A Look at Missouri's Historic Homes


Article Tags:

culture , Art and History , home tour
Home tours show you how people lived in days gone by.
Author: Stephen Foutes
When it comes to historic home visits in Missouri, Ste. Genevieve is an ideal starting point. After all, homes in this French Colonial settlement date to the 1700s, making them some of the oldest west of the Mississippi River.

The circa 1792 Bolduc House Museum (named for its original owner, Louis Bolduc, a wealthy merchant) is a National Historic Landmark. Noted for its vertical-log construction and double-pitched roof, the home is decorated with 18th century furnishings, while exterior features include an herb garden and grape arbor.

Another circa 1792 home, the Bauvais-Amoureux House, has upright cedar log walls that are set directly into the earth, a method called poteaux-en-terre construction. This home is part of the Felix Valle House State Historic Site complex, which includes the 1818 Felix Valle House and the 1819 Shaw House.
About three hours north of Ste. Genevieve you’ll find two homes formerly occupied by one of the world’s most well-known authors. The Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site in tiny Florida, Mo., houses the two-room cabin where Samuel Clemens was born. Among its exhibits is a handwritten manuscript of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”

About 30 minutes to the northeast is Hannibal, the city that inspired much of Twain’s work and also the site of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum. The Clemens family home (1844-53) is a focal point of the museum, which encompasses five historic buildings. Exhibits include some of Twain’s personal effects, including his famous white jacket, his writing desk and the Oxford gown worn when he was given an honorary degree at Oxford University in 1907.

On the western side of Missouri, in Independence, are two examples of wealthy living in the mid-to-late 1800s. The Bingham-Waggoner Estate was built in 1852 by Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham and later owned by the Waggoner family, which operated a profitable flour mill. Today, the home contains many original furnishings and paintings.

The Vaile Mansion, built in 1881 by businessman Harvey Vaile, is the very definition of pre-1900 opulence. The 30-room mansion boasts a 48,000-gallon wine cellar, ceiling murals, hand-grained woodwork and fine furnishings, along with nine marble fireplaces.

Both Vaile Mansion and the Bingham-Waggoner estate offer tours from April-October, and again during the holiday season in November and December.

These are only a few of the many homes open for tours in Missouri, where you also have the chance to connect with author Laura Ingalls Wilder, artist Thomas Hart Benton and governors from Missouri’s past. Many communities have driving tours to showcase historic homes. In Carthage, for example, a driving tour takes you by seven private homes, depicting a variety of Victorian styles, built between 1870 and 1910.

Keep exploring VisitMO to learn about these historic home tours and others, and prepare to embrace Missouri’s history on your next getaway.

  Bolduc House Museum
The Louis Bolduc House was built in the first town in Missouri, around 1792, by one of the wealthiest ...

  Bauvais- Amoureux House
The Bauvais- Amoureux House was built circa 1792 by Jean Baptiste St. Gemme Bauvais. It overlooks Le ...

  Felix Valle House State Historic Site
This historic site includes three houses: the 1818 Federal-style Felix Valle House; the vertical-log, ...

  Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site
Located in Mark Twain State Park, off Route 107, this museum encloses the two-room cabin in which Samuel ...

  Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum
Discover how a young boy growing up in the small village of Hannibal became one of the world's most ...

  Bingham-Waggoner Estate
Built in 1852, along the 1846 alignment of the Santa Fe Trail, this estate was owned by George Caleb ...

  Vaile Mansion
This 30-room mansion, built in 1881 by frontier business tycoon Harvey Vaile, is recognized as one of ...

  Laura Ingalls Wilder Home & Museum
Come and visit...where the Little House books were written. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her beloved Little ...

  Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site
The Victorian stone house was the famous artist’s home from 1939 until his death in 1975. Benton ...

  Governor's Mansion
The mansion was constructed in 1871 as the official residence of Missouri's first family. The state's ...