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Our Home:  The B. Gratz Brown and Upschulte Houses

109 - 111 - 113 Madison Street

Calvin Gunn came to Jefferson City in 1826. He was appointed state printer by the legislature around 1826-1827. In 1837, he purchased the property now known as 111-113 Madison upon which was situated a two-story brick building, called a "tenement" on the tax rolls. The building housed his printing and newspaper business, the Jeffersonian Republican, and various tenants. In 1839, Mr. Gunn purchased the property now known as 109 Madison Street where he made his family residence.

Calvin and Elizabeth Gunn had eight children, two sons and six daughters. A daughter, Mary Hanson Gunn, was born in Jefferson City in 1841, and at age 17 married 32-year-old Benjamin Gratz Brown of St. Louis. Brown, a Kentuckian by birth, studied law at Yale University and practiced in St. Louis, served as editor of the Missouri Democrat in St. Louis, in the Missouri House of Representatives in 1852, in the United States Senate 1863-1867, then returned to Missouri and was elected the 20th governor of Missouri in 1870 for a two-year term.

Mr. Gunn died August 23, 1861, and his wife, Elizabeth inherited his estate. Elizabeth Gunn died September 1871 and her will gave her youngest daughter, also named Elizabeth, the real property now known as 109-111-113 Madison Street. Governor Benjamin Gratz Brown was made trustee of the properties "for the sole use and benefit of my daughter Elizabeth." In Victorian time unmarried women would usually have a close male relative, in the case a brother-in-law, supervise their money and investments. The tenement and home of Mrs. Brown (nee Gunn) was torn down and this row house erected on the site in 1871. It is possible that the row house was built as a form of steady income through rental for the unmarried Elizabeth.

May 21, 1881, the property at 109-111-113 Madison was sold at public venue at the Court House in St. Louis to satisfy a deed of trust in the amount of $4,000. From that time on, the three sections were always sold separately to different buyers. They were used as private residences, rooming and apartment house, and various businesses.

109 Madison was purchased by the Cole County Historical Society August 8, 1946 for $7,000. Its prior use had been as an office and then as a boarding house; it was generally in poor condition. Lighting fixtures, doors, fireplace mantles, etc. had all been removed over the years. It was painstakingly restored to its original period. John D. Paulus Jr., son of the oldest living architect in St. Louis, was the architect on this project.

The B. Gratz Brown house (109 Madison) was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 21, 1969. From the National Register of Historic Places, p. 254, "This house (Cole County Historical Society Museum) and the remaining sections of the row building comprise an architectural type relatively uncommon in mid-nineteenth century Missouri towns. Rows of commercial structures with stores below and living quarters above are prevalent throughout the state, but the urban row house of this period opening directly onto the street is a rarity." The four-story brick row house with plain lines is typical of the Federal style of architecture. Narrow semi-arched windows and a limestone belt around the shorter windows of the ground floor break the façade. The rear entry to the lower floor is at ground level. Originally the ground floor contained the dining room and kitchen. A cistern, an outhouse, and a detached summer kitchen or shed were in back. The entrance to the main floor is well above the street and is recessed six feet. Wide wooden steps lead to tall, divided wooden doors. In the foyer to the left are two double door openings to a 40' x 18' drawing room, and steep, narrow stairs lead to the second floor.

111 Madison was purchased in 1969 by the Associated General Contractors of Missouri and extensively remodeled for offices. In 1999, Jim McHenry, Elizabeth Rozier and Betty Jo DeLong purchased this building for the Cole County Historical and it was extensively remodeled, essentially doubling available floor space for the museum. The ground floor now houses the James library, the first floor the DeLong Room for display of governors' wives' gowns, and the second floor McHenry's Civil War Room. The extensively renovated rooms were opened to the public in 2003.

113 Madison was purchased in 1972 by Missouri State Medical Association and it too was remodeled for offices. This organization still owns and occupies that property.

Upschulte House & Memorial Courtyard

Located behind the CCHS Museum building is the Upschulte House. On April 30, 1980, the Upschulte House was acquired and moved to the rear of the museum from its original site at 327 West High Street. The charming house with an arched entrance-way and interesting patterns of brickwork on the facade was one of 52 buildings in the Missouri State Capitol Historic District placed on the National Register in 1976. It is listed as The Margaret Upschulte House "two-story, red brick, German-style house (which) exhibits a good degree of original integrity. Circa 1865."

On April 30, 1980 the Upschulte House was acquired and moved to the rear of the museum from its site at 327 West High Street. The cost to the Historical Society for the moving was $19,000, with the Jefferson City Housing Authority assuming other expenses. The structure would have been demolished for construction of the Harry S. Truman State Office Building.

The two-story red brick building is representative of traditional German architecture brought to the mid-state area by German immigrants who settled the Missouri River valley in the 1840s. Discrepancies exist in available data on the history of the house, some suggesting that it was built in 1867. The building was remodeled in the 1920s, and a wooden structure to the east side of the house was removed. This wooden structure is reported to be the site of the first Catholic mass celebrated in Jefferson City in 1831, seven years before the regularity of missionary visits suggested that a parish be formed.

During the 1920s remodeling, upstairs dormers were added along with side and back porches, but the porches were removed prior to moving the building to its present site. The Henry Upschulte family, though providing the name for the house, did not acquire the property until 1904. It remained in the Upschulte family until ownership transferred to the Cole County Historical Society.

Put a touch of history in your event!  Click below to learn more about renting the Upschulte House and Courtyard for your next event.

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