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)
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
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.
Campbell House Museum (1822)
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.
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.