banner search whats new site index home

Central Park Historic District


The Central Park Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.

Description

The Central Park Historic District neighborhood of Hannibal, Missouri, includes most of thirty square blocks, including those parts of the original plat of the city that have remained in predominantly residential use. The 272 buildings are for the most part not concentrated in a single time period, but good examples from the 1840's to the 1930's are to be found scattered throughout the area.[1] Most of the buildings employ the popular styles of American architecture in a vernacular way, but a few may be described as high style, including two public buildings by major St. Louis architectural firms. In addition to these buildings, the Central Park Historic District includes six churches or former churches and thirty-seven commercial buildings, concentrated for the most part along Broadway, the major east-west thoroughfare which bisects the Central Park Historic District. Only eleven buildings, all commercial, have been classified as intrusions in that they are out of keeping with the overall period, scale and character of the district. Near the center of the Central Park Historic District is the Old Federal Building of 1884-88, which has been separately nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, and two other National Register properties are immediately adjacent: the old Police Station and Jail at South Fourth and Church streets, and the Eighth and Center streets Baptist Church.

In general, the highest part of the Central Park Historic District is the north end, where the highest point is the intersection of Sixth and North streets. From the north end, the Central Park Historic District slopes rather regularly to the south and the east. Fifth Street is terminated at its south end by a steep drop. More than half of the building sites in the Central Park Historic District have substantial grade differentials, so that many basements are actually at ground level or above. Many of the houses in the north part of the Central Park Historic District have partial views of the Mississippi River. The two houses on the north side of Hill Street between Fifth and Sixth streets stand about twenty feet above the street level on a partly natural and partly man-made rock ledge. At the northeast corner of Sixth and Hill Streets, this rock was apparently quarried at an early period, with the result that the next house to the north, 412 North Sixth Street, is even higher above the level of Hill Street and has an unobstructed view of the entire riverfront.

The focus of the Central Park Historic District is, of course, Central Park, which is a full block, bounded by Fourth, Fifth, Broadway and Center streets. It is the junction of the commercial, governmental, institutional and residential areas of the city. The park centers on a cast-iron fountain and is also embellished with a bandstand, a war memorial monument, and a life-size bronze statue of William Henry Hatch (1833-1894), Hannibal's U.S. Congressman from 1878 to 1894 and one of the early advocates of a Department of Agriculture.[2] At the northeast corner of Fourth and Broadway is the 1909 City Hall, a two-story neoclassical limestone structure of broad Corinthian pilasters and rusticated corners; its entablature has recently been replaced by a concrete parapet. Its interior is richly appointed, with a bronze balustrade, marble floors and wainscotting, and murals in the council chamber. The building was designed by Barnett, Haynes and Barnett, the well-known St. Louis firm, who had designed Rockcliffe Mansion in Hannibal a decade previously.[3]

The north side of the park is a line of two- and three-story buildings dating from different periods and serving different functions, but visually tied together by their red brick and similar scale. At 322 Center Street and Fourth Street is the old Missouri Guaranty Building, constructed c.1894 in the Romanesque Revival style, with a row of stone-trimmed arches along its first floor, and its entrance oriented toward the park. Originally built for a bank, it is new in residential use. Next west is the three-story Price Apartments of 1904, while at 412 Center Street is the two-story office of Dr. E.A. Porter, dating from 1936. The YMCA occupies the northeast corner of Fifth and Center, with a three-bay porch on Center Street. It was designed in 1910 by Shattuck and Hussey of Chicago, who did many Y's in the Midwest. The building is in the contemporary mode of the period, enlivened by beige stucco panels between the windows of the third floor.

Facing the park along its Fifth Street side are two churches, two former medical offices, and the former Park Theatre of 1882, now the Masonic Temple. The Park Methodist Church anchors the northwest corner of the park. It was built in 1881, with a matching rear wing added in 1906. Its south and east gable ends have large circular windows with rectilinear tracery, boarded up since the congregation moved to a new suburban site in 1968. The tower at the corner of Fifth and Center has a round-headed entryway, rectangular louvers, and triangular parapets supporting a shingled spire. The Fifth Street Baptist Church is more clearly Romanesque in inspiration, with an entrance arcade and round-headed arches on several levels. It was built in 1893 to designs of J.C. Sunderland, employing an orange-colored brick that is unique in Hannibal. The central gable is flanked by square towers of unequal height, the north one terminating in an open arcade, pyramidal roof and finial.

The south side of Broadway opposite the park is a commercial frontage of mostly three and six-bay, three-story structures. The character of this stretch was established about 1855 with the construction of Robards Row, of which #421-423 is a retaining portion. League's Row, #401-403-405, was built in 1869; its three units preserve to varying degrees cornice, frieze and lintels. Number 405 has its intact shopfront, as does the larger Mozart Hall of 1871 next door at #407-409. The Elks Building at #411 was refaced in 1925 in the conventional style of the day but given extra character by motifs from the Egyptian Revival. The last frontage in the block is the entrance to the old Orpheum Theater, which opened in 1922 (the auditorium itself is located in mid-block). Although the building is now used by a church, it retains the original marquee, white-glazed terra-cotta exterior with wedgewood-like insets, and the faience-tiled ticket lobby.

