Tag Archives: Yale University

Campbell House First Opens 70 Years Ago!

Seventy years ago today the opening of the Campbell House Museum was reported with lavish full-color (it was 1943) photo story in the Post-Dispatch. Here it is:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sunday, February 28, 1943


“A picture of life as it was lived in St. Louis a century ago is afforded visitors to the Campbell House, situated at 1508 Locust street, which through the efforts of the Campbell House Foundation, has been restored to its original elegance and opened to the public. The house was built in 1851 by Robert Campbell, who made  a fortune as a fur trader, and in it were entertained many visiting celebrities of the day, including General Grant.


After the death of the last of the three Campbell sons, none of whom  married, the house was inherited by Yale University. The Campbell House Foundation, a group of interested citizens who wanted to preserve the house as a landmark, started raising funds for the purpose. Stix, Baer and Fuller Company purchased the house for the Foundation, and funds contributed were used to restore it. The original furnishings and authentic decorations have served completely to restore both the appearance and the character of the house.”


Today of course 70 years of research has revealed that Robert Campbell did not build the house (he and his family moved in three years later) and the “original elegance” referred to in the article was really just a 2oth century conception of a mid-19th century interior (just as an example, all that bright white woodwork would have never worked in a coal soot filled house). Click the images to read the original captions and enjoy a look back at the first revelation of a real St. Louis treasure.

Make 2013 your date to visit Campbell House, be it for the first or the tenth time, there is always something new and interesting to learn from our superlative docents and students. Find our hours and more info here http://www.campbellhousemuseum.org/



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Campbell Kids » Campbell House Goes to the Dogs

James’ young collies in Cambridge, MA. The solid brown one on the right is named Guy.

This Friday is Bring Your Dog to Work Day, and although we don’t want our staff’s pooches traipsing through the rose garden, tracking mud through the house and drooling on guests that come to the door, dogs have a long history at Campbell House.

The Campbells loved their dogs, particularly the youngest adult son James. He immortalized them not only in his Jules Lefebvre (pronounced “luh-FEV-ruh”) portrait that hangs in the Library, but he also had pictures taken of them. Lots of pictures. After graduating from Yale University, James attended Harvard from 1886 through 1888 for law school. The picture to the right captured his beloved pair of collies in the driveway of his Cambridge home. (Awwww…)

After he graduated from Harvard, James and his brothers Hugh and Hazlett took an extended trip to Europe. Of course, the pups went along for the ride:

Pups on the balcony in Geneva…..

…standing guard at the doorway to the Hotel Conradi in Italy, and…

…sitting nicely for the camera in an unknown European location.

The Campbells weren’t the only folks in history who were wild about their pooches. A black Newfoundland accompanied Lewis and Clark on their trek west. Captain Meriwether Lewis bought Seaman the pup for $20 in Pittsburgh before the expedition in 1803 while he was waiting for the boats to be completed.

The 1400-pound sculpture of Seaman that sits at Seaman’s Overlook in Washburn, North Dakota. (Seaman is also featured in a statue of Lewis & Clark in St. Louis next to the Eads Bridge!)

Robert’s friend Ulysses S. Grant also owned a Newfoundland named Faithful, and she lived in the White House while Grant was president! (Since the Grant and Campbell families were close friends, the Campbells surely spent some time with Faithful.)

President John F. Kennedy owned several dogs (Charlie, Pushinka, Clipper, Shannon, Wolf, White Tips, Blackie and Streaker), and he was the first president to request that his four-legged friends be allowed to greet him on the lawn when he arrived at the White House in the presidential helicopter.

Do you have a special furry canine friend at home? Grab your pencil, paper, markers and paint and make your very own portrait! After you’re done and show your family, email a picture of it to shelley [at] campbellhousemuseum [dot] org, and we’ll post the submissions on our blog! And you never know….we may decide to bring Harvey and Violet to work next year.

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Campbell goblets are on their way home!

One of twelve Campbell goblets that are coming home.

First day back in the office after a long weekend, and we have an email from a board member announcing he’s secured the donation of some Campbell possessions from the Selkirk auction back in February 1941.

What was the Selkirk auction? After Hazlett — the last surviving Campbell — died in 1938, the Campbell estate went through a long probate case. It was one of the largest in Missouri history, and it took ten years to wrap up. As part of the settlement — and why we have many of the possessions we do — all the Campbell furnishings went up for auction at a 1941 sale by Ben J. Selkirk and Sons (now Ivey-Selkirk Auctioneers). Stix, Baer & Fuller, meanwhile, purchased the house from Yale University (who had inherited it), and they in turn donated it back to the newly formed Campbell House Foundation.

Since the Campbells’ furnishings were auctioned at a public sale and the foundation only had a budget of $6,500 to buy back as much as possible, quite a few items ended up with other families. Fortunately, many generous folks have given us back items over the years. Today was no exception.

Board member Tim Rohan learned a local family had this set of twelve punch goblets (pictured above), and they agreed to generously donate them back to us . Here’s the original auction catalog description:

[969] American Sterling Silver Punch Goblets, Mermod & Jaccard Co

Hemispherical body with double-scroll border, baluster and ring stem; rising circular foot with beading, height 4-1/4 inches.

They fetched a whopping $2.25 each at the 1941 Selkirk auction.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch clipping of the Selkirk auction. These cups are on the bottom shelf of the case in the top picture. Also note that "Women Almost Swoon."

To the left is an image of a page from the Sunday, February 23, 1941 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and these cups can be seen in the top picture on the bottom shelf of the case.

Want to see the goblets (and all of our other cool stuff)? They’re not here just yet, but give us a call at 314/421-0325. The house is open by appointment only in January and February, but we are here all week and we’re always happy to welcome guests.

With this donation, ongoing mysteries and all the other exciting programs and events we have on tap, 2012 has kicked off swimmingly. From the Campbell family to yours, we hope that you’re having a happy and productive new year.

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