The city of St. Louis has a fascinating history that dates back to 1764 when it was founded as a French settlement and named for the French king, Louis IX. Soon after, control was transferred to the Spanish, and eventually, it was returned to the French until 1803, when it was purchased by the United States.
As legend has it, the day of the Louisiana Purchase, the city flew under three flags – French, Spanish, and American, so it’s no stretch to imagine that the range of historical architectural styles is as eclectic and fascinating as the history itself.
Historic Homes In St. Louis That You Can Visit
If you are an architecture aficionado of any kind, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of historic homes that are open to the public for tours and exploration. Many operate as museums, so you will be asked to pay a small fee for a viewing privilege – well worth it for the rich history you’ll find here.
The Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion
This Greek Revival home was initially built as a farmhouse in 1849. In 1856, it was sold to one Nicholas N. DeMenil, a doctor of French descent, who then turned the farmhouse into a mansion, an addition completed in 1863.
It was saved from demolition when the construction of interstate 55 loomed in the 1960s. The Landmarks Association purchased the property from the highways commission, and restoration began right away. Many of the features and furniture are original to the property, and you can also tour the natural cave system beneath the house.
Campbell House Museum
Built in 1851, the Campbell’s house was the first to be built on Lucas Place and by 1938, it was the last building standing from the original builds. Designed by Thomas Waryng Walsh, it is a three-story townhouse “of no particular architectural style,” though its features are varyingly Gothic and Greek Revival, and considered to be transitional in terms of its design.
Restoration has progressed with the aid of a series of detailed photographs taken in the 1880s. Preserved down to the finest details – wallpaper, furniture placement, woodwork, carpeting, and all – walking into the museum is like stepping into a place out of time.
Samuel Cupples House
It was originally built as a residence for Samuel Cupples, a businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who made his fortune on wooden utensils. Saint Louis University purchased the house in 1946 for $50,000 and used it as office space until the 1970s.
Today, much of the decorative detail has been restored, and the house stands today as a museum and fine art gallery.
Scott Joplin House
A must on any music lover’s tour of St. Louis, the Scott Joplin house on Delmar Boulevard is furnished in the way it would have been in 1902 when Joplin and his wife, Belle, lived there. Described as a “typical tenant rowhouse,” it is where he lived when he wrote his best-known music, including “The Entertainer.” Now a national historic site, the home has been transformed into a tribute to Joplin’s life and musical legacy.
Thomas Sappington House Museum
Built in 1808, the Sappington House is a perfect example of the Federal architectural style. Considered the oldest brick house in St. Louis County, it is furnished with pieces that date as far back as 1780 and is now owned and operated by the Crestwood Park system.
The house features an extensive Library of Americana, and several docents are on hand to bring the period to life. Tours are available, and you can make a day of it, visit the restaurant, walk the grounds, and take something home from the gift shop.
Ulysses S. Grant Historic Site
The Italianate home, dubbed “White Haven” (though ironically, it is green), was originally part of an 850-acre plantation. It was intended for Ulysses S. Grant and his wife to live out their retirement years. There are five structures on the property. The stables have been transformed into a museum that commemorates Grant’s life and the history of slavery associated with the site.
Guided tours of the house are necessary, and you should call in advance to reserve as groups are limited in size.
St. Louis is a veritable rabbit-hole of architectural wonders. From our public buildings to historic residences and iconic homes that are still lived-in today, there is always something to discover. Reach out today to learn more about how we honor and preserve our local architectural history.