Extending west along Broadway through the Central Park Historic District is a similar mix of nineteenth and early-twentieth century commercial structures. Among the most notable are the related 1885 structures at 516-513 Broadway (two stories) and 520 Broadway (three stories); #516 retains its "Thorpe & Koker, St. Louis" cast-iron columns. Next door is the Holmes Building of c.1904, which matches the cornice of #520 but substitutes a brick parapet and more simplified detailing. Still farther west, the Security Building at 609-611 Broadway of 1912 has a facade of white-glazed brick, an elaborately corbelled parapet, and four tile-roofed oriels. The old Rialto Theater in the same block has lost its interior auditorium but preserves its marquee and its Art Deco facade of enameled panels in blue, turquoise and yellow, with red detailing.

The characteristic early Hannibal house is a two-story gable-roofed brick structure three bays wide and two deep, with a long two-story rear wing that is shaded on one side by a two-story gallery. Most of these galleries have been altered to some extent, but fairly intact examples include the Kerchival-Lakenan-Lathrop House at 407 North Fourth Street, the Admiral Coontz Birthplace at 303 North Sixth Street, and the Van Swearingen-Dunn House at 322 North Street. Other good examples are the Bacon House at 220 South Fifth Street, the League House at 112 South Fifth Street, the Shackelford-Gleason House at 422 Church Street, the J. Carroll Beckwith Birthplace at 400 North Fourth Street, the James H. Munson House at 217 North Fifth Street, and the Eselman-Smith House at 622 Center Street. The first named of these houses has another characteristic feature in that its gable ends terminate in a parapet which makes a juncture with the front cornice by means of corbels. The two Helm houses at 415 and 417 North Sixth Street, which were once twins, display this corbelled parapet; their more unusual feature is that their end walls are stone to the level of the second story.

A few houses of the period are larger, including the Archibald Robards House at 501-503 North Fourth Street, which is four bays wide, and the Robert Honeyman House at 414 North Fifth Street, which has five bays. Perhaps the most stylish house of the period is only one story tall, the Shackelford-Worrell House at 512 Hill Street, five bays with pedimented gable ends and a pedimented front porch. This house, like the Coontz and Munson houses mentioned above, also has a doorway composed of toplight and sidelights set in a frame of four attenuated pilasters. A similar but simpler five-bay house around the corner at 415 North Fifth Street was also built by the Shackelford family, and other examples are on opposite sides of North Seventh Street at #111 and #112. All these houses are brick, and all are painted white or yellow and probably have been for many years. The "white town" described by Mark Twain in Life on the Mississippi probably was predominantly frame, but even the brick houses may have contributed to the overall color impression.

The Gothic Revival came tentatively to Hannibal, as to the rest of Missouri. The chapel of Immaculate Conception parish (Roman Catholic) at 512 Church Street was finished in 1854 in a transitional style that could have been thirty years earlier. Basically temple-like in proportion, the building has a pediment to the street but pointed windows set into rectangular window recesses. The pointed toplight over the door has fanlike mullions. Far more ambitious was the Episcopalian Trinity Church, completed in 1860. Like many other churches of the denomination in this period, it follows the models of rural English parish churches of the middle ages, with a central tower facing the street, buttresses at the corners of the tower and between the side windows, and an open beamed ceiling. In the later part of the century dormers were added to the roof, creating a clerestory effect inside, and in 1899 the top stage of the tower was added. It is of more finely dressed stone, with crenellations and corner pinnacles. The windows of the nave are outstanding examples of the late-Victorian style, mostly by Charles Booth of London, but including one by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

At about the time Trinity Church was under construction, a Gothic cottage was being built at 520 Center Street for William Marsh. It has a central gable and Tudor gables over the front windows like similar cottages illustrated by A.J. Downing, but it also has a round-headed gable window and Italianate porch, while the doorway and the woodwork in one room are Greek Revival. This hybrid structure is currently [1982] undergoing restoration.

The Italianate style began to be seen in the years just before the Civil War and became dominant immediately afterward and for the next twenty years. Many of these houses are essentially the three-bay vernacular house described above, but given much taller proportions, hipped roofs, and new details such as bracketed cornices, decorated lintels, and sometimes arched doorways. Two fine examples of this three-bay style, both now being restored, are the Robert Bridgford House, 217 South Sixth Street, and the Barrack-Hart House, 200 South Seventh Street. The first J.J. Cruikshank, Jr. House at 300 South Fifth Street, although somewhat altered in front, retains its original two-storied gallery and its carriage house. Variants of the three-bay house lacking the side gallery are the J.T. Davis House at 312 North Fifth Street, which is also being restored by the owners, the third Helm House, at 319 North Sixth Street, the Frank Hearn House at 300 North Sixth Street, and the Brown-Baskett House at 121 South Fifth Street. The Davis House is one of few unpainted brick houses in the Central Park Historic District; here the brick is an unusual coral shade.

Wealth brought to Hannibal by the lumbering industry prompted the construction of even larger Italianate houses. The Lamb-Munger House at 521 Bird Street, appears to be the biggest of them, because it is almost on the sidewalk on two sides. It has four bays facing Bird Street and five facing North Sixth Street. It also has the largest cupola, a feature locally called an observatory, once more common than now, but still to be seen on four of the most prominent houses in the Central Park Historic District. Another is the Stillwell-Garth House at 213 South Fifth Street. John Garth extensively embellished the interior of this house in the later nineteenth century with stained glass and grained woodwork, and ownership by one family since 1924 has preserved much of this. A third house is the one designed by John M. Patton for John L. Robards at 215 North Sixth Street. It is a textbook example of the Italianate style, with its porch and brackets intact as they were illustrated in the 1884 History of Marion County.[4] It was the only house in Hannibal so honored. It has five bays by three as does the J.B. Brown House at 321 North Fourth Street, which is nearly as well preserved and sports a finial at the peak of its cupola. Other five-bay Italianate houses are the Draper-Stevens House at 311 Bird Street, which has an oriel over the center door and a vestigial cupola; and the old Catholic Rectory at 120 South Sixth Street.

