Wyeth Tootle Mansion
St. Joseph is known for an extensive collection of beautiful mansions built around the turn of the century, and the Wyeth Tootle Mansion at the corner of Eleventh and Charles Streets is a prime example. With three floors, a tower and more than 40 rooms, it stands today as one of the best examples of St. Joseph’s late 19th-century wealth and opulence, featuring stunning woodwork, hand-painted ceilings and imported stained glass.
Backstory and Context
Originally home to the Wyeth's and then the Tootles, the Wyeth-Tootle Mansion has been operated by the St. Joseph Museums, Inc. since 1948.The mansions commanding height, its impressive tower and remarkable view of the Missouri River region and bluffs were inspired by the original owners’ trips to castles along the Rhine River in Germany. William and Eliza Wyeth commissioned architect E.J. Eckel to help them realize their grand vision. In fact, Eckel’s architectural vision and talent left a lasting mark on the St. Joseph community, as his firm designed 75% of St. Joseph’s outstanding historical buildings.
The widowed Mrs. Kate M. Tootle purchased the home in the spring of 1887 for $100,000 cash. Katherine's home was always the site of high society. Though she had taken over the businesses that Milton Sr. had started, she also kept up their social standing by throwing balls, costume parties, garden parties, and welcoming guests into the home. She raised her children Frances "Fannie" Sublett, Milton Jr., and John J. in the home. Milton Jr. and his wife Lillian raised their three sons in the home.
In addition to housing historical and cultural exhibits, the Wyeth-Tootle Mansion hosts community events throughout the summer and fall, including an annual Easter Egg Hunt, Motors to Marigolds Classic Car Show, Mah Jongg, and Holiday Teas. The venue also serves as a wedding, holiday party, and business meeting space. Visitors often experience a “wow” moment at the mansion’s incredible woodwork, ornate patterned floors, and hand-painted ceilings which include images of cherubs and heavenly clouds.
The second floor of the Mansion currently hosts exhibits on Historic Preservation and Architecture. The award-winning “Intersections: Of Time and Buildings,” examines the junctures of history, art, architecture and humanities, along with St. Joseph’s past, present and future. “Edifice: The Architecture of E.J. Eckel” commemorates Eckel’s talent and contribution to St. Joseph’s architectural landscape.
On the third floor, visitors can learn about the history and science of flooding in the St. Joseph area through, "Confluence: The Great Flood of 1993." This exhibit addresses flooding's physical, economic, and social impact on the surrounding area. The views from the third floor children’s area are some of the most sweeping and expansive in the city.
The site boasts some of the most ornately manicured gardens in the City as well as a community vegetable garden. In the spring, summer, and fall it is a lovely picnic area where guests can enjoy the activity of hosts of butterflies attracted to the pollinator garden.