St. Louis

Historic Homes of St. Louis: A Virtual Tour

St. Louis is a city full of vibrant history and stories. Learn about the homes of some of the most influential families that helped shape the city we know today.

As an avid fan of all things old houses, I was excited to conduct a type of “Historical Homes of St. Louis Tour” for my next article with the Griffin Roar. Well-preserved houses from the past have always been a fascination of mine because they give off a strange and indescribable sense of nostalgia. Although I personally have never lived in a house as grand or classical as the ones I have explored, every time I visit such a place, I feel as if I have been transported to a different era.

I was eager to finally apply this interest of mine to the St. Louis area. However, in the current circumstances, non-essential businesses have been closed and we are all under a “stay-at-home” order. Therefore, I decided the next best plan of action would be to “visit” these houses virtually, do some digital research, and present them to you via drawings, stories, and links. I hope you enjoy!

Stop #1: Chatillon DeMenil Mansion

The Chatillon DeMenil Mansion is a house museum located in Benton Park, St. Louis, just west of the Soulard neighborhood. The mansion has been described as “a magnificent example of the Late Greek Revival style in St. Louis,” which is characterized by classical architectural elements, such as columns or pilasters.  

Drawing by Mara Cressey

The mansion, which was built in 1849, is composed of two parts. The first part, a farmhouse, served as inspiration for a part of the book “The Oregon Trail.” The second part, the Greek Revival mansion, was completed in 1863. Under normal circumstances, visitors have the option to take guided tours at the mansion and hear stories related to St. Louis’s French roots, the 1904 World’s Fair, and Cherokee Cave

Stop #2: Lemp Mansion and Brewery

The Lemp Mansion resides just north of the Chatillon-Demenil Mansion on the same street, and, at one time, it was the largest brewery in St. Louis. Using the natural cave system under St. Louis to his advantage, founder John Adam Lemp created one of the most successful businesses in St. Louis history. 

Drawing by Mara Cressey

Typically, when the house is open for normal business, guests have the option to dine in at the Lemp Mansion Restaurant, book private events, or even stay the night. Those who aren’t faint of heart could choose to brave an iconic Lemp ghost tour but should know that CNNTravel selected the mansion as one of the “10 Spookiest Buildings in the World.” 

Stop #3: Campbell House Museum

Located just north of the Lemp and Chatillon-Demenil Mansions in Downtown St. Louis, the Campbell House Museum serves as an example of an important transitional period in architectural styles. The three-story townhouse features design aspects that fall under both Gothic architecture and the Greek Revival style. 

Mara Cressey

Once the house museum reopens for business, guests will have the opportunity to visit during scheduled hours or by appointment. While the house was originally constructed in 1851, many alterations have been made since then, including the additions of a garden, servant rooms, and an extra floor. Key points surrounding the house and those who lived there include the St. Louis Fur trade, the elegant lifestyles of the Campbell family, and the rich history of Victorian America.

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