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Stafford-Olive Historic District

Washington City, Franklin County, MO

The Stafford-Olive Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]

The Stafford-Olive Historic District is a residential neighborhood which covers roughly 30 acres of land. The district sits just west of the commercial center of town, and abuts both of the existing National Register Historic Districts in Washington; the Tibbe Historic District is due east, and the Downtown Washington Historic District is northeast. Although geographically close, those districts contain different types of properties. The Downtown District is for the most part a commercial area, while the Tibbe District contains a cohesive collection of large high style residences. The working class dwellings of the Stafford-Olive neighborhood represent a distinctly different grouping of historic resources. The Stafford-Olive district stretches along Stafford and Olive Streets, between West Second and West Fifth Streets. The houses throughout the area tend to be built close together, and set close to the street. This is particularly true of the older houses along Stafford Street; many are located no more than five or ten feet from the street, and several are directly on the sidewalk.

The houses of the neighborhood range from very small antebellum Missouri-German dwellings to multi-story Victorian residences; modest dwellings predominate. There are also a large number of early twentieth century houses, including many highly intact Bungalows.

The Stafford-Olive Historic District includes two of the town's earliest thoroughfares, Stafford and West Fifth Streets, as well as several small subdivisions which were platted in the 1850's. Much of the land within the district boundaries was never included in formal subdivisions. Half of the lots along Stafford Street, and almost all of the land along Olive was simply divided into individual lots rather than split up as part of a formal subdivision. The property divisions now in use were largely in place by the early part of this century. Most of the lots are rectangular, and relatively narrow. The topography is slightly hilly, with a general slope to the north.

The southern part of the district includes most of the 500 block of West Fifth Street, as well as the four and five hundred blocks of Fremont, which is just north of Fifth. Stafford Street runs north and south, along the west half of the district. The properties on Olive Street, which runs northeast from Horn Street, constitute most of the eastern part of the district. The northern border runs along West Second and West Third Streets; both contain houses within the district boundaries. Within those boundaries, development occurred in a random fashion, and nearly every street in the neighborhood has a diverse mix of architectural styles and types. It is not at all unusual to find antebellum properties side by side with 1920's Bungalows. West Second Street is the only exception; all six district properties on that street were built in the 1920's and 1930's. As a group, the houses in the area reflect general trends in the development of Washington. Houses were scattered throughout the neighborhood by the time of the Civil War, and new dwellings were added at a steady pace for most of the next century. The neighborhood was almost completely developed by the late 1930's; only a few houses in the district are less than 50 years old. Roughly 17% of the houses in the district were built before 1870, which is the end of the first period of development. Stafford Street in particular contains a good number of antebellum residences, just over half of the district total. All of the district was within the city limits by the time of the 1877 Atlas map, and most of the subdivisions in the area had been platted by that time.

District houses built during that first period of development strongly reflect the German heritage of their builders. All of the pre-1871 buildings in the district are Missouri-German, and all except two still look much as they did in 1870. (One heavy timber building has been altered, and the other house was remodeled in the early twentieth century.) Those early Missouri-German buildings all have brick walls and side-facing gable roofs; most are one or one and one-half stories tall, with symmetrical facades and dentil cornices. Property types include central passage, side entry, and double pen vernacular Missouri German houses. One of the best examples of the Missouri-German building tradition for that period is the one story brick house at 414 Stafford Street, which was built ca. 1858. That house has paired end chimneys linked by a parapet wall, as well as a dentil cornice and jack arches above the windows.

The houses of the second period of development, which were built between 1871 and 1904, exhibit a slight mix of the Missouri-German building tradition and mainstream American architectural styles, although Missouri-German traditions continued to be dominant. This was a relatively slow period of development in the area; only 15, or about 12%, of the houses in the district were built at this time. Of those, 11 were Missouri-German and 3 utilized Victorian styling to varying degrees. All of the Victorian dwellings were built towards the end of that period. Basic Missouri-German characteristics and house types continued to dominate; the major change was that windows of the Missouri-German houses were topped exclusively with segmental arches, as opposed to the mix of flat and arched tops found on the earlier houses. It was also during this time that one of the largest houses in the district was built; the two and one-half story brick Queen Anne style house at 502 West Third dates to ca. 1900.