The three-bay Rowe-Brewington House at 422 North Fifth Street lost its cupola in the 1920's but the windows from it are still stacked in the attic. This house has some interior details from a remodeling early in this century, including Ionic columns between the two parlors. The porch also seems to date from that period, as do many in the district, apparently a popular time for modernizing that feature.

The Second Empire style, while not as popular as the Italianate in Hannibal, nevertheless left three notable houses here. The David Dubach House at 221 North Fifth Street is in plan an Italian Villa type, but it also has a bell-cast mansard roof; originally the off-center tower was mansarded as well. Parquet floors, fine mantels and other original features can be seen on the main floor of this house. At 502 North Fifth Street, the G.W. Storrs House is the familiar three bays by two with galleried rear wing. Apparently one story with mansard in front, it is actually two full stories on the side, where the ground drops abruptly. Both these houses date from around 1870. The Joseph Rowe House at 306 North Sixth Street dates from at least fifteen years later, when the style was already somewhat passe. In contrast to the Storrs House, it exaggerates its height by placing the entrance at the highest point on the site. Only three bays wide, it is six bays deep with an ell. It has been exceptionally well maintained, its mansard still displaying varicolored slates set in patterns.

Judge Rowe, whose tastes seem to have been rather conservative, also built the Italianate house next door to his own at 308 North Sixth Street and also the two rental properties at 302 and 306 North Seventh Street in 1885, somewhat Eastlakean but still in the basically Italianate mold of the Robert Brewington House of 1865 next door at 308 North Seventh. In the same year, James Plowman was building his own new house at 300 North Seventh Street, similar in massing to its neighbors but stylistically reflecting the innovations of Richard Norman Shaw and other progenitors of the Queen Anne style. It has irregular massing, an additional dormer on the south side, and shingles and coffering in the hipped gables, contrasting with the dark red brick below. The richly detailed porch with paired Ionic columns was added about 1900 and increases the interest of this well-preserved row of four houses.

Most of the later Queen Anne houses in this Central Park Historic District were frame in contrast to the earlier preference for brick. The most outstanding of them is the W.H. Pettibone House at 313 North Fifth Street. This house was built about 1889 on the site of an earlier house that had been occupied by Mr. Pettibone's father, and possibly the present rear wing was retained from the earlier structure. The new front part combines clapboard siding with areas of shaped shingles and has at the southeast corner a semicircular tower with a nipple-shaped roof. A broad porch with spindle frieze wraps around the front (east) and south sides of the house. Inside, the hallway and front parlors have elaborate Queen Anne mantels and other appointments. The dining room and library appear to date from a remodeling of about 1900, the former having neoclassical paneling and columns flanking a large north stained-glass window, while the latter is a museum-quality example of the more innovative style of the period that is called Arts and Crafts, Craftsman, or Stickley, complete with matching leaded windows and bookcase doors and glazed tile fireplace surround, all in stylized plant motifs.

At the corner of the same block, 301 North Fifth Street was built about 1895 for Pettibone's younger brother Albert. It is smaller but related in style, its facade focusing on a square three-story tower. It too has been little altered, as is true of the similar house built for Mrs. Benton Coontz at 401 North Sixth Street. The latter retains the characteristic Queen Anne motif of the sunburst set in the pediment over the porch entry.

Smaller but characteristic Queen Anne houses in the Central Park Historic District include the Thomas D. Wilson House at 319 North Sixth, whose nip-roofed front porch still has a trellis with climbing roses; the story-and-a-half Harry K. Logan House at 416 North Sixth; the too-story Long-Schweitzer House at 317 North Fourth, which still has its gas outlets, and the cottage-like Craig-Welsh House at 616 Center Street. The predominance of frame construction in this style has meant that Queen Anne houses have been more subject than others to disfiguring external alterations, but even these houses have often retained significant details inside or under various commercial siding materials. The most dramatic case of this is the Carter-Frazer House at 210 North Fifth Street, now a featureless mass of composition stone, grey and pink asbestos shingles, and a fiberglass porch roof on metal poles. The interior, however, has extensive oak woodwork that has been refinished by the current owners, including sliding doors, parquet floors, and elaborate fireplaces with glazed tile surrounds and beveled mirrors. Less seriously disfigured Queen Anne houses are the William T. Jackson House at 501 North Fifth, the William T. Combs House at 511 North Fifth, the William B. Curd House at 307 North Seventh, and the Joseph Brinkman House at 312 North Seventh. All these houses could be returned to their original appearance by sensitive restoration.

By the turn of the century, most new construction in the Central Park Historic District was multi-family, but a few notable single-family houses continued to be built. John M. Patton (1837-1898), the builder and architect who has been mentioned earlier in connection with the John RoBards House,[5] did one of his last houses in 1895 for J.O. Green at 214 North Fifth Street. It is another house with beautiful oak woodwork, but the facade, only two bays wide, is ambitiously Chateauesque, faced with rusticated limestone. Elaborate oak paneling around the entry has two pointed arches set in a round arch, windows have diamond-shaped panes, and the dormers have pyramidal roofs topped by finials.

