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Bricks & Martyrs

Poplar Bluff Homes of the 19th Century

Poplar Bluff was built on the site of a great forest of hardwood trees, gum and cypress. Timber was its first industry. It naturally follows that most of the buildings in the town were built of wood. Only two brick houses will be found in this listing, two stuccos and one stone. The first brick house in Poplar Bluff was built in 1860 by Dr. George T. Bartlett on Oak Street at Broadway. It was demolished in the mid 1900s.

Many of the beautiful early homes and their histories are gone. Some burned and many were in the way of progress and were razed.

The larger homes in the town were of neo-classical and colonial revival architectural design. Some large and many smaller homes reflected the Queen Anne and Italianate styles popular at the time.

There also were “Folk” houses. These are primarily one story, balloon-frame dwellings which were originally built with brick foundations and chimneys and exteriors of weather board siding. The design is called gabled ell.

To help preserve the history of Poplar Bluff the Historical Preservation Commission presents the following listing of homes built in the 1800s.

Extensive research has been done, but no doubt many 19th century houses have been inadvertently overlooked.

Because of their historic significance and/or the integrity of their design a few of these houses are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These are designated here with the letters “N.R.H.P.”

The Historical Preservation Commission requests that anyone having knowledge and authentic information about houses standing in the city that date back to the 1800s please contact the City Planning office. This information will be used in updating versions of these listings.

We also welcome documented information to correct any errors that may have been made in this research

405 North Main St.House was built by Louis B. and Henry Grafe, c. 1890. One of several houses built on land first owned by Elkin Crain, an Illinois Militia private who fought in the Black Hawk Indian War. Crain was awarded a parcel or parcels of land that were part of a federal patent dated 1859. Home of Louis B. Grafe, a merchant-tailor. Later the house was bought by the Grafe brothers’ sister, Mary, and her husband, Carl Knecht, a druggist, and became known as the Knecht house. The house originally had a porch along the east side that joined the present front porch. It is modified Colonial Revival style architecture.

411 North Main St. This house also was built by the Grafe brothers, c.1890. It was the home of Henry Grafe, merchant-tailor. The architectural style is Queen Anne with elements of English Tudor.

415 North Main St Built in the 1890s by R. P. Liles, a grocer and manufacturer of furniture, sash and blinds. He represented Butler County in the Missouri House of Representative in 1880-82 and 1888-90. It is a modified Victorian style.

Margaret Harwell Art Museum
421 N. Main St.

421 North Main St. Moore-Dalton house, the Margaret Harwell Art Museum since 1981. Built in 1883 by T.H. Moore, a merchant. Sold to James L. Dalton, a merchant and adding machine manufacturer, in 1896. It was sold to the City of Poplar Bluff by the Dalton heirs in 1980. The house was built on land that was a part of the Elkin Crain land grant. The style is Neo-Classical. (National Register of Historic Places)

437 Main St. This Queen Anne style house was built in 1884 by Henry Leuer, associate in a firm that manufactured wood veneer for furniture and all kinds of baskets. His firm is reported to have been equipped to make 75,000 to 100,000 strawberry baskets per day.

732 North Main Purchased by Ernest Bacon, an engineer, and later a real estate agent, c.1890, builder unknown. Enlarged and remodeled. Later owned by his daughter Erna and husband P. G. Haag. It was sold by the Haag heirs in the middle 1900s. Queen Anne style.

808 North Main St Bacon-Turner house construction was begun in 1892 by David Paul Bacon. The house was completed in 1899 and occupied by Mr. Bacon and his bride. After the death of her husband in 1907, Mrs. Bacon married Willis Turner, a banker. She continued to live in the house after Mr. Turner’s death until she died in 1955. Shortly later It was bought by Dr. F. J. and Virginia Biggs for a family home. They gave the house to Three Rivers Community College in the late 1970s. It was sold by the college for residential use. This Four Square style house was originally frame and had a widow’s walk on the top of the roof.

809 N. Main St.Ball-Garetson-Adams house built in the early 1880s by Lucius Ball, owner of Ball’s Mill on Black River. Second occupant was his daughter and husband, Bertha and Robert Garetson, followed by their daughter Nellie and her husband,Dr. J.O. Adams. Sold by the Adams heirs in the late 1980s. This house was built on land grant property awarded to Lucius Ball for military service. The architectural design is Federal.

