Category Archives: Campbell

CHM: Then and Now

Over the past few months, we’ve been posting some “Then and Now” images on Facebook and Twitter, showing how the Campbell House has evolved over its 70 years as a museum.  This House has gone through a few different color schemes, restorations, and more crazy wallpaper prints than we sometimes care to admit!  Click through the images below to see what we mean.

This time we thought we’d dive in a little deeper and look at how one of our favorite rooms, the Morning Room, has changed over a few different eras.

Bird-tastic stained glass window on the Morning Room's east wall.

Bird-tastic stained glass window on the Morning Room’s east wall.

The Morning Room got its name because it was mainly used (you guessed it!) in the morning.  Sunlight comes in through the beautiful, east-facing stained glass windows and gives the room a sort of glow until about midday.  The room served also served as a

less formal family room-type parlor, because the big, flashy, red and gold behemoth that you can see in the middle photo above was really just for entertaining (and impressing) guests.  CHM’s morning room served as a place for the Campbell family members to go in the morning: to write their letters, read their newspapers, slurp their coffee, etc. but it also was useful to servants because it kept the Campbells out of their hair for a while.  Generally nineteenth century servants weren’t permitted to  in the same room as the family members unless one of them was ill, so having a space where servants knew the Campbells would consistently spend a chunk of their morning allowed them free range of the upper floors to make beds, empty chamber pots (wahoo!) and get ready for the day without having to worry about a family member walking in on them and interrupting their work.

The Morning Room was originally chock-full of stuff ranging from marble busts to taxidermied birds, and most of it can still be found in exactly (or pretty close to) in today’s pictures.  Click through the images below and watch the Morning Room’s progress from the 1880s to the present – see if you can find which objects have moved, which ones are missing today, and which ones are sitting in the same exact spot 160 years later!

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our Fellow Campbell House(s)

1451989_10151796273789412_2084774420_n

Home Sweet Home, CHM in STL.

The Campbell House Museum in St. Louis, Missouri is, as you probably already know, a pretty incredible place.  Built in 1851 and the home of fur trader and entrepreneur Robert Campbell and his family from 1854 to 1938, the house contains a nearly complete collection of the Campbells’ original furnishings and has been painstakingly restored over the past decade to reach its current state as one of the best-restored 19th Century buildings in America.  But did you know we aren’t alone?  We share the name “Campbell House Museum” with two other institutions in North America, one older than CHM St. Louis and one newer.  Though our stories are quite a bit different from one another, they’re all pretty darn interesting.
Read on to find out more…


 

Campbell House Museum (1898)
Spokane, Washington

CH with chairs

CHM Spokane, ca. 1898.

We first look up to Spokane, Washington, the grounds of the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture (MAC), and the home of mining magnate Amasa B. Campbell, his wife Grace and daughter Helen.  Campbell made his fortune in mining, beginning with a risky investment of $25,000 in an Idaho gem mine.  That bet paid off and, after moving his mining operations from Idaho to Spokane in 1898, Campbell built a house to match his bank account.  Built in an English Tudor Revival style, the Campbell House Museum in Spokane describes itself as follows:

“The first floor interior, on two levels, provides a sense of drama. To the right of the dark wood-paneled entry hall is a light, gilded French reception room where Grace Campbell received her visitors. To the left, the library’s dark wooden beams and inglenook fireplace provide a cozy atmosphere for informal evenings at home as well

Amasa Campbell and daughter Helen.

Amasa Campbell and daughter Helen.

as formal events. Four steps lead to a large dining room with a fireplace surrounded by blue and white Dutch tiles. A deep veranda around the back of the house affords a view of the Spokane River below. Other features include a den, decorated in the popular Middle Eastern style, well-planned service areas, and four bedrooms upstairs.”

Following her mother’s death in 1924, Helen Campbell donated the house and its grounds to the East Washington Historical Society which used the building as a space for special exhibitions and community events.  After the construction of the MAC, Campbell House Spokane underwent a 2001 restoration that has brought it back to its original beauty.  For more information on the home of Amasa Campbell and the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture, click the image below or check them out on Facebook.

CHM Spokane

CHM Spokane in the present day. Click to visit their website!


Campbell House Museum (1822)

Toronto, Canada

CHM Toronto in the late 1800s, at that point serving as home to the "Capewell Horse Nail Co."