Thomas and Robert Robinson, twin brothers, built an unusual double house in 1902. It has a symmetrical elevation of a porch between two semicircular bows, but its interior is asymmetrical, with one entrance at 201 South Fifth Street and the other at 503 Church Street. Original shingles on the upper floor have been covered with aluminum siding, but overall the house retains the massing and details of the Shingle style.

Beginning about 1910 a number of houses were built in the Central Park Historic District which reflect the influence of the Prairie style in their simple lines and lack of applied ornament, although they do not have the low proportions and advanced planning associated with Frank Lloyd Wright. Most are brick and show exceptionally fine masonry and joinery. The Herman Reidel House at 513 Center Street is known to have been built by Albert Andris, and perhaps his standards had a salutary effect on other contractors. Other houses of this type are the Bourn-Norton House at 110 North Sixth, which is brick below and stucco above; the yellow-brick Dr. Guss House at 309 North Fifth; the Burns-Hogan House at 400 North Fifth; the George M. Long House at 222 South Fifth; the Vincent E. Jessup House at 511 North Street; the John Fusco House, 116 South Seventh; and the two-family Draudt-Digel House at 521 Church. Related to these is the Florence Grisso House at 310 North Fifth, a "shirtwaist" house of the Kansas City type, stucco below and shingled above, built as a two-family structure.

C. Albert Trowbridge built a house in about 1925 at 501 North Street in what has come to be called the Period style of the 1920's, deriving its broad proportions, three-bay symmetry and hipped roof from the English Georgian, but unmistakably of the Twenties, in spite of the small-pane windows and pedimented door frame.

The last noteworthy house in the Central Park Historic District was designed by Arnold Baschen in 1937 for William C. Henn at 215 North Fifth Street. Henn was a dealer in electrical appliances, and he wanted an all-electric house based on a "home of tomorrow" he had seen in a recent magazine.[6] The resulting two-story, L-shaped brick structure has stripes of contrasting yellow brick, a flat roof with parapet, and glass brick windows, all features of the Art Deco style.

Beginning about 1880, double houses and other multifamily structures began to be built in this district, almost all of them by wealthy persons already residing nearby and mostly intended to appeal to professionals and other upper-middle-class tenants. John RoBards, for example, built an Italianate double house at 221-223 North Sixth Street next door to his own home. It has paired central doors flanked by two-story bay windows. At the same time, Robert Bridgford built a six-bay Italianate double house for his son at 314-316 North Fifth Street. Frederick Dubach, who lived in the much-altered house at 300 North Fifth, built at least seven rental properties, beginning with individual Italianate houses at 618 Center Street, 403 North Fifth Street and 409 North Fifth Street, and continuing with Queen Anne multi-family structures at 313 North Fourth, 417-419 Hill Street, 415-417 Bird Street, and 615-615-1/2 Bird Street. His son built the most interesting of these in 1910 at 609-611 Bird Street. It is brick, two stories, with a five-bay facade consisting of a central entry flanked by hip-roof additional dormers set in a high hipped roof, and corner verandahs. The Robinsons built a brick structure at 212-214 South Fifth Street near their own house, recalling its design with semicircular bows flanking the central porch. Jefferson B. Brown, the son of J.B. Brown, built 402-404 North Fourth diagonally opposite his father's house, in a Beaux-Arts style of yellow brick decorated with heavy stone lintels and a garlanded frieze. The largest building in this style was the Branham flats at 701-707 Church Street, built about 1904 by Thomas Branham, who lived at 116 South Seventh Street nearby. It has Ionic half-columns flanking the doors, decorative tabernacles on the second story, and a parapet above a dentiled cornice. Contrasting with this white-painted design is the contemporary Shingle style double house built at 404-406 North Fifth Street by Maria Burns, who lived next door. It has a dark-red brick lower story with patterned shingles on the second story and front gables. The most pretentious of these structures is the large brick structure at 220-222 South Sixth Street built in 1908 by Charles Anderson, the son-in-law of Robert Bridgford and then occupant of the Bridgford house across the street. It centers on a giant Ionic portico only three columns wide, an odd number by classical rules but appropriate to the double entrance it frames . Other double houses worthy of note are those at 611-613 Church Street (c.1908) and 211-213 North Seventh Street (1904), which are nearly identical in elevation, and the group of three adjacent, similar structures at 123-125 North Seventh Street, 707 Center Street and 709-711 Center, Street all built in 1910.

The process of residents adding new buildings to the neighborhood may be seen to have culminated in the construction of the John Garth Memorial Library, built in 1901 by Mrs. Garth at 200 South Fifth Street, across from her own hone. It is an outstanding small example of the Beaux Arts style, designed by the St. Louis firm of Mauran, Russell and Garden. The L-shaped two-story yellow-brick building confronts the corner of Church Street with a semicircular Ionic colonnade and full entablature, while its parapet is enlivened by a rounded broken pediment, balls and urns, and a small central obelisk. The side elevations are enriched with rusticated corners, stone escutcheons, and panels inscribed with the names of Classical and English authors. The lobby is circular in plan, with dark oak paneling and a mosaic floor centering on a large brass memorial roundel. Two reading rooms on the main floor and three meeting rooms upstairs retain most of their original fittings, including their fireplaces.

Seven new buildings have been erected in the Central Park Historic District since its period of significance, and another four have been so drastically altered as to have lost their original significance. All are commercial structures located on or close to Broadway, the main thoroughfare passing through the district.

In summary, the Central Park Historic District contains a concentration of notable buildings, many of which would be individually eligible for the National Register on the basis of architectural merit, but which gain in significance by their proximity to each other and by their setting among lesser buildings of complimentary date, scale and style.

