Category Archives: Campbell

Reflections of the Past


Camp­bell House­’s Scot­tron mir­ror, August 2013

Part of what makes a vis­it to the Camp­bell House Muse­um such an expe­ri­ence is the enor­mous num­ber of orig­i­nal pieces of fur­ni­ture and knick-knack­ery that fill the halls of the 160-year-old home.  From tables and chairs to armoires and a piano, the house has quite the col­lec­tion of Vic­to­ri­ana.  But occa­sion­al­ly, much like the house itself, these items need a lit­tle elbow grease and T.L.C. to keep them in tip-top shape.  A per­fect exam­ple of this is the adjustable dou­ble mir­ror that can be found in a cor­ner of the Camp­bell House library (see the bot­tom of the page for some up close and per­son­al snap­shots of some of the mir­ror’s detail).

The mir­ror’s design was patent­ed in 1868 by Samuel Scot­tron. Scot­tron was a promi­nent African Amer­i­can inven­tor from Brook­lyn, New York who began his career as a bar­ber and would even­tu­al­ly be grant­ed four U.S. patents.  This par­tic­u­lar piece is unique because Scot­tron designed it so that users could “see them­selves as oth­ers see them.”  In oth­er words, the mir­ror could be adjust­ed so your reflec­tion was reflect­ed, revers­ing the mir­rored image. (Try and say that three times fast.)


Scot­tron’s dou­ble mir­ror patent, ca. 1868


Samuel Scot­tron

In the mod­el the Camp­bel­l’s owned, a pair of fan­cy cast iron arms and a high stand sup­port a pair of wal­nut oval-shaped mir­ror frames that swiv­el in all direc­tions.  (As a side note, if you can believe it, the mir­ror was pur­chased for the muse­um at the 1941 Camp­bell estate auc­tion for $5.50!)

How­ev­er, a few years ago, as the muse­um’s restora­tion drew to a close, the mir­ror was in pret­ty rough shape.  In the 1960s, one of the wood frames and mir­rors had gone miss­ing, mak­ing the impres­sive dou­ble mir­ror pret­ty well use­less in terms of its orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed method of use.


The Camp­bells’ Scot­tron dou­ble mir­ror in the library, ca. 1885

Luck­i­ly, muse­um mem­ber and mas­ter car­pen­ter Don Dill worked long and hard to com­plete restora­tion work on the mir­ror, replac­ing the miss­ing piece and restor­ing it to its orig­i­nal con­di­tion. The mir­ror is still in the same room in which it has sat since the last half of the 19th cen­tu­ry.  (see some detail pho­tos of the mir­ror at the bot­tom of this post)

Don’s work goes hand in hand with the Muse­um’s efforts to con­serve and restore its col­lec­tion of orig­i­nal objects and arti­facts, seen most recent­ly in the hang­ing of lav­ish new draperies in the par­lor sev­er­al weeks ago.


CHM par­lor & new­ly installed draperies, May 2013.

Click here to read more about the par­lor draperies project,recently fea­tured in Ladue News’ Ele­gant Liv­ing publication.


Scot­tron’s” detail on back of mirror


Detail — left side of mirror


Pat’d March 31 1868” detail on back of mirror

The Lost Neighborhood of St. Louis’ Gilded Age

At Fourteenth Street begins one of the beauty spots of St. Louis, commonly known as Lucas Place. For full three blocks not a shanty rears its head. All the houses are large and handsome, and the shade trees the best the city can show. The street is paved with large blocks of limestone, and is, consequently, very clean. It is an intensely quiet spot, and if children live there they are kept within doors, and are never allowed to make mud pies in the gutter…”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 16 October 1880

Lucas Place in Color

Lucas Place between 15 and 16 streets, pho­tographed cir­ca 1880

For only 40 years Lucas Place was the show­place street for St. Louis’ rich and pow­er­ful. Pop­u­lat­ed by suc­cess­ful mer­chants, politi­cians, mil­i­tary offi­cers and physi­cians, Lucas Place was sur­round­ed by some of the city’s finest insti­tu­tions, includ­ing Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, Mary Insti­tute, the Saint Louis Art Muse­um, and the first pub­lic high school west of the Mississippi.


