accessibility to the public and the authentic use of period furnishings and fixtures inside and out.
Kansas City Area
Sterling examples of antebellum architecture can be found within forty miles of Kansas City.
The Alexander Majors House, built in 1856, offers a peek at life 150 years ago. The thirty-four-hundred-square-foot home reflects its original owner's wealth and influence. Majors operated a successful freight company on the Santa Fe Tail and helped organize the Pony Express, even hiring Buffalo Bill to his first job. Resotred in 1984, the grand home features original white pine floors and millwork, as well as period furnishings. The site includes a blacksmith shop and examples of the heavy-duty Conestoga wagons Major's company used.
Three miles north, the John Wornall House is a similarly elegant structure, dressed out with Greek Revival flourishes. When coupled with its gracious interior furnishings, Wornall's place was known in the nineteenth century as "the most pretentious house in the section." Now in the heart of Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood, the sturdy brick house was relatively isolated at its 1858 completion as the centerpiece of a five-hundred-acre farm. A pitched Civil War clash put the house in the middle of the 1864 Battle of Westport. But the Wornall House, which served as a field hospital for both Union and Confederate soldiers wounded in the battle, came through unscathed.
Just north of Kansas City International Airport, the charming town of Weston features a twenty-two-block historic district. Visitors can soak in the ambience of the pre-war era through numerous antebellum homes, including the Saint George Hotel and Hatchery House Bed & Breakfast, both dating to 1845.
For information on the Alexander Majors House at 8201 State Line Road, call 816-333-5556. For information on the John Wornall House at 6115 Wornall Road, call 816-444-1858 or visit www.wornallhouse.org. For information on Weston, call 888-635-7457.
Lexington has more pre-Civil War homes and buildings than any other community in Missouri, according to the town's Chamber of Commerce. More than one hundred twenty significant structures, all on the National Register of Historic Places, can be found within the city's four historic districts.
You can peek inside some of these houses on the annual Vintage Homes Tour, held the third weekend in June.
One of the most significant is the Oliver ANderson House, which the Lexington Weekly Express in 1853 called the "largest and best-arranged dwelling house west of St. Louis."
Anderson picked a sixty-seven-acre tract overlooking the Missouri RIver on which to construct his home. It was built in grand Greek Revival style with imposing cast-iron Corinthian columns fronting the house. Inside are large rooms, twenty feet square with fifteen-foot ceilings, and a fifteen-foot-wide central hallway. At the east end of the hallway, a massive walnut staircase rises through two landings to the third floor of the house.
When Civil War fighting engulfed Lexington in 1861, the structure took some serious hits. In just one day of fierce fighting, the house changed hands three times and suffered extensive damage inside and out. Scarring from rifle and cannon shot remains visible, especially on the east side of the house and in several interior rooms A cannonball punched through the attic and busted into the second-floor hallway below, leaving a hole in the ceiling that remains to this day.
In 1958, the house and portions of the nearby battlefield were donated to the state. The area now is operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as part of the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site.
The Graystone Bed & Breakfast is one of Lexington's oldest houses. Breakfast is served in the parlor of the original house, which was finished in 1836. Bedrooms with twelve-foot ceilings and period furniture are in an 1850 addition.
For information on Lexington, call 660-259-4711 or visit www.visitlexingtonmo.com. For information on the Oliver Anderson House at 1300 North John Shea Drive, call 660-259-4654 or visit www.mostateparks.com/lexington/index.html. For information on Graystone Bed & Breakfast at 324 South Twenty-fifth Street, call 660-259-7775 or visit www.graystonebandb.com.
Louisiana boasts a remarkable collection of antebellum homes. The Mississippi River town has several great homes on its bluffs, the first of which was the 1857 Edward G. McQuie Mansion. In 2003 the town created several residential historic districts and its applying for more. The Georgia Street Historic District alone has more than fifty historically significant buildings.
The town's passion for its storied history and architecture peaks the second weekend in October, when residents of the city's historic districts show off some of their most beloved properties. The Great Mansions Tour offers visitors a chance to see more than a dozen of Louisiana's finest Federal and early Victorian mansions.
For information on Louisiana, call 888-642-3800 or visit www.louisiana-mo.com.
The Hunter-Dawson home in the Bootheel's New Madrid is Missouri's closest cousin the the typical grand plantation homes of the South. A true mansion with fifteen rooms and nine fireplaces, this home illustrates the lifestyle enjoyed by William and Amanda Hunter, a wealthy Southeast Missouri family. In addition to operating a gristmill and several other businesses, William Hunter ran a dry-goods store in town called the Crystal Palace and a floating outlet that sold merchandise to folks in towns up and down the Mississippi River.
The couple designed the house themselves, incorporating Georgian, Greek Revival, and Italianate architectural features. But they would not enjoy it together; William Hunter died of yellow fever in April 1859. Constructions was finished in May 1860, and Amanda Hunter and the couple's seven children moved into the home that year.
Family lore holds that during the siege of New Madrid in spring 1862, the property was occupied by Union troops preparing to encircle the town and that the house was used as the headquarters of General John Pope after the Union occupation of the city. The Dawson portion of the name came about on Christmas Eve 1874, when the Hunter's youngest daughter, Ella, married William Dawson. Dawson was a prominent man in his own right, serving as legislator at the state and federal levels. The couple inherited the house upon Amanda's death in 1876, and family members occupied the house for the next eighty years.
In 1966, the City of New Madrid purchased the house and donated it for use as a State Historic Site. The home contains about eighty percent of Amanda Hunter's original furnishings.
For information on the Hunter-Dawson State Historic Site at 312 Dawson Road, call 573-748-5340 or visit www.mostateparks.com/hunterdawson/geninfo.htm