Significance

The buildings in the Central Park Historic District represent three major periods of Hannibal's development.[7] The first was the period before the Civil War, the "white town drowsing in the sunshine of a summer's morning" that was immortalized by Mark Twain.[8] Many of the people he wrote about lived in this part of town, and several of their houses have survived. After the Civil War, the lumber industry caused Hannibal to boom. Owners of lumberyards, lawyers, and retail merchants prospered, and many of them built ostentatious homes in this part of town. By the turn of the century, the public image of the city was brought up to date with a new City Hall and Public Library, but at the same time the exclusivity of the neighborhood was lessened as many of the old families built comfortably large multi-family dwellings on subdivided lots nearby. The neighborhood has not been substantially altered since that time except as it has become less fashionable and less well maintained. Recognition in the National Register of Historic Places may play an important part in reversing this decline.

Hannibal was laid out in a conventional grid pattern by Moses Bates in 1819, but it did not develop to any extent until 1836, when it was replatted by Stephen Glascock. In 1837, the place was incorporated as a town, and incorporation as a city followed in 1845. Glascock presented Block 24 in his plat "to be used for the sole behoof of the city as a public ground."[9] This provision, and its distance from the original business district, probably saved Central Park from becoming the site of a courthouse, the usual fate of town squares in the Midwest. In those days the center of activity was the intersection of Main (Second) Street and Hill Street, now the center of the Mark Twain Historic District. Today that area is entirely commercial and the greatest concentration of early residential structures is within the Central Park Historic District, which was early considered to be a "pleasant and healthy portion of the city."[10] Perhaps the oldest brick house in town is 303 North Fourth Street, at the corner of Bird Street. It was built sometime between 1834 and 1845 by Theophilus Stone (1804-1883), who operated the first ferryboat here in 1831. Another early one is 322 North Street, home of Thomas Van Swearingen, first judge of the Court of Common Pleas.

Mark Twain wrote about many of these early residents.[11] He left Hannibal in 1853 but visited on five subsequent occasions and kept in touch through letters. The homes of many of these people have only recently been identified. Dr. James Rackcliffe (1795-1860), whose three sons all suffered from insanity, lived at 400 North Fourth Street. This house is also known as the birthplace of James Carroll Beckwith (1852-1917), a well-known portraitist of the era, who became a friend of Samuel Clemens in later life.[12] Across the street, 411 and 413 North Fourth Street were built by brothers of Laura Hawkins, the model for Becky Thatcher. She herself (1837-1928) died at 210 North Fifth Street, the home of her son Judge Louis E. Frazer. The family of Margaret Koenemann, another schoolmate, owned the "tenement" or rented house at 307-309 Bird Street. Artemisia Briggs (1831-1910) turned down Sam Clemens's immature proposal of marriage and instead married William J. Marsh, who built for her the house at 520 Center Street. William T. League (1832-1370), another childhood friend, bought the house at 112 South Fifth Street in 1851, while next door at 116 South Fifth Street lived the Stephens family; Edwin Stephens (b.1834) briefly joined the confederate army of General Sterling Price in company with Clemens.

In the older generation was Joseph Sylvester Buchanan (b.1806), who may have built the house at 214 South Sixth Street, and who published some early newspapers in Hannibal, giving Orion Clemens, Mark Twain's brother, his start in the business. Dr. Hugh Meredith (1806-1864) lived at 212 South Sixth Street; he attended John Marshall Clemens, Mark Twain's father, in his last illness in 1847. He had known the Clemens family in Florida, Missouri, before they moved to Hannibal, as had the family of Benton Coontz (1838-1892), who became mayor in 1877. He lived at 610 Hill Street and at the end of his life built the Queen Anne house at 401 North Sixth Street. Zachariah Draper was an intimate of John Marshall Clemens, a storekeeper, and the town's postmaster. He subdivided the west side of Seventh Street in 1853 and owned much other land around town as well; 210 North Fourth Street and 513 Church Street were probably his tenements, while 311 Bird Street was possibly occupied by members of his own family. Even more prosperous was Robert F. Lakenan (1820-1883), who owned and may have lived briefly in 403 North Fourth Street. He sold the house in 1857 to John Lentner Lathrop, who like him was an officer in the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad. The house is thus associated with three towns in Missouri: Lakenan and Lentner in Shelby County, and Lathrop in Clinton County, all founded by the railroad. Another of the "three 'rich' men"[13] in town was Col. Archibald Robards (1787-1862), a flour miller and mayor in 1846 and 1854, who lived at 501 North Fourth Street. His flour brought glory to Hannibal by winning the First Prize at the New York World's Fair in 1853. His son John (1838-1925), a lawyer, built the fine Italianate house at 215 North Sixth Street, where Mark Twain visited him. He pretentiously changed the spelling of his last name to RoBards, inspiring Twain in "The Private History of a Campaign that Failed" to write about a Dunlap who became d'un Lap.[14] John RoBards got part of his wealth from his father-in-law, John B. Helm, a Kentucky lawyer who arrived in Hannibal in 1852 and soon prospered as a building contractor, railroad director, and judge of the Court of Common Pleas. Three houses he built for members of his family still stand at 415, 417 and 419 North Sixth Street. In Kentucky he had known Abraham Lincoln, who visited him in Hannibal in 1859.