Map of Lucas Place, 1883. The pink shapes show the foot­prints of the orig­i­nal mansions.

But today a vis­i­tor to down­town St. Louis would nev­er know such a place exist­ed. Even the name Lucas Place has dis­ap­peared. Today we call it Locust Street. It is tru­ly a lost neigh­bor­hood that exists only in pho­tos and news­pa­per sto­ries. Camp­bell House is of course the excep­tion to this state­ment. Begin­ning in 1851 it was at the heart of the neigh­bor­hood and today it is all that is left of Lucas Place.


The cor­ner of 16th and Locust Street in 1910.


The same cor­ner today.

For decades the Camp­bell House Muse­um has been col­lect­ing an archive of mate­r­i­al about Lucas Place and now you have a chance to see the build­ings and read the sto­ries that made this street the heart of Gild­ed Age St. Louis in a new exhibit.

Lucas Place: The Lost Neigh­bor­hood of St. Louis’ Gild­ed Age opens with a recep­tion this Fri­day, March 22 between 5:30 and 8 p.m. at Archi­tec­ture St. Louis, the office of Land­marks Asso­ci­a­tion, 911 Wash­ing­ton Avenue, Suite 170. Free and open to the pub­lic. The exhib­it will be open through July and can be viewed 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon­day through Friday.

There is also a coor­di­nat­ing series of lec­tures about Lost Neigh­bor­hoods in St. Louis which is list­ed below.

View of Lucas Place during a parade in 1895.

Lucas Place on parade, 1895

Land­marks Asso­ci­a­tion and Camp­bell House Muse­um are spon­sor­ing this pro­gram in part­ner­ship with the Mis­souri Human­i­ties Coun­cil with sup­port from the Nation­al Endow­ment for the Humanities.MOHuman

Lecture Series: Lost Neighborhoods of St. Louis 

Mon­day, April 1: Bob Moore, Chief His­to­ri­an at the Jef­fer­son Nation­al Expan­sion Memo­r­i­al – Bob will dis­cuss Colo­nial St. Louis and lead a dig­i­tal tour of his 3D mod­el of the town. 12:00–1:15. (Kranzberg Arts Center).

Thurs­day, April 4: Bob Moore – Bob will fol­low his dis­cus­sion of Colo­nial St. Louis with an exam­i­na­tion of Ear­ly Amer­i­can St. Louis. 12:00–1:15. (Kranzberg Arts Center).

Thurs­day, April 11: Ron “John­ny Rab­bit” Elz — Gaslight Square. Ron will dis­cuss the peo­ple, build­ings, and venues that defined one of St. Louis’ great­est enter­tain­ment dis­tricts. (Gaslight The­ater, 358 N. Boyle. Doors at 7:00, pre­sen­ta­tion 7:30–9:00). * This is an evening lecture. 

Thurs­day, April 18: Dr. Hup­ing Ling, Pro­fes­sor of His­to­ry and founder of the Asian Stud­ies Pro­gram at Tru­man State Uni­ver­si­ty – Pro­fes­sor Ling will dis­cuss the 19th and 20th cen­tu­ry Chi­nese enclave that once thrived in down­town St. Louis. 6:30–8:00. Kranzberg Arts Cen­ter. * This is an evening lecture. 

Thurs­day, April 25: Michael Allen, archi­tec­tur­al his­to­ri­an and direc­tor of the Preser­va­tion Research Office, — Michael will dis­cuss the DeS­o­to-Carr Neigh­bor­hood and its suc­ces­sor, the Pruitt-Igoe Hous­ing Com­plex. 12:00–1:15. (Kranzberg Arts Center).

Thurs­day, May 2: Andy Hahn, Direc­tor, Camp­bell House Muse­um, and his­to­ri­an Tom Gron­s­ki- Andy and Tom will dis­cuss the build­ings and res­i­dents of Lucas Place. 12:00–1:15. (Kranzberg Arts Center).

Thurs­day, May 9: Thomas Danisi, local his­to­ri­an and author of the crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed book Dis­cov­er­ing Meri­wether Lewis – Thomas will dis­cuss his new research into ear­ly set­tle­ment of the St. Louis Com­mon Fields. 12:00–1:15. (Kranzberg Arts Center).