CHM Toronto in the late 1800s, at that point serving as home to the “Capewell Horse Nail Co.”

Now we’ll head even farther north, to our Canadian friends at the Campbell House Museum of Toronto, originally home to Upper Canada Chief Justice Sir William Campbell and his wife Hannah.  The stately home was built in 1822 and today stands as one of the few remaining structures of the Georgian Palladian style left standing in Canada.  William Campbell is remembered for his important role in presiding over the trial of rioters who destroyed William Lyon Mackenzie’s printing press, a significant early test for freedom of the press in Canada.  The story of the “Types Riot” is quite a read, click here to learn more about it.  The house served as the Campbell Family home until the death of Hannah Campbell in 1844, at which point the house and its contents were auctioned off (Sound familiar? The same thing happened here at CHM St. Louis in 1941 after the death of Hazlett Campbell).  The building then served as a private home, office space and eventually was converted to a factory.

CHM Toronto in the midst of its move in 1972.

CHM Toronto in the midst of its move in 1972.

This is where things get neat – facing demolition in 1972 at its original location, a group of community-minded and historically-interested lawyers got together and paid to MOVE THE WHOLE HOUSE just over 5,000 feet down the street to its current location in downtown Toronto.  Click here to read about that move and see some pretty nifty pictures.  It’s not every day a Georgian mansion goes cruising down Main Street.

Today the Campbell House Museum in Toronto sits safely in its new location, serving both as an early 19th century Toronto history museum as well as a community and event space “to discuss, to create, to perform, and to socialize, giving life to the words Freedom of Expression” and continuing the legacy of Sir William Campbell.  For more information on CHM Toronto, click the image below to visit their website or check them out on Facebook.

Campbell House Toronto. in the present day.  Click to visit their website!

Campbell House Toronto in the present day. Click to visit their website!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dodging the Tax Man

tax dodging headline 2“But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin

April 15, as we all know, is tax day.  The dreaded writing of checks, the rush to find stamps and hit the post office after work (for those of us who procrastinate) and the joy/disappointment that comes with receiving our tax refunds.  St. Louisans in the 1870s were none too fond of tax day either, as it turns out. Some sleuthing on the part of Campbell House’s senior researcher, Tom Gronski, turned up a couple of St. Louis Post-Dispatch articles from February 1879 showing not only that wealthy folks in St. Louis weren’t fond of paying their taxes, but that they actively hid money, often avoiding paying anything at all when tax season rolled around.

The investigative piece exposes a common practice among St. Louis’ upper echelon:

“One favorite way of evading the tax is to place their money in the hands of some real estate agent for loaning, and the money is turned over by notes to some confidential clerk by the agent, who signs the note and back it ‘without recourse.’ This clerk may not have a dollar of property and it is very easy to transfer notes of this kind, so that no on has any at the time the assessment returns are made.”

The articles go on to highlight some of the dodgy dealings of a few prominent St. Louisans, including J.B.C. Lucas, Charles Chouteau, Rudolph Bircher, and others.  Check out the gallery below as the author works his way through each person’s legally declared property (or suspicious lack thereof) when the assessor came calling.

Soooo, you might ask: “Where did Robert Campbell fall in all of this?”  An excellent question.  And, as far as we can tell, he was at least somewhat up front with the City of St. Louis about his wealth when he filed his 1878 state tax return (federal income taxes were not collected until 1913).  The Post-Dispatch reports a list of the wealthiest St. Louisans and what they declared in terms of real estate and personal bank account holdings.  Robert (highlighted in yellow) seems to be pretty up front about what he has in the bank, listing $319,000 in real estate holdings and just over $32,000 in his own personal bank account.

Listing

Some of his counterparts, however, have suspiciously little listed (highlighted in red).  One has to wonder how such high rollers managed to roll so high with $0 in the bank.  That’s not to say Robert comes out of all of this scot-free, though.  As up front as he seems to be in this report, he had to have been doing a bit of finagling of his own.  Just a few years earlier Robert had sold the site of the former Southern Hotel for hundreds of thousands of dollars and at the time of his death one year later in 1879, his estate was worth millions by today’s estimations.