None of the public buildings from Mark Twain's era have survived, but two churches in the Central Park Historic District date from the 1850's. The Immaculate Conception parish was established in 1851, and the church was completed in 1854. It became a chapel when a larger building was purchased in 1880. Trinity Church still serves the Episcopal parish formed in 1845. The building's cornerstone was laid in 1858 and the completed sanctuary was dedicated in 1860, but with the outbreak of the Civil War, the congregation was unable to pay for it. The building was sold for debt, and only the efforts of Rector J.W. Dunn to raise money in the east enabled it to be redeemed.[15] In 1866 Dunn bought 322 North Street, the old Van Swearingen house.

The Civil War was highly disruptive to Hannibal's life. Most residents were Confederate sympathizers; before his untimely death, Dr. Marion Brown (1824-1861) flew a Confederate flag from his office window in defiance of the occupying Union troops, protected by his status as the only doctor in town. Brown's widow opened his house at 301 North Sixth Street to boarders, and in 1864 it became the birthplace of Admiral Robert E. Coontz, the son of Benton Coontz. Admiral Coontz (d.1935) rose to become Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. fleet after World War I and is one of Hannibal's favorite sons.[16] This house was probably built with money brought back from California, where many Hannibalians had sought their fortunes during the Gold Rush. Marion Brown's brother James Burket Brown (1827-1915), another fortunate '49er, invested his proceeds in a drugstore, which is now the oldest continuous business in Hannibal. He built 121 South Fifth Street just before the Civil War and 321 North Fourth Street about ten years later. Both are large Italianate affairs. J.B. Brown served as mayor from 1882 to 1885 and again in 1888 and founded a family that was prominent for several generations.

By the 1860's, houses the size of J.B. Brown's were no longer unusual in Hannibal. Beginning almost as soon as the railroad had opened to the west, and expanding rapidly after the war, the lumber industry transformed the town. Hannibal's position on the great river enabled it to capitalize on rafts of logs that were floated down from Wisconsin and Minnesota by sawing them into lumber and shipping the product westward. Many of the proprietors built houses commensurate with their prosperity in this district, which was fashionable but in easy distance of their sawmills and lumberyards along Bear Creek a few blocks to the south. It was also close to their increasingly important financial interests downtown.

Both partners of Rowe and Toll lived in this neighborhood as did both of Hearne, Herriman & Co., and D. Dubach & Co; Hannibal lumber and J.J. Cruikshank were also based here. Another lumberman was James Barrack, who built 200 South Seventh Street in 1867, a few years before his death. Joseph Rowe (1812-1898) had two houses in the neighborhood: 422 North Fifth Street, built in 1870 and later given to his daughter Clara Brewington, and 306 North Sixth Street, built about 1886 after Rowe's return from a few years' residence in St. Louis.[17] Rowe also built the twin Italianate houses at 302 and 306 North Seventh Street and the apartment at 314-316 North Sixth Street. He was mayor in 1881 and several times judge. His partner Alfred Toll bought the house at 221 South Fifth Street. He later formed Badger Lumber with John Ure, who lived at 407 North Sixth Street. Frank P. Hearne (1827-1895) built 300 North Sixth Street about 1871. John Herriman's own house has been replaced, but those of his son Edward (1858-1897) at 318 North Seventh Street and his son-in-law William B. Curd (1849-1916) at 307 North Seventh Street survive; the two younger men formed a successor firm which failed in 1896, contributing to Edward Herriman's early death. David Dubach (1826-1897) and his brother Frederick (1828-1909) lived diagonally opposite each other at 221 and 300 North Fifth Street, respectively. Children of Swiss immigrants, they also ran a contracting firm which built a large number of rental properties in the neighborhood as well as the Park Theatre at 121 North Fifth Street (now the Masonic Temple), which drew nationally-known stars such as Lillian Russell and Victor Herbert from its opening in 1882 until its closing in 1924.

The Cruikshank lumber firm went through three generations beginning when John J. Cruikshank, Sr., moved to Hannibal from Alton, Illinois, in 1856. He built an Italianate house at 121 South Sixth Street, while his son J.J., Junior, built a larger and more lavish one at 300 South Fifth Street, both about 1865. The younger Cruikshank (d.1924) later built "Rockcliffe," the largest and most lavishly appointed house in northeast Missouri, nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. The Hannibal Lumber Company was formed about 1880 by Frank Hearne and A.W. Pettibone. Pettibone's sons both built Queen Anne houses on North Fifth Street, A.W. Junior, at #301 and W.B. at #313. Wilson B. Pettibone (d.1946) was one of Hannibal's greatest philanthropists, giving among other things over 240 acres for Riverview Park and constructing the Laura J. Pettibone School for the public school system.

The general prosperity brought to Hannibal by lumbering carried over to other businesses as well, enabling people like the lawyer Alfred Lamb to build houses like his large Italianate one at 521 Bird Street that could hold their own in the increasingly prestigious neighborhood. Perhaps the most successful of these businessmen was John H. Garth, Jr. (1837-1899). The son of a successful tobacco merchant and brother of David Garth who built 422 North Fourth Street, he dealt in lumber through the firm of Davis, Bockee and Garth, banking as a founder of the Farmers and Merchants Bank and the Missouri Guarantee Savings and Building Association, and quarrying as president of the Hannibal Lime Company. His country house, "Woodside," on the outskirts of Hannibal in Rails County, is already on the National Register of Historic Places. His town house was at 213 South Fifth Street, and in 1902 his widow, the former Helen Kerchival, entertained Mark Twain there. She commemorated her husband by donating the upper stage of the tower of Trinity Church and the outstanding Beaux Arts building for the free public library. Garth's associates in the Hannibal Lime Company were the Hunger brothers, William A. (1838-1911), who built 207 North Fifth Street about 1870, and Lyman P. (1836-1906), who later bought the Lamb house at 521 Bird Street, on the opposite corner of the same block.