The Kranzberg Arts Cen­ter is locat­ed at 501 N. Grand in Grand Cen­ter. Street park­ing or at the Scot­tish Rite Garage, 3634 Olive. Feel free to bring lunch to the day­time talks. Talks are free and open to the public.

For more infor­ma­tion please call 314–421-0325.

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



Missouri Park and Lucas Place

The small park behind the St. Louis Pub­lic Library is called Lucas Park in hon­or of the fam­i­ly that once owned the land.  In about 1810 Judge J.B.C. Lucas pur­chased a large par­cel of land that includes today’s Lucas Park.

In 1850 the Lucas fam­i­ly devel­oped a new res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood on their land, which they not sur­pris­ing­ly named Lucas Place. From its con­cep­tion this neigh­bor­hood was intend­ed to be very dif­fer­ent with wide build­ing set­backs and deed restric­tions ban­ning com­mer­cial activ­i­ties. The new street Lucas Place was also off­set 50-feet from the city street grid.


Mis­souri Park and Lucas Place, from “Pic­to­r­i­al St. Louis”, 1875

A defin­ing fea­ture of Lucas Place was a new green space called Mis­souri Park, which the Lucas fam­i­ly had deed­ed to the city in 1854. Mis­souri Park was bound­ed by 13th, Olive, 14th and St. Charles streets. The park stretched across Lucas Place pre­vent­ing through traf­fic into the neigh­bor­hood and was a key ele­ment in defin­ing the neigh­bor­hood as “a place apart”. By 1875 Mis­souri Park boast­ed, “an iron foun­tain, 116 bench­es, 368 shade trees, 277 shrubs, and was sur­round­ed by a wood­en pick­et fence.”  It was also the first park in St. Louis to have gas light­ing along its pathways.

As com­mer­cial devel­op­ment began to encroach on Lucas Place in the ear­ly 1880s, Mis­souri Park was select­ed as the site for St. Louis’ grand­est build­ing of the peri­od, the Music and Expo­si­tion Hall. Com­plet­ed in 1884, this mas­sive build­ing was St. Louis’ first con­ven­tion cen­ter and encom­passed the entire 4‑acre foot­print of the old Mis­souri Park.  Mea­sur­ing 146,000 square feet the Exhi­bi­tion Hall host­ed the 1888 and 1904 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tions and the 1896 Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion. The Music Hall sat 4,000 and was the first per­ma­nent home to the Saint Louis Symphony.


Music and Expo­si­tion Hall, cir­ca 1890

The Music and Expo­si­tion Hall was demol­ished in 1907 hav­ing been replaced by a larg­er and new­er St. Louis Col­i­se­um. The site was then select­ed for the new St. Louis Pub­lic Library, built with a $1 mil­lion gift from Andrew Carnegie. Because the Library was designed to use only two-thirds of the old expo­si­tion site the north­ern part of the old Mis­souri Park was restored to green space and renamed Lucas Park. At the same time Locust Street was cut through the space between the new Library and the restored park. When the street was cut through it result­ed in the unusu­al curve at 13 and Locust streets, which can still be seen today.  By 1918 Lucas Park had been plant­ed with “forty-five thou­sands shrubs and flower plants…set out in artis­ti­cal­ly designed beds” and was one of the finest parks in St. Louis.  After 1950, all the old res­i­den­tial build­ings in the vicin­i­ty of Lucas Park had van­ished (except for the Camp­bell House) as down­town was trans­form­ing into an exclu­sive­ly com­mer­cial district.

Like this post? Look for the new exhib­it Lucas Place: The Lost Neigh­bor­hood of St. Louis’ Gold­en Age open­ing March 22 at the Land­marks Asso­ci­a­tion of St. Louis. Exhib­it made pos­si­ble through a grant from the Mis­souri Human­i­ties Coun­cil.


Lucas Park and the St. Louis Pub­lic Library, from a cir­ca 1920 postcard.

A quiet snowy afternoon.

An unex­pect­ed snowy after­noon made for some nice pho­tos to share. The beau­ti­ful black wrought iron of the Camp­bell House fence always looks good in the against the snow. The pho­tos high­light the three unique finials on the fence.