917 Hickory St Victorian cottage of Carpenter Gothic Stick style, built in 1884. First owner unknown.

629 Lindsay St Built in 1896 by A.L. Sutton, occupation unknown. The design is Queen Anne with Stick style influences.312 Euclid St. ---- Walter Howe Kennedy built the house in 1898. He was a local photographer who is responsible for most of the historical pictures available of the city, its homes and business places. Mrs. Kennedy was a school teacher who shared with Mrs. Hattie Williamson (McDonald) in the honor of having the Williamson-Kennedy Elementary School (1922-97) named for them. Mrs. Williamson McDonald also was a teacher and later principal of the school. The house is Dutch Colonial style906 Fairmount----The original house was one story and built in 1893. The second floor was added c. 1910. The house style is a Victorian Plan Craftsman style with Tudor influences.

723 North Ninth St. House was built in the late 1880s on land originally purchased by George and Mattie Ries for the purpose of building a college. Mr. Ries was pastor of the Presbyterian Church. It was sold to J. F. Lynn in 1888. The land on which the house stands was part of 120 acres given to Private John Malehorn by the United States government for military service in the War of 1812. The style of the house is Carpenter Gothic with ornate wood trim.

731 Vine St. This house was built in 1883 of bricks hand-made by slave labor. Occupied by the Crowley and Donnelly families for many years. The 1927 tornado took the original porch from the house and trees from the yard. Original owner unknown. The style is modified Four Square.

848 Vine St. H. D. Willams built the house in 1892. Mr. Williams, who came here from England, was owner of the H. D. Williams Cooperage Co. They made and shipped staves worldwide. He ordered English oak from his native land for the interior woodwork in his home which came to be known as the English Castle. It is a combination of Queen Anne and Gothic styles.

115 S. Eighth St. Original one-story house built in c.1880. Purchased by W. A. Holcomb in 1900 from W. H. Hipolite who was leaving Poplar Bluff to join members of his family in the candy making business. They manufactured nationally know Hipolite marshmallows and related products. Mr. Holcomb, founder of the Holcomb Machine Shop, added a second story to the house in 1910 and lived there with his family until his death. The house remained in the family until recent years. It is Stick style Queen Anne with Colonial Revival influences.

422 Lester St. A Mr. Baumhoefer, an architect and builder who came here from St. Louis, built this house in the 1880s. He sold it to J. J. Greer in 1900. Greer made his family home there for 40 years. It is Victorian, Second Empire style with elements of Italianate. Restoration in progress, 1999.

427 Lester St. Built by the Grafe Brothers, Louis B. and Henry, in the late 1880s. It was first the home of Louis. Later it was occupied by his sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Carl Knecht , and then by their son, Dr. Louis B. Knecht and his wife Charlotte . Owned by Knecht family until 1929. It was purchased by the City of Poplar Bluff in 1997 and is now the Children’s Art Museum. Built on Elkin Crain land grant property, it is a Victorian “L” cottage.

435 Lester St. This Queen Anne Classical Revival house was built in 1896 by T. H. Moore . The Moore family lived in this house until the death of the last surviving member, daughter Almarine, in 1974. It was bequeathed to First United Methodist Church and later sold by them. It also is built on Elkin Crain land grant property. (N.R.H.P.)

515 Kinzer St. C. W. Tetwiler home built by him in c. 1893. He was a contractor and builder of many homes here in the 1880s. The style is a combination of Queen Anne and Colonial Revival.

830 Cynthia St. House dates back to 1887 according to county records. It is Queen Anne style and has recently been restored.

502 Poplar St. The house was built in the 1890s by Harry Mengel as a family home. The Queen Anne style house has been vastly altered over the years. Mr. Mengel was in the timber and later real estate business with Harvey I. Ruth, another prominent citizen of the town.

513 Poplar St. The house was built in 1877. The first owner is unknown though R. P. Liles was an early owner and perhaps the first. The style is similar to a colonial half-house. Additions have been made to each side of the original house.

520 Poplar St. Built in 1889 by John S. Mengel Sr., who came here from Pennsylvania in the early to middle 1880s. He was the father of 11 or 12 children. The house was owned by the Mengel family for 34 years, then sold to George W. Stewart in 1919.The house was left to Stewart’s daughter, Opal, who with her husband Emery “Pete” Peters, lived there until 1978. It is Federal style. Peters was a high school coach and teacher and later principal.