So, the moral of this story is that some things never change and tax-dodging and exploiting loopholes are an age-old American art.  Have a happy April 15th!
uncle-sam-pay-your-taxes1

To view the full text of either of the articles cited in this post, click HERE and HERE.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Magical Mystery Tour, CHM style

Campbell House has its fair share of mysteries, ranging from odd architectural quirks of the building to questions about the intricacies of the Campbell family’s history.  But there are a couple recurring modern mysteries that rear their puzzling heads every few months here at the Museum.  Not that we’re complaining, in fact we look forward to them!  But that hasn’t stopped us from trying to get to the bottom of who’s behind them!

The Half-Dollar Donor

Every couple of months, we’ll go to open our big beautiful double front doors and find a silver surprise hanging out on the front steps.  Sometimes there’s just one, sometimes as many as three or four, but the gift is always the same: a Kennedy 50 cent piece.  The years on the coins range from 1971 all the way up to 1995 and, to date, this mystery person has left more than thirty of them!  A couple of weeks ago, two of the coins mysteriously appeared in the middle of the afternoon, between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m.  Thanks to some nifty features of our security system, we could look back at video of our front steps during the time period and we found… absolutely nothing.  So the mystery continues…

halfdollar

Part of our mysterious collection of Kennedy half-dollars… they’re too cool to deposit!

Birthday Card Bewilderment

We’re always a little extra excited to get the mail when a Campbell birthday is coming up and we watch our calendar pretty closely as a result.  We obviously aren’t alone in our birthday vigilance, because on the birthdays of Robert and Virginia Campbell and their sons Hugh, Hazlett, and James (there were TEN MORE children, but unfortunately none survived past their 8th birthdays) a mysterious birthday card arrives without fail, marked with a return address of  “Somewhere in Time”.  Just a couple of weeks ago we celebrated James’ (the baby of the family) 154th birthday and, like clockwork, we got a charming card in the mail.  What’s extra neat is that this mystery birthday card-sender takes care to get the cards in the mail so that they arrive right on the birthday itself- that’s dedication, folks.  Here are just a few of the cards and some of our particular favorites.

So there you have it.  Campbell House has oodles of mysteries, old and new.  Swing by and see us sometime, we’d be happy to give you the Magical Mystery Tour: CHM style.

Sorry, we couldn’t resist.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy Pi Day from Campbell House!

Let there be great rejoicing throughout the land!  Pi Day (3.14) has arrived, and in honor of this most esteemed of mathematically-centric holidays, we have a little something special to share with you.  One of the crown jewels of the collection here at CHM is Virginia Campbell’s handwritten cookbook, with hundreds of recipes ranging from the delicious (Almond Sponge Cake and Baked Macaroni and Cheese) to the, uh… other stuff (Pickled Oysters and Mushroom Catsup).  So we thought it would be neat to share Virginia’s recipe for mincemeat pie filling, something you don’t see too much of these days.  You’ll have to come up with the pie crust yourself, but we’ll get you most of the way there.

Here’s the original handwritten recipe…

Mince

“Mince Meat” recipe in Virginia Campbell’s hand

As you might notice, her recipe calls for THREE POUNDS of beef suet and 12 apples.  In the interest of time and so you don’t end up with enough mincemeat to feed a small army, we cut the batch down for you and put in some helpful 21st century cooking terminology and techniques.  Also, for those of you wondering what exactly “suet” consists of, click here.  (hint: beef and mutton fat, yum!)

What a perfectly perfect mincemeat pie SHOULD look like...

What a perfectly perfect mincemeat pie SHOULD look like…

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups suet, finely chopped.
6 apples, cored and finely chopped
2 cups currants
2 cups raisins
1/4 cup chopped citron
3 lemons, zested and juiced
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon cloves
1/2 tablespoon allspice
11 and 1/2 cups brandy

Preparation:

  1. Using a food processor place the suet, apples into the bowl.  Pulse to combine together.
  2. Remove the suet/apple mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. (For a finder texture mince return to food processor and pulse until the desired texture is reached.)
  3. Tightly cover and refrigerate mincemeat for at least a week before using until ready to use in pies.  Will store refrigerated for up to six months.  Makes about 6 cups of mincemeat.

Many thanks to food historian and author Suzanne Corbett for putting the recipe in 21st century terms, keep an eye out over the next year as we publish a new, expanded edition of Virginia’s cookbook!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,298 other followers