Hall Street, placed on the National Historic Register in 1979, is home to an incomparable inventory of magnificent mansions....
Hall Street, placed on the National Historic Register in 1979, is home to an incomparable inventory of magnificent mansions. Known locally as "mansion row" or "millionaire's row," Hall Street housed some of the wealthiest residents of Old Saint Jo, a town that boasted the highest per-capita income in the United States during the Victorian gilded age. It's not hard to imagine the horse-drawn carriages and splendid social events that graced this street in its heyday.Today, Hall Street is enjoying an amazing renaissance, as the ravages of time are reversed by a few enterprising owners. Take, for example, the stately Richardson Romanesque designed by architect Harvey Ellis at 802 Hall Street, built in 1890 for the influential Tootle family. A storybook castle, indeed, complete with turrets and towers, wrought-iron balconies, and gracious landscaped grounds. Recently under extensive renovation by a private owner, this jewel is being polished to shine again.Across the street is the chateauesque beauty known as the Shakespeare Chateau, recently re-opened as a Bed-and-Breakfast, tour home, and event venue. This amazing home, built in 1885 and designed by architects Eckel and Mann, contains the most lavish and elegant interior - all original - you're likely to behold. It includes more than 45 artisan-crafted stained-glass windows, each one original to the building and each one a phenomenon of brilliance and design. This home is open for tours by appointment, and is well worth a visit. See pictures and more information at the Shakespeare Chateau website.And then there’s the Schuster Mansion at 702 Hall Street, built in 1879, and presently in private ownership. It’s the largest of the grand mansions in the Hall Street District at over 12,000 square feet sitting on a generous 2.5 acres of land. The imposing Italianate façade is complemented by extensive ironwork roof ornamentation, and within the 3-1/2 storey mansion you’ll find frescoed plaster ceilings, expansive mosaic tile and parquet floors, a griffon-adorned mantelpiece, and original woodwork and lighting throughout. Mr. Schuster was hardly finished building his impressive home when, a few years later, his daughter was betrothed. He set about building a second home next door, now known as the “Schuster Daughter” mansion at 631 Hall Street, finished in 1889. This exceptional building has ornate roof ornamentation and a complexly detailed exterior. The (mostly) original interior is quite fabulous, featuring an encaustic tile mosaic floor in the foyer, beautiful woodwork and floors, and a fine collection of remarkable stained glass. This magnificent home is presently available on the real-estate market, awaiting a new owner.The Hosea House at 801 Hall Street is reputed to be the oldest house on Hall Street. Much of its original character was lost to a 1990s renovation, but this wonderful single-family home now contains all of the modern amenities and is set on a spacious well-kept lot that includes garage/workshop space at the back.The gracious C.D. Smith house at 718 N. 7th on the corner of 7th Street and Hall is an Italianate mansion set on beautifully landscaped grounds. A private home for more than 15 years, it has been extensively renovated inside to accommodate all the modern amenities. A lovely wrap-around porch invites summertime outdoor living and is the perfect backdrop for holiday decorating.These notes are limited to the mansions along Hall Street itself, but the Hall Street Historic District includes a number of other homes along 7th and 8th Streets. For information on other homes in the District, and for more historical detail and notes see the LivingPlaces website and look under Buchanan County Missouri, Saint Joseph City.The descriptions on this website include the following note related to the significance of Hall Street:”The Hall Street Historic District