616 Poplar St. Built in 1890s, the house sits on land first owned by James A. Gilley (see 528 Cherry St.). Early owners were Jeremiah Bullock, William and Susan Combs and H. H. Hart. It is Queen Anne style and was probably built by Combs or Hart.

629 Poplar St This Queen Anne house was built in the late 1880s on land purchased by John Stevens and John Martin from the United States Land Grant office in Jackson, Mo. They purchased 144.52 acres lying on both sides of Black River in 1850.This lot on Poplar Street was sold by them to Green Copelia. An identical house formerly stood at either side of the present house. Each of them burned some years ago. First owner is unknown. A former owner found a newspaper dated in the 1800s in the wall of the house.

826 Poplar St. Built in the late 1890s, this house has 12 inch studs made of cypress and oak timber. Early owners were the Driest brothers, Albertus and Claus, and their sister, Rufie. They came here from Germany. Albertus was a foreman at L. M. Palmer Cooperage Co., Claus and Rufie were in the grocery business in the building at the corner of Poplar and Eighth streets. The architectural style is Four Square.

205 South Sixth St. The Randall house was built in 1889 by W. S. Randall a merchant and banker. He also served as city collector and as postmaster for 10 years. The house is of Italianate style though Mr. Randall modified the porch in 1910 in Colonial Revival style. The house has had numerous owners since 1922.Extensive restoration was done in 1979. (N.R.H.P.)

303 S. Sixth St.
303 South Sixth St.

303 South Sixth St. Luke F. Quinn built this house in 1884. He was a civil engineer and owner of a several businesses best known of which was the City Drug Store. Mr. Quinn was born in Ireland. He and Mrs. Quinn had a large family and their large home built on a hill overlooking the downtown area was nicknamed “the Irish Castle”. The house was built of local sandstone. The facade was altered in 1950. The architectural design uses elements of the Italianate style. (N.R.H.P.)

detail- Cherry Street house
522 Cherry St.

522 Cherry St This house was built by John Archibald Phillips in 1891. Phillips was an engineer on the St. Louis Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad and served as a city councilman. The house remains a fine example of Queen Anne style and since 1985 has been the Butler County Historical Society Museum. (N.R.H.P.)

528 Cherry St Jesse A. Gilley built this house in 1849, according to the present owner. Mr. Gilley was the first Poplar Bluff postmaster. The style is Federalist.

534 Cherry St This house at this location was built in 1894. It was damaged by the 1927 tornado and repaired. The house was occupied by the Hach family for many years. Harry Hach built the Crown Hotel in 1889. The hotel building stood on the southeast corner of Broadway and Cherry St. The Hach family may have been the first owners of the house. The architectural style is Gabled Ell.

501 Cedar Street
501 Cedar Street

501 Cedar Street This house is hardly visible because of the buildings and trees that almost surround it. It was the home of Levi Mengel, son of John S. Mengel, Sr., and brother of Harry Mengel. He built the house in the late l890s. It is Queen Anne style. Mr. Mengel was in the mercantile business, he and his wife later moved to St. Louis to make their. home.

208 North B Street
208 North B Street

208 North B Street Built on land purchased in 1820 by Poplar Bluff’s first postmaster Jesse A. Gilley from the United States Land Grant office. Gilley sold the B Street lots to John and James Quackenbush who along with the next owner, James L. Babcock built the house in the early 1890s. It was purchased by W. H. and Sara Ann Wilsey in 1898. He was a railroad conductor. The Wilsey’s daughter married Dr. Victor Cadwell, well known Poplar Bluff doctor of that time. The Cadwells lived in the house with the Wilseys. After the early death of her daughter and subsequent deaths of Mr. Wilsey and Dr. Cadwell, Mrs. Wilsey and her grandson lived in the house until 1925 when she sold it. Since then it has had a series of owners. The present owners are restoring the house which is Victorian Queen Anne Stick style with Colonial Revival influences. The exterior has been painted in the original color, a poplar Victorian era house color.


(Revised, September 2000)


“Deem’s History of Butler County,” by David Bruce Deem
“A View of a Growing Town,” compiled by Richard L. Metcalfe
William R. Hogg’s collection of historic information and pictures
Richard Minetree, local historian
Historic Resources of Poplar Bluff, Mo., from the United States Department of Interior, National Park Sercvice.


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