Tag Archives: St. Louis

There’s More to the Story: Halloween at CHM

The Campbell monument at Bellefontaine Cemetery here in St. Louis. All 15 members of the immediate Campbell family are buried here (legend has it that two of their dogs are buried with them as well).

The Campbell monument at Bellefontaine Cemetery here in STL. All 15 members of the immediate Campbell family are buried here (legend has it that two of their dogs are buried with them too).

October is an interesting time of year for us here at CHM.

On one hand, it’s a blast. We get to put up black bunting around the House, carve pumpkins, we’ve been on TV and in print a few times, and we even get to dress up for our Halloween Night twilight tours. On the other hand, a certain seriousness accompanies the season, especially when it comes to talking about some of the darker chapters of the Campbell family’s time in St. Louis. Though the Campbells certainly lived pretty well and had some beautiful things, this time of year brings into sharp focus the fact that having wealth didn’t necessarily make you immune to  tragedy. Ten of Robert and Virginia’s 13 children died before their eighth birthdays, eight boys and two girls. To put this in perspective,the mortality rate for white children in St. Louis in the 1850s was around 21%. The Campbells were pushing 76%.

Of the three sons to survive into adulthood, one died tragically at the age of 30 (James) and the other two lived increasingly reclusive and peculiar lives (Hugh and Hazlett). Hazlett suffered from debilitating mental illness as he grew older and by the time both sons died in the 1930s, neither had married or had children of their own – the Campbell family line ended with no heirs, despite Robert and Virginia’s best efforts.

These are all sad stories, no doubt. But they’re stories that need telling. There was more to the Campbells’ lives than fancy parties and beautiful furnishings (though there certainly were and still are a bunch of those things in this house). Join us the rest of this month here on the blog and then in person on Halloween night as we unpack the darker chapters of death, disease and despair that were a big part of 19th century life at the Campbell House.

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Psychic Party at the Campbell House! Click to enlarge.

Upcoming October Events:

Halloween Twilight Tours
Friday, October 31 at 6:30 sold out!, 7:00 and 7:30 p.m.
Advance reservations required, click here to buy tickets online.

Campbell House Psychic Party
Hosted by Mr. Tim Rohan, Vice President of the CHM Board of Directors
Yep, this is EXACTLY as cool as it sounds. Join us for a gourmet selection of wine, beer, an open bar and gourmet hors-doeurves. One of three psychics will provide you with your own private reading. Click here for more information on purchasing tickets.

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MEET THE INTERNS » GABBY

Last week you met Dylan, this week we’re happy to introduce Gabby! She’s been a blast to have around the office since she started in September and we’re happy to have her on board!

Intern Gabby! Click to learn more about volunteering and internships with CHM.

Intern Gabby! Click to learn more about volunteering and internships with CHM.

What are you studying and where?  I am studying to be a history major at UMSL

Why Campbell House?  CHM was chosen for me by the history department and I’m so glad! I’ve loved working at CHM and I’ve learned so much.

What are you working on at CHM?  I am working on the nomination for the Campbell House to become a National Historic Landmark. (this is a HUGE project that’s going to take 2-5 years to complete – click here to check it out. We’re so glad Gabby is getting it off the ground for us!)

When you aren’t having a blast at Campbell House, what are you up doing?  I’m either working at Sole and Blues in the Loop or cooking dinner with my family. (Gabby definitely is the most stylish person in the office AND brings the tastiest looking lunches. Hands down.)

What is your favorite thing about CHM so far?  I’ve loved stepping back in time and learning more about St. Louis history.

iPhone or Android?  iPhone! I love Apple products, MacBook all the way!

Favorite color?  purple.

Favorite band/singer?  Mumford and Sons.

Andy Warhol said that everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame. What happened in your 15 minutes?  I don’t think I’ve had my 15 minutes yet. I believe I have much greater things to come! (how’s that for an answer?!)

If you owned a CB radio, what would your handle be?  “Madagabgar” (10-4, madagabgar!)

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MEET THE INTERNS » DYLAN

Well, really he’s not an intern. In fact, he’s a graduate research assistant from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. (But that wouldn’t fit in the title.) Dylan joined us at the beginning of this school year and will be with us for the next two years in conjunction with his work in the Museum Studies graduate program at UMSL – we couldn’t be more pleased to have him here!

What  are you studying and where?  (well, we already covered this. He’s in the UMSL Museum Studies program)

Why Campbell House Museum? I was assigned here by my program, presumably because I worked for two years at Roseland Cottage: an 1846 house museum back home in Connecticut.

dylan

Graduate Research Assistant Dylan! Click his photo to learn more about volunteering and internship opportunities at the Campbell House Museum.

What are you working on at CHM?  Presently, I’m updating the docent guide manual and sourcing material.

When you aren’t having a blast at Campbell House, what are you up to?  Studying.

What is your favorite thing about CHM thus far?  Its archives (well thanks! We think they’re pretty swell too… check them out online here.)

iPhone or Android?  Dumb phones, thankyouverymuch.

Favorite color?  orange.

Favorite band/singer  song?  Auld Lang Syne

Andy Warhol said that everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame. What happened in your 15 minutes?  The second hand on the clock ticked 900 times. (well played, Dylan. Well played indeed…)

If you were given a yacht tomorrow (assuming you don’t already have one) what would you name it?  “Nostalgia for Infinity”

So there you have it! The next time you’re at Campbell House Museum (hopefully for our upcoming Halloween Twilight Tours) say hello, chat about his awesome program at UMSL, and help us welcome him to the Campbell family!

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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!

 

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Our Fellow Campbell House(s)

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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!

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