The third period of development, 1905-1950, was marked by a city-wide building boom. The majority of the houses in the district date to that period. This is a function of both the increased rate of construction at that time, and the fact that the houses built then have been around fewer years. Fully 71% of the houses in the district were built between 1905 and 1950.

Houses in the area which were constructed before the 1920's include traditional Missouri-German forms and more modern popular house types. The latter include the Foursquare, the Gabled Ell, and the Narrow Gabled Ell, which appears to be an urban version of the more common Gabled Ell. All of those forms were popular with mail order house and plan companies, and reflect national trends in architectural development. After about 1920, the nationally prominent Bungalow house type dominated new construction in the district. Later houses also include a few good examples of Period House types, such as the Tudor and Cotswold Cottage revivals. Washington's strong Missouri-German building tradition did not, however, completely disappear. Red brick walls and segmental arched windows can be found on many of the Bungalows which were built in the 1920's and 1930's. One such example of that combination is the red brick Bungalow at 310 Olive Street, which dates to ca. 1920. Brick continued to be a popular wall material for all property types; more than half of the district houses built in Period two have brick walls. Overall, fully two-thirds of the properties in the district have exterior brick walls. The district continues to reflect the long period of neighborhood development, which covered nearly a full century. The random patterns of construction in the area have resulted in a well-mixed and diverse collection of historic houses. The neighborhood today looks very much as it did in the 1940's; more than 91% of the houses in the district are contributing resources. They offer a highly intact, representative cross section of Washington's historic residential architecture.


The neighborhood was for the most part developed by and for small business owners and working class families, and it appears today much as it did during the period of significance. It has always been a residential area, and it was among the earliest entirely residential neighborhoods in the city. By 1869, nearly all of the current streets were in place, and houses could be found scattered throughout the neighborhood. Development continued at a steady pace, and new houses were built within district boundaries during all three of the historical periods. As with many neighborhoods in the community, that development took place in a random fashion. Often, new houses were built next to and between older dwellings, and larger lots were subdivided to make way for new buildings. In several cases, that type of subdivision was done for other family members. Many of the properties in the neighborhood were occupied by the same family for decades, and in other cases, the same person or family owned several different houses in the district at the same time. The end result is a neighborhood with varied streetscapes and interwoven family and property histories.

The houses of the neighborhood are representative of cultural changes which took place in the community during the period of significance. Most of the earliest residents in the area were German-Americans, and many were in the construction industry. The houses they built are generally vernacular buildings which reflect the German heritage which was dominant in the city at the time. As the century progressed, mainstream cultural and architectural ideals became more popular locally, a development which is reflected in Victorian styling on several turn-of-the century residences in the district. The owners of the new houses in the neighborhood at the time were generally businessmen, most of whom worked in the nearby commercial center of town. (Now the Downtown Historic District.) Houses built near the end of the period of significance were like those in all other parts of the city, in that they utilized nationally prominent styles and types. Examples in the Stafford-Olive neighborhood tended to be relatively modest. Many of the neighborhood residents at that time operated small businesses; others undoubtedly worked at the International Shoe factory, which is just a few blocks west of Stafford Street.

The historic buildings of the district present a broad cross section of architectural styles and types, and as a group, they are representative of general trends of architectural development in Washington. The oldest houses in the district include some of the least altered vernacular Missouri-German houses in the city, and there are also a few intact Victorian dwellings which were built around the turn of the century. The most common 20th century house type in the neighborhood is the Bungalow, a house type which was nationally prominent at the time.