Henry C. Schultz, who built 514 North Street about 1870, was another businessman who had a hand in the lumber business while his main concern was his furniture store, which still survives as Avery-Burch. Other prominent early businessmen in this district included James T. Davis of 312 North Fifth Street, captain and part-owner of the ferry to Illinois; Robert Brewington (1808-1900) of 308 North Seventh Street, who operated a harness and saddlery business, held many public offices, and was the foreman of the U.S. grand jury in St. Louis which brought to light the whiskey ring scandal; James W. Plowman of 300 North Seventh Street, who founded insurance and real estate businesses that are still operated by his descendants; and G.W. Storrs (1830-1894), proprietor of the Planters Hotel and founder of the Storrs-Hinton Ice and Coal Company. Storrs built 502 North Fifth Street, and thirty years later his son built 412 North Street next door.

In 1874, Robert and Thomas Robinson, twin brothers born in 1848 in Ireland, organized Robinson Brothers painting and paper hanging, another firm that is still in business. About 1904 they built the unusual double house at 201 South Fifth Street and 503 Church Street. At the other end of Fifth Street, 512-514 North Fifth, Albert and Rudolph Eichenberger had built another double house about ten years earlier. In spite of their names, they were unrelated but were both Swiss immigrants, partners in a tobacco firm, and were married to sisters.

The 200 block of South Sixth Street had a particular concentration of prominent businessmen and public officials, beginning with dry goods store owner Thomas K. Collins (1822-1885) at #203; he was mayor in 1874. At #209 lived Patrick Farrell, a saloon keeper who had enough success to build a prominent commercial building at Main and Broadway. Robert Bridgford (1819-1878), a grocer, built #217, and it remained the property of his descendants until this decade. On the east side of the street, Edward Chevalier, a carpenter, built the chalet-style #208 about 1880 and sold it to Edgar E. Bay, a druggist, six years later. Next door at #210 lived Wilbur F. Chamberlain, postmaster from 1880 to 1887 during the construction of the new (now Old) Federal Building and mayor in 1893. From 1881 to 1892, #212 was the home of Gilchrist Porter (1817-1894), U. S. Congressman of the Whig party in 1852 and 1854 and three times circuit court judge, one of Hannibal's most respected citizens. During these same years, #214 was the home of Chauncy Harris, a confectioner and father-in-law of one of the younger Cruikshanks.

At 300 South Sixth Street rises the imposing bulk of the former Immaculate Conception Church, now shorn of its spire and used as a bowling club. It was built in 1876 as the Congregational Church and was at that time the most prominent in Hannibal. In 1880 the building was sold to the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic parish, and it served them until the 1950's. In addition to their chapel, the parish also built an imposing Italianate rectory at 120 South Sixth Street. Other churches were prospering during this period; both the Baptist Church at 111 North Fifth and the Presbyterian at 120 North Sixth built new buildings in the 1870's and then replaced them with larger ones in the 1890's, a process that the Park Methodist Church had already undergone between the 1840's and 1881.

In the 1890's, shoe manufacturing had begun to replace lumbering as the mainstay of the economy, and the shoe factories were actually built over some of the former lumber yards. The biggest was the Bluff City Shoe Company, which began as the cobbler shop of John Logan, Jr. In 1892 he bought the old High School at 418-420 North Sixth Street, which had been built in the late 1860's and converted to residential use in 1886. His brother Harry built 416 North Sixth Street at the same time, and his son Walter built 513 North Street to the rear about 1915. The company merged with International Shoe in 1925.

By the early twentieth century, society and business indisputably centered on Central Park. It was a stage for civic events and an integral part of the business district. "To get the most out of Saturday night, one had to at least visit the dime stores and Central Park."[18] It was the natural location for the largest movie palace in town, the Orpheum, which opened in 1922 and effectively killed the old Park Theatre. Fraternal organizations had already located here, notably the Elks at 411 Broadway, and the "Mozart Hall," a public meeting room at 407-409 Broadway was built as early as 1871. A new phase of social activity began with the organization of the Labinnah Club in 1901. It was in effect a downtown country club, formed "for the promotion and enjoyment of social intercourse, good fellowship, innocent diversion, recreation and amusement." The club, whose name was Hannibal spelled backward, bought the old hotel at 517-519 Broadway and remodeled it to accommodate a bowling alley, reception and game rooms, and a grand ballroom. The membership, largely resident in this district, was so prominent that it was listed in toto in the history of the period.[19] Doctors found Central Park the ideal location, and many of them built their offices around it, including Dr. E.A. Porter at 412 Center Street in 1936, Dr. Francis E. Sultzman at 115 North Fifth Street in 1933, Dr. Edward Hornback at 500 Broadway in 1908, Dr. Lewis H. Tutt at 106 North Sixth Street in 1905, and Dr. James J. Bourn at 110 North Sixth Street about 1920. The DeGaris Building at 504-510 Broadway was built in 1900 specifically to provide additional space for doctors.

