Tag Archives: Tim Rohan

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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Monday Update » 6.11.12

Welcome back to Monday, everyone! We hope you’ve been enjoying your summer so far. As usual, we’ve been busy here and we have some fun things to report to you:

Facelift for Campbell House
Actually, more like a coat of paint. 2012 marks the 10-year anniversary of the completion of the exterior renovation of the house, and we’re due for another paint job. Fortunately, we’ve secured a generous grant from the Robert J. Trulaske, Jr. Family Foundation for the funds to have the brick, windows and cornices repainted. Since the house is so big and tall, this is going to be an exciting process because the painters will have to use a series of lifts to reach the highest points of the house. Work will likely begin this summer after we complete spot tuckpointing, and we’ll be sure to share pictures as the work progresses. Three cheers for the Robert J. Trulaske, Jr. Family Foundation for helping us keep the Campbells’ home in tip-top shape!

We ♥ Our Interns
Campbell House has a full complement of six interns this summer. Though most of them are from St. Louis, they represent universities from all over the country, (Vassar, Wartburg College and Washington University) and a variety of disciplines including art history, chemistry (really) and American culture studies. They’ll get the full museum experience this summer by giving tours, conducting research, inventorying the Campbell collection as well as all of the other day-to-day stuff that needs to get done (i.e. watering the garden, booking tours, working on membership renewals, etc). Check back in with us as we post intern profiles to the blog. These dynamic — and wickedly smart — students breathe new life into this house, and we’re fortunate to have their fresh perspective. While they’re learning the museum biz, we get new insight and ideas for making this old house current and relevant to a young demographic. Are you interested in joining us for an internship, too? Email Executive Director Andy Hahn at andy [at] campbellhousemuseum.org.

Interior of Fort Laramie by Alfred Jacob Miller
Watercolor, 1858-1860

Retracing Robert’s Route
This week, Intrepid Researcher Tom™  and our illustrious Executive Director Andy are taking a trip out to the wild west to visit Robert’s old stomping grounds. Beginning at Fort Laramie, the pair will meet Robert’s great-nephew Alan (who is coming all the way from Northern Ireland) to see the annual Rendezvous that reenacts the yearly event where trappers would meet with merchants to trade furs for goods. Fort Laramie is significant because Robert founded Fort William, which was Fort Laramie’s precursor. This year’s event will commemorate artist Alfred Jacob Miller’s 1837 trip to the rendezvous. Miller produced some of the most famous images of the Oregon Trail and Fort Laramie, including the one on the right. After the rendezvous, the trio will visit Museum of the Mountain Man, Pierre’s Hole (the site of the famous battle in which Robert and pal Bill Sublette played a major role), and finally — if they have time — a trip to Fort Bridger. We’ll be sure to post pictures after the travelers return.

A picture from the process: the entire keyboard was removed from the body of the piano.

Music to Our Ears
In what proved to be a five-month project, the Campbells’ piano is DONE! JoAnn Kaplan of Kapstan Piano Services worked tirelessly to clean, fix and/or custom-fabricate new parts, and finally tune the old Schomacker. We didn’t do all that work for nothing — we’ll start hosting parlor concerts later this year. Check back for details.

Tours on Tap
Did you miss our wildly successful Lucas Place/Tap Room walking tour last fall? Have no fear — we’ll offer it again and then some. This week we’re meeting with our friends at Landmarks Association of St. Louis to put together some fun and informative tours. As soon as we work out the details we ‘ll get a schedule of events posted. Do you have an idea for a building, neighborhood or special tour of Campbell House? Let us know! Send your bright idea to shelley.satke [at] gmail.com and we’ll see what we can do.

Detail of the reupholstered piano bench. That’s silk velvet and yes, it feels as good as it looks.

Facelift 2.0: Bidet and Piano Stool
The house is getting repainted, and two pieces of furniture have been reupholstered, too. The fabric on Virginia’s bidet cover had deteriorated to nothing more than threads, and the piano stool wasn’t in much better shape. Board member and interior designer Tim Rohan generously donated new fabric and had the tops of both pieces of furniture reupholstered over the existing fabrics so we would not lose the original material (what was left of it, anyway).

New Geocache
Are you into urban treasure hunting? We have a new geocache in our garden….dig up your GPS or download a geocache app to find it, and add your name to the list!

Board President Fritz Clifford with St. Louis Ballet dancers.

We’re the Daaaahncers
Last week we welcomed a crew of St. Louis Ballet dancers who performed at our Magical Spring Thing in April. They got the VIP tour with Andy and Board President Fritz leading the way.  Do you have a special group that would like to have a special behind-the-scenes experience at Campbell House? Contact Andy (andy [at] campbellhousemuseum.org) or Shelley (shelley.satke [at] gmail.com) and we are more than happy to accommodate you!

Bye, Bob
Bob’s going away….for now. The beloved garden gnome that was left on our front steps as a prank will be vacationing back at the DeMenil Mansion until we launch a secret expedition to bring him home.  <super sadface>

….and that’s all the news that’s fit to print for now. Have a spectacular week!

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The goblets have landed! (Well, one anyway…)

Tim brought the first of twelve Campbell goblets to us this afternoon, and we’re happy to report they are even more gorgeous than we imagined:

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