Tag Archives: St. Louis

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)


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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Ulysses S. Grant – A St. Louis Treasure

US Grant symposium

There are few people in St. Louis history as revered as Ulysses S. Grant.  The Civil War hero and Reconstruction-era President visited St. Louis often (many times as a guest at the Campbell House) and married his wife, Julia Dent, here in St. Louis – you can still experience the Dent Family home today at the U.S. Grant National Historic Site at White Haven.  This weekend and continuing into May, St. Louis will be playing host to the Ulysses S. Grant Symposium, with special exhibitions, lectures and discussion on the life and legacy of America’s 18th President.  In that spirit, we thought we’d feature a fun but relatively unknown nugget of local U.S. Grant history dredged up by Campbell House Senior Researcher Tom Gronski.

After Grant died in 1885, efforts were begun here in St. Louis to raise money for a large-scale memorial, one that would achieve nationwide attention and respect.  The Grant Monument Association raised funds and eventually chose a design from sculptor Robert Bringhurst (who also sculpted the Elijah Lovejoy monument in Alton, Illinois).  His design was described in an April 1887 excerpt from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“The design is for a 9-foot figure in bronze.  The figure, attired in full military uniforms, is standing at ease, resting on the right, the left foot slightly advanced. The left hand rests on the hilt of the sword; the right, holding a pair of field glasses, hangs easily at the side.  The head is thrown back, the eyes looking out over an imaginary battlefield.”

-St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 27, 1887

So they cast the enormous statue in bronze in 1888 and then placed it in the middle of 12th Street (today Tucker), halfway between Olive and Locust.  Yep, you read that correctly – smack dab in the middle of the street.  The City also built up pillars and an elaborate canopy that read “Let Us Have Peace”.

Grant Statue 1888

U.S. Grant statue in the middle of 12th Street (today Tucker) in 1888, with pillars and and an elaborate canopy. Not too shabby, eh?

Less than ten years later, they moved it.  As it turned out, having a giant memorial to President Grant in the middle of 12th Street wasn’t great for traffic flow and it was moved to the south side of the newly-constructed St. Louis City Hall facing Clark Street in 1898 (without its grand pillars and canopy). Public reception to this new location was

Grant Statue 2014

The statue of President Grant in its current home at the corner of Market and Tucker, without its grand pillars and canopy.

overwhelmingly negative and people expressed concern that such a grand monument had essentially been “buried in the back yard” of City Hall. In 1921, the 9 foot statue was moved once again to its current location at the southwest corner of Market and Tucker.

Most St. Louisans, including some of us here in the CHM office, had no idea of the place of prominence this tribute to the 18th President once occupied, and many probnably have never even noticed the statue in its current location. Have you?

Join us this weekend, continuing into May, for the U.S. Grant Symposium.  This Saturday features a Civil War traveling exhibit at St. Louis Soldiers Memorial and Military Museum, followed by a talk by renowned author and U.S. Grant expert Ronald C. White, Jr.  (there’s also a reception at Campbell House following the talk, come meet Dr. White and have a glass of wine on us!)

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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 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…


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


  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!

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“Glorious Gowns” on Display

ladue2If you haven’t had a chance to stop by Campbell House in the past couple of months, you’re in for a treat on your next visit. Now through the end of December 2013, we’re holding a special exhibition of ‘Glorious Gowns’ from the Campbell House collection.  A particularly exciting aspect of this display can be found in our third floor exhibition rooms, where we’re getting the chance to show off some pieces in our collection that normally don’t get to see the light of day—a dozen magnificent wedding dresses. (Look for a future blog post here about Virginia Campbell’s gowns also currently on display.)

Our friends over at the Ladue News stopped by last week to snap some photos and do a feature on these incredible works of art, as well as get the story out about Campbell House’s fashionable past and its once-extensive costume collection.  Here’s a taste of what they had to say…

ladue3“At the Campbell House Museum, a collection of historic wedding gowns showcasing the meticulous ornamentation and painstaking detail found in attire from decades past currently is on exhibit.

On display are 11 historical gowns ranging approximately from 1871 to 1960. A vintage–inspired modern dress also is on display, completing the transitional journey of bridal fashion.

The awe-evoking craftsmanship is showcased in details such as heavy smocking, beading and petite pleating. A variety of older silhouettes are on display, ranging from high to scoop necklines, hourglass-shaping puffed shoulders to hip-enhancing bustles. A selection of dresses even have accessories; items like broaches, shoes, veils and occasionally photographs complement the exhibit.

ladue7Procrastinators interested in seeing the collection should know that Hahn estimates the next display will be in “at least a dozen years, if not longer—especially with Mrs. Campbell’s gowns. If not a whole generation, then the better part of one.” The rationale behind the wait? “Part of it is to preserve them, and also it is a monumental effort to undertake the installation.”

At the start of 2014, the lavish gowns will begin making their way back into storage. When not on display, the wedding dresses are kept in lined, specialty boxes, partially stuffed with acid-free tissue paper to avoid any sharp creases or folds. “The care is prolonging its eventual demise,” Hahn says. “Fabric can last a long time, but no fabric will last forever.” When the dresses are—delicately—touched, they are done so while wearing white cotton gloves to keep any dirt or oil on hands off the dresses. Hahn notes a simple touch might not do anything now, but could leave oil-caused discoloration visible within the next decade.

Preserving the gowns, even if they cannot last forever, is preserving a small part of the city. “I think one of the very interesting things about these gowns is that they are all connected to St. Louis,” Hahn says of the donated pieces. “They speak a lot to the wedding traditions in our own community. In a larger sense, I think it informs people how these wedding traditions have changed and evolved over time.”

Click here for the complete article with more images

Thank you to the Ladue News for helping us tell the story of these unique fashions.


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