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Cole County Historical Society Row Houses

SKU: 0022
  • Cole County Historical Society    1991

    1871 Federal Style Row house, Jefferson City, Missouri


    Each of the three sections of this four-story row house are owned and occupied by separate enterprise – the Cole County Historical Society, 109 Madison; the Associated General Contractors of Missouri, 111 Madison; and the Missouri Medical  Association, 113 Madison Street – and features the plain lines typical of the Federal style of architecture.


    Information published in the national Register of Historic Places contains these comments:  “This house (referring to the Cole County Historical Society Museum) and the remaining sections of the row building comprise an architectural type relatively uncommon in mid-19th 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…”Sections of the building have been used through the years as family residences.


    This structure occupies land owned by Calvin Gunn, the capital city’s first printer; Gunn came to Jefferson City from St. Charles, Missouri in 1826 and in June of that year established the Jefferson Republican, the capital city’s first newspaper.  Gunn was official state printer for 18 years.  During the years 1837 and 1839, he acquired title to the properties known as 109-111-113, was used by Gunn as a business office and offices for various tenants.

    Calvin Gunn died August 234, 1861, and his wife, Elizabeth, inherited his estate.  Elizabeth Gunn died September 1871, and the above-described properties were devised to her son-in-law, B. Gratz Brown, as trustee in trust for the sole use and benefit of her youngest daughter, Elizabeth.  The present row house was constructed under Brown’s supervision.


    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 B. Gratz Brown of St. Louis on August 12, 1858.  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 1863-1873, then returned to Missouri and was elected the 20th governor of Missouri in 1870 for a two-year term.  The Brown family returned to St. Louis in 1873.  The row building was sold in 1881 as three individual units and each changed owners several times during the next century.


    In 1946, the Cole County Historical Society, organized in 1941, purchased 109 Madison as a permanent home for the Society and to establish a museum.  The four floors of the museum contain hundreds of relics from Missouri’s past.  The building is filled with numerous treasures of historical significance of the city, county and state, dating from the time the area was part of the Louisiana Territory.  The spacious rooms, adorned with large, antique chandeliers, rosewood, mahogany and walnut furniture, French mirrors, fine paintings and many object d’art, have the Victorian elegance of a 19th- century home.


    Some of the more important pieces in the museum belonged to Governor B. Gratz Brown and to Thomas Lawson price.  The Price family came to Jefferson City from Virginia about 1831.  Price established the first mail stageline between Jefferson City and St. Louis, participated in the building of Missouri’s railroads, served in the Missouri Legislature, the U.S. Congress, was Jefferson City’s first mayor in 1839, served as Lt. Governor of Missouri 1848-1852, and during the Civil War President Lincoln appointed him a Brigadier General in command of the defense of Jefferson City.  The Price mansion, built in 1842, was the social and political center of early Jefferson City.  It was demolished in 1905 to accommodate the present Missouri Supreme Court Building.


    On the ground floor of the museum is a display that can be found nowhere else in Missouri.  The inaugural gowns of Missouri’s first ladies on display provide vivid glimpse of fashion trends from the late 1800s to the present.  From the Victorian era’s buttons, bustles and bows to the simpler styles worn by more recent occupants of the Executive Mansion, these gowns represent not only fashion trends but the personalities o Missouri’s first ladies.


    111 Madison was purchased in 1969 by the Associated General Contractors of Missouri, a corporation, and extensively remodeled for its offices.


    113 Madison was purchased in 1972 by Missouri State Medical Association, and it, too, was remodeled for offices.


    This three-section row house is a contemporary structure to Missouri’s Executive Mansion.  Construction on the two buildings was completed the same year – 1871; both were supervised by the then Governor B. Gratz Brown and both are located on the northern end of Madison Street – opposite sides.



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