Historic Houses and Cemeteries of St. Louis Driving Tour
This driving tour offers a way to explore some of the St. Louis area historic family homes and cemeteries.
The resting place of underground railroad pioneer Moses Dickson. After travelling the south and settling in the St. Louis area, he organized he Knights of Liberty who played a vital role in the Underground Railroad in St. Louis, MO. He was also an ordained minister.
The Thomas Sappington House is one of the oldest brick structures in St. Louis County. Built in 1808 by enslaved people, it is named after its namesake, Thomas Sappington (1783-1843), whose family was one of the first to settle in the county. The house is a well-preserved and rare example of Federal-style architecture in the state. Given its association with Sappington and architecture, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The house is part of a complex that features the research Library of Americana and Decorative Arts, and The Barn restaurant. The site is owned and maintained by the City of Crestwood, and the Sappington House Foundation, conservators for 55 years, operate the facility, with the exception of the restaurant.
Sappington Family Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Missouri. This cemetery was originally a part of the vast plantation of John Sappington, father of Thomas Sappington. Within this cemetery rest the remains of pioneer settlers, servicemen, and the Sappington family. Sadly, some of the headstones have been lost to time, but many remain.
Since 1989, this historic plantation home known as White Haven has been managed by the National Park Service which offers exhibits and interpretive tours of the property. The ten-acre historic site includes the birth home of Julia Dent Grant as well as the home where she lived with her husband, Ulysses S. Grant. The property was owned by Colonel Frederick Dent who gifted a small portion of land to the Grants after their marriage. In recent years, interpretive efforts have focussed on the people who were enslaved by the Dent family, in addition to the estate and acreage that became the property of the future president upon his marriage. The couple moved to White Haven in 1854 and lived here until 1859. The outbreak of the Civil War led to Grant's appointment as a commander in the West, and his violent but successful military campaigns against Confederate forces led to his promotion to commanding general of Union forces at the end of 1863. Grant won election to the Presidency of the United States in 1868 and was reelected in 1872.
The Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion, built in 1848 in the historic Benton Park neighborhood and one of the few remaining examples of Greek Revival architecture in St. Louis, provides an in-depth glimpse into the lives of two French families. The construction of the house spans two building programs undertaken by families of very different styles of living, yet each reflecting significant aspects of St. Louis' French cultural heritage. The house today serves as a house museum. Although many other houses were built throughout the city in the grand antebellum manner, the DeMenil House is the only remaining Greek Revival house of such monumental proportions in the City of St. Louis.
The Eugene Field House in St. Louis was childhood residence of Eugene Field, children’s author and son of Roswell Field, the attorney who formulated the legal strategy that placed slave Dred Scott's lawsuit for freedom before the Supreme Court. The house is a museum and memorial - an early Victorian jewel, reflecting the era in which Roswell, Frances and Eugene Field lived within its walls. The house features special exhibits, workshops, and conferences on civil rights, law and social justice, and a large display of toys from Eugene boyhood. Eugene Field came to be known as the “Children’s Poet” for his stories and poems which include “Little Boy Blue” and “Wynken, Blynken and Nod.” The house was saved from demolition in 1934 due to its significance as the early boyhood home of Eugene Field, the “Children’s Poet” and Roswell Field’s son.
Since opening in 1943, the Campbell House Museum has served the greater St. Louis area as one of the nation’s premier historic property museums. The house served as a family home of Robert Campbell from 1851 to 1938. The Museum preserves not only the Campbell’s house, the family home of Robert Campbell—a prominent figure in the history of St. Louis and of the American West— but also the family’s collection of original furniture, fixtures, paintings, letters, objects , thousands of pages of family documents, and unique album of 60 interior photographs taken in the mid-1880s. In 2000, the Museum began a meticulous restoration project that returned the building to its opulent 1880s appearance, when the house was one of the centers of St. Louis society. The museum is considered to be one of the best preserved mid-Victorian house museums in the United States.
Bellefontaine Cemetery was established in 1850, becoming the first designed large-scale rural cemetery west of the Mississippi. The parcel reached its largest size, 336 acres, in 1865, the year the American Civil War ended (it stands at 314 acres today). Its design combines elements of the rural cemetery concept, modeled on Boston's 1831 Mount Auburn Cemetery (which was itself derived from Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris) and the landscape-lawn movement, pioneered by Adolph Strauch in Cincinnati's Spring Grove Cemetery in the 1840s. Designed and originally supervised by Almerin Hotchkiss, the designer of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, the landscape features rolling hills, trees, and man-made lakes, around which many imposing funerary monuments and mausoleums are arranged. Over 87,000 people are interred here, many of them in unmarked gravesites. The cemetery was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in August 2014. The cemetery is also an accredited arboretum, the only one in St. Louis.