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This is one of the gems of St. Louis architecture: the Chatillon-DeMenil House. The history of this building is quite fascinating. It’s hard to believe that this imposing Greek Revival style home began as a humble, four-room farmhouse, with a broad porch that overlooked the Mississippi River! Henri Chatillon was a French American explorer who decided to settle down after a life of guiding pioneers to Oregon. He built the house in 1848.
Following the turmoil of the Civil War, the mansion got new owners: Nicolas and Sophie DeMenil. Nicolas earned his wealth from land speculation and a successful drug store. His wife, Sophie, hailed from the founding family of St. Louis, the Chouteaus. It was the Chouteau relative’s grand mansion in downtown St. Louis, that inspired the DeMenils to expand the simple farmhouse with a massive addition in the Greek Revival style. Towering ionic columns form a dynamic front porch that embraced the mansion’s view of the river.
The house was passed down to the DeMenils’ son, who was the last of the family to reside there before Lee Hess purchased the property in the 1940s. A consummate showman, Hess used the house as storage for his nearby Cherokee Cave attraction. When Interstate 55 came crashing into existence in the 1960s, the house was spared from demolition at the last second by the Landmarks Association of St. Louis, which bought the house and land and set up the nonprofit board that still runs the museum today.
Original painting is pen & watercolor on watercolor paper | 14 x 11"
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