The civic development of Hannibal was in large measure due to the generosity of residents of this district. Riverview Park and the Public Library have already been mentioned in this regard. The hospital was given by Aaron R. Levering and the Catholic high school by Anna and Mary McCooey, whose families lived on Fifth Street in houses now gone. The YMCA building at the corner of Fifth and Center was largely the result of George W. Dulany's challenge grant of three-sevenths of the cost. The resulting building "would be a credit and an honor to any city."[20] The YMCA now plans to relocate. Perhaps the most unusual such gift was that of Henrietta Myers, widow of a German tavern owner, who in 1903 bequeathed the ground at the corner of Fourth and Broadway for a new City Hall. A bond issue in 1909 made the present building possible.

The new City Hall was built with the best materials and by the best architects available. It reflected the residents' pride in their city. Since its opening in 1910, however, much of that attitude has been eroded, especially in relation to the Central Park Historic District. Now the old neighborhood is once more being seen as a valuable asset.

Endnotes

  1. Dates and owners of buildings in this district have been established by an inventory conducted in 1979 and 1980 under a grant from the state's Office of Historic Preservation. More detailed information on each structure in this district is filed with that office in Jefferson City, Missouri.
  2. Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Scribners, 1931), Vol. IV, pp.394-395.
  3. Hannibal Courier-Post, October 5, 1909 and June 30, 1938. These and other newspaper articles cited in this nomination were located by Roberta Hagood. Her notes are on file in the Hannibal Public Library.
  4. R. I. Holcombe, History of Marion County, Missouri (St. Louis: E.F. Perkins, 1884; reprinted 1979 with index by Walsworth Publishing Co., Marceline, Mo.).
  5. Hannibal Morning Journal , February 4, 1898.
  6. Reminiscences of Ida C. Henn, widow of the builder.
  7. Three histories of Hannibal have been printed, the earliest by R. I, Holcombe in History of Marion County, Missouri (St. Louis: E.F, Perkins, 1884); reprinted with Index in 1979 (Marceline, Mo.: Walsworth Publishing Company); A Mirror of Hannibal, edited and published by C.P. Greene (Hannibal, 1905), with a historical section by Thomas H. Bacon; J. Hurley Hagood and Roberta Hagood, The Story of Hannibal (Hannibal: Standard Printing Company, 1976). These sources form the basis for this nomination, together with the historic inventory undertaken in 1979 and 1980 under grants from the state Office of Historic Preservation.
  8. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Life on the Mississippi (New York: Airmont Publishing Co., 1965), p.33.
  9. Holcombe, p. 940.
  10. Missouri Courier. June 21, 1849. Reference provided by Ruth Anton.
  11. Aside from Mark Twain's fictional representations of Hannibal in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, the town figures prominently in Autobiography of Mark Twain, ed. by Charles Neider (New York: Harper, 1959), and notes published as "Villagers of 1840-3" in Mark Twain's Hannibal, Huck and Tom, ed. by Walter Blair (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), pp.23-40. Blair has also provided a biographical directory to these notes, pp.343-369 of the same volume. Another important scholarly source is Dixon Wecter, Sam Clemens of Hannibal (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1952).
  12. Charles Van Ravenswaay, ed., Missouri: A Guide to the "Show Me" State (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1941), p.222.
  13. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), "Villagers," p.35.
  14. Blair, p. 365.
  15. Trinity Parish, Hannibal, Missouri. (Hannibal, Mix.: Trinity Parish, 1945).
  16. Clark G. Reynolds, Famous American Admirals (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1978), pp.79-81; Robert E. Coontz, From the Mississippi to the Sea (New York: Dorance and Co., 1930), p.18; Van Ravenswaay, p.223.
  17. Portrait and Biographical Record of Marion, Rails and Pike Counties, Missouri (Chicago: C.O. Owen & Co., 1895), pp.133-135. This volume provides information on many other Hannibalians of the era.
  18. Hagood, p. 156.
  19. Greene, pp. 235-238.
  20. J. B. Jeffries, "A City of Monuments, Memorials and Noted Men" in "Speeches Delivered at Annual Dinner of the State Historical Society, January 21, 1927, The Missouri Historical Review, Vol. XXI, No.3 (April 1927), pp.337-341.

References

Blair, Walter, ed. Mark Twain's Hannibal, Huck and Tom. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.

Clemens, Samuel (Mark Twain). Autobiography of Mark Twain, ed. by Charles Neider. New York: Harper. 1959.

Clemens, Samuel (Mark Twain. "Villagers of 1840-3," Mark Twain's Hannibal, Huck and Tom, ed. by Walter Blair. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.

Greene, C. P., ed. A Mirror of Hannibal. Hannibal: C.P. Greene, 1905.

Hagood, J. Hurley, and Hagood, Roberta. The Story of Hannibal. Hannibal: Standard Printing Company, 1976.

Holcombe, R. I. History of Marion County, Missouri. St. Louis: E.F. Perkins, 1884.

Portrait and Biographical Record of Marion, Rails and Pike Counties, Missouri. Chicago: C.O. Owen & Co., 1895.

Van Ravenswaay, Charles, ed. Missouri: A Guide to the "Show Me" State. New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1941.

Wecter, Dixon. Sam Clemens of Hannibal. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1952

† Esley Hamilton, consultant, Hannibal Arts Council, Central Park Historic District, Hannibal, Missouri, nomination document, 1980, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Central Park Historic District Map

Street Names
4th Street North • 5th Street North • 5th Street South • 6th Street North • 6th Street South • 7th Street North • 7th Street South • Bird Street • Broadway • Center Street • Church Street • Hill Street • Lyon Street • North Street • Route 36

**Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. You should independently verify any information you use for decision making.
Copyright © 1997-2016 • The Gombach Group • www.gombach.com • 215-295-6555 • 110413 • Privacy