Tag Archives: St. Louis

Would Robert have been a Royals fan?


We couldn’t resist. #madphotoshopskills

Even though St. Louis fell short of the World Series this year, the fact that our friends in Kansas City are doing so well brings an interesting question to light… would Robert Campbell have been (gasp!) a Royals fan?

Even though Robert lived the majority of his adult life in the city of St. Louis, he has significant ties to the KC area. Mr. Campbell began investing in real estate shortly after he retired from the fur trade in the late 1830s. Most of his property was scattered throughout the St. Louis area, ranging from his family’s Lucas Place home at what is today 1508 Locust Street downtown all the way out to a plot of land that would eventually become Creve Coeur Park. But a lesser-known fact about our buddy Rob is that he also played a crucially important role in establishing what is today the bustling metropolis of Kansas City, Missouri.

Robert actually owned 1/7 of Kansas City’s original town site, buying the land as early as 1841 and making him one of the city’s founding landlords. He then went on to sell the land to his nephew John Campbell, who would build the city’s first three-story brick warehouse, serve as an alderman and found the KC Fire Department. Without Robert Campbell, Kansas City would look very different today.

Robert, of course, died long before the Royals were running the bases, but it’s fun to think: would Robert Campbell have been a Royals fan? Quite possibly. But probably only if the Cardinals were out of contention.

kansas city

Kansas City has grown a bit since Robert’s purchase of part of the original town site in the 1840s.

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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.

psychic party graphic

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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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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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.


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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