Oliver Anderson House
The Colonel Oliver Anderson House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The Colonel Oliver Anderson House, 1101 Delaware Street, Lexington, Missouri, is a two and one-half story brick house facing west with a two-story brick ell projecting from the east (rear) wall. The ell of the north wall is a slightly inset continuation of the north wall of the main block. Built 1853 with slave labor.
The Colonel Oliver Anderson House is a late example of the Federal style house in Missouri with some features showing innovative mid-nineteenth century details. The house is traditional in basic form having a rectangular block under the ridge roof and symmetrical facade. A width of five bays expresses the interior plan of the large central hallway flanked on both sides by two rooms (one in front and one behind).
The Colonel Oliver Anderson House has a stone foundation. Facade brick work is notable as it is laid up entirely in stretcher courses with no headers, a departure from the more typical English bond of Missouri houses of this period.
The house has double chimneys on top of each main block gable wall with modest brick courses ornamenting the top of the stacks.
The broad wooden Federal style cornice is appropriately without dentil courses or brackets. Windows and doors are vertically proportioned with cast iron sills and lintels. Cast iron capitols in a modified Corinthian order are on the front porch columns. Use of cast iron shows knowledge by the builder of period building art developments.
A one-story front porch at the center of the facade has a balcony above which is accessible through a doorway at the west end of the second floor central hall. The front porch may be a later addition as it was not included in an early engraving of the Battle of Lexington. However, as other details of the house are incorrect in this view, its reliability is questionable. (Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, October 12, 1861.) On the rear of house and a portion of the ell there is a two-story wooden gallery.
The interior of the Colonel Oliver Anderson House is surprisingly spacious. Fireplaces are open in each of the eight rooms of the main block of the house. The stairway, "U" in plan, at the rear of the central hallway gives access both to the second floor and attic. Native black walnut woodwork is throughout. Interior partition walls are of brick construction, 13-1/2-14 inches thick.
The Colonel Oliver Anderson House suffered minor damage when used as a field hospital during the Battle of Lexington, September 19, 20, 21, 1861. Many bullet holes are in evidence.
The house suffered neglect in 1923-1925. It was repaired in 1933-1934 as a WPA project. During 1955 and years following, restoration work was carried on by the Anderson House Foundation, Inc. Missouri State Park Board became the owner in 1959 and has continued restoration. The Colonel Oliver Anderson House was recorded in an Historic American Buildings Survey project by Kansas City architect, Kenneth E. Coombs in 1965.
Trenches used by the Union forces during the Battle of Lexington are in evidence on a hilltop adjoining the house site. The battlefield site and slightly rounded trenches are landscaped and maintained as a park by the Missouri State Park Board. The battlefield has not been restored.
The Colonel Oliver Anderson House, which overlooks the Missouri River, was built in 1853 by Colonel Oliver Anderson, a native of Lexington, Kentucky. Anderson, who came to Missouri in 1851, established a rope and bag manufactory which processed the locally grown hemp.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, all inhabitants of Missouri were required to take an oath of allegiance to the United States. Because of his Southern heritage, Col. Anderson refused to take the oath and was imprisoned by the Federal troops. His house and property were confiscated.
Lexington, a strategically located river town, was under the Union command of Col. James Mulligan. Confederate General Sterling Price planned to capture Lexington, cut off the Federal water route to Kansas and secured more recruits from northern Missouri. This area had been cut off by the Federal control of the Missouri River.
During the Battle of Lexington, September 13, 19, 20, 1861, the Colonel Oliver Anderson House was used as a field hospital by both the Union and Confederate forces. The hospital changed hands three times during the three-day battle. The interior and exterior of the house show battle scars incurred during the fighting.
Most of the battle was fought on an adjoining hilltop approximately 1/4 mile from the Anderson House. Mulligan fortified his headquarters within the Masonic College located on this hill. Mulligan ordered the construction of earthen trenches to encircle the college.
General Price successfully laid siege to the entrenched Union troops and within three days forced their surrender. The battle is often referred to as the Battle of the Hemp Bales. Price made use of the hemp bales manufactured by Col. Anderson as breastworks for his men as they ascended the hill toward the Federal troops.
The Colonel Oliver Anderson House and battlefield are historically significant as one of Missouri's few Civil War battle sites remaining almost entirely intact.
State Historical Society of Missouri's Historic Sites File, ref. Lafayette. County.
Meyer, Duane. The Heritage of Missouri: A History, (St. Louis: State Publishing Co., Inc. 1965, pp.373-374.
† Martha L. Kusiak, State Historical Survey and Planning Office, Missouri State Park Board, Anderson House and Lexington Battlefield, nomination document, 1969, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.