Contributing buildings in the area range in date from ca. 1858 to ca. 1949, and only a few dwellings in the district were built after that. The period of significance thus runs from ca. 1858 to ca. 1949. Overall, the buildings in the district exhibit a high level of integrity; 104 of the 113 houses are contributing. The neighborhood today looks much as it did in the early 20th century, and is significant as a representative example of a working class residential neighborhood in Washington.

The majority (more than two-thirds) of the houses in the district were built between 1905 and 1950. Like the rest of the town, the district experienced a significant building boom in the early decades of the twentieth century. This was a time of strong economic growth in Washington, spurred in part by the opening of the International Shoe Factory a few blocks west of Stafford Street in the early 1900's. Increased national communication networks and the growing use of automobiles also positively affected the local economy. New houses were constructed on all streets in the area, and by the 1940's, there were very few vacant lots in the district. The northeastern corner of the district saw a good deal of development at this time; nearly all of the houses near the intersection of Olive and W. Second and Third Streets were built after 1920.

Several of the houses built at this time were constructed by or for the offspring of earlier residents. A similar pair of large brick houses on West Third, for example, were built around 1910 for the sons of Frank Stumpe, August and William Stumpe. Those houses were built on lots divided from a nearly 2 acre parcel which the elder Stumpe had owned since before 1877. The Stumpe family also owned at least two houses on Stafford at the time, and family members often walked from one to another to share meals.

A more modest grouping of houses near the south end of the district is also said to have built by and for members of the same family. The houses at 504, 508, and 512 Fremont, all dating to around 1930, were reportedly built for members of the family of Bertha Mauntel, who lived in the ca. 1858 house at 503 Fremont at that time.

Many people lived in the neighborhood for decades. The house at 311 Olive Street, for example, was the home of Boehm family for more than thirty years. Many people liked the neighborhood so well that when they did move, it was to another house in the same area. There are several instances of the same person owning more than one house in the district over the years, and at least a dozen different families who owned multiple properties in the district. The area was also home to various local businessmen, and even one business; the Hoppe Oil Company building, a former gas station at the corner of Stafford and W. Fifth Streets, is the only non-residential building in the district. The ca. 1940's building on the lot today replaced one of similar size and orientation which was there in the 1920's. Also, at least one businessman in a related field lived in the district at this time; the house at 207 Olive Street was built for auto dealer Joseph Hellman around 1930, and he was still living there in the 1940's. Other businessmen living in the district include Martin Twelker, at 507 W. Fifth, who ran a bakery in 1923, and F. J. Rueter, at 504 W. Fifth, who was in the hotel and beverage business.

Architectural development followed citywide trends; most of the new houses utilized nationally prominent architectural styles and types. Property Types built in the district during this period include a few carry-overs from Periods I and II, including just a couple of turn of the century Missouri-German houses, and some Victorian dwellings, as well as several newer property types. New property types include the Foursquare and related Pyramid Square, the Bungalow, and several Period Revival Styles. Foursquares were the first of the newer types to be built; the first appeared about 1905, and the newest one dates to ca. 1914. Bungalows became quite popular around 1920 and dominated new construction into the 1930's. Period Revivals were used latest, there are Colonial Revival and Cotswold Cottage houses which date to the 1940's.

The styles and types of the houses built toward the end of the period of significance reflect national trends, but did not completely ignore local building traditions. Vestigal Missouri-German features can be found on many of those newer houses. Traditional characteristics include a continued preference for flat red brick walls, long after brick was used as a structural material, as well as the distinctive segmental arched window top. The historic buildings of the Stafford- Olive Historic District represent a blending of the old and new which is typical of the historic architecture of Washington.

Debbie Sheals, Consultant, Stafford-Olive Historic District, Franklin County, MO, nomination document, 1999, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Street Names
2nd Street West • 3rd Street West • 5th Street West • Fremont Street • Horn Street • Olive Street • Stafford Street