Campbell House

Construction and First Owner (1851–1853)

The Campbell's House, circa 1885. © Campbell House Foundation 2004

The Camp­bel­l’s House, cir­ca 1885.
© Camp­bell House Foun­da­tion 2004

A unique sur­vivor, the Campbell’s house was the first built on Lucas Place and a social cen­ter dur­ing the 1870s. By 1938 it was the only build­ing left from the orig­i­nal Lucas Place.

On May 15, 1851, dry goods mer­chant John Hall and his part­ner James Don­ald­son bought the lot on which 20 Lucas Place would be built. The lot had 50 feet of street frontage and was 155 feet deep from the street to the alley. Hall paid $5,000 for the lot. Not­ed St. Louis archi­tect Thomas Waryng Walsh(1826–1890) designed the house. At the time Walsh was in part­ner­ship with Joseph Edgar.

The orig­i­nal house was of a large town­house design — a rec­tan­gu­lar plan, three floors with an attic and Eng­lish base­ment and a two sto­ry floun­der wing at the rear. The house is of no par­tic­u­lar archi­tec­tural style. The cast iron bal­cony on the front of the house is Goth­ic in detail, while the front entry­way is in the Greek-Revival style pop­u­lar dur­ing the 1840s. All facades are of fin­ished and paint­ed brick, except the unpaint­ed west facade. Although it looks like a row house, it was nev­er attached to any­thing. The Camp­bell House rep­re­sents an impor­tant tran­si­tion­al peri­od in hous­ing design.

Second Owner (1853–1854)

In 1853, hav­ing nev­er lived in the house, Hall sold it to Mrs. Cor­nelia Wil­son. Unusu­al­ly for a woman of her time, Wil­son owned the house in her own right, liv­ing there for 18 months with her husband.

The Campbells (1854–1938) 

Robert Camp­bell pur­chased 20 Lucas Place from Mrs. Wil­son on Novem­ber 8th, 1854, for

Hugh Campbell's obituary, 1931.  © Campbell House Foundation 2004

Hugh Camp­bel­l’s obit­u­ary, 1931.
© Camp­bell House Foun­da­tion 2004

$13,667.50. The Camp­bells began fur­nish­ing their house with pieces bought in Philadel­phia. They also made the first of many alter­ations, expand­ing the kitchen and din­ing room, and adding a servant’s room and stairs on the sec­ond floor. Two years lat­er, Robert bought the adja­cent lot, enabling him to add a gar­den, car­riage house, and servant’s hall (the servant’s hall no longer exists).

The final major alter­ations came in 1867, when the Camp­bells embarked on a grand tour of Europe. While they were away, Robert had the par­lor recon­fig­ured, added two bays to both the main house and the floun­der wing, and added a third floor to the floun­der. The three sur­viv­ing sons made only a few changes of their own, con­vert­ing the house to elec­tric­i­ty and adding a bath­room to the sec­ond floor.

When Hazlett Camp­bell died in 1938 and his estate became tied up in the court sys­tem, local

cit­i­zens expressed con­cern for the fate of Lucas Place’s last sur­viv­ing res­i­dence. The William Clark Soci­ety, togeth­er with oth­er orga­ni­za­tions like the Adver­tis­ing Club of St. Louis, band­ed togeth­er to try to save the house. In just six weeks, they man­aged to raise $6,000 to pur­chase many Camp­bell items at auc­tion in 1941. Hun­dreds of oth­er pieces were donat­ed by pri­vate cit­i­zens. The house itself was not pur­chased until 1942, with the help of a large dona­tion by Stix, Baer, and Fuller, a local depart­ment store.

The Museum (1942-Today)

Since 1943, the Camp­bell House Foun­da­tion has oper­at­ed and pre­served the house as a muse­um. The Foun­da­tion has under­tak­en sev­er­al major restora­tions, most recent­ly from 1999 to 2005. With the aid of 57 inte­ri­or pho­tographs that were tak­en some­time in the 1880s, the

Painted decoration being restored in the Parlor, May 2004.  © Campbell House Foundation 2004

Paint­ed dec­o­ra­tion being restored in the Par­lor, May 2004.
© Camp­bell House Foun­da­tion 2004

house has been metic­u­lous­ly restored to how it appeared in the Camp­bells day. Fur­ni­ture has been placed where it was, the car­pet­ing and wall­pa­per recre­at­ed, and paint analy­sis per­formed on the walls, ceil­ings, and wood­work, pro­duc­ing the exact same col­ors and pat­terns there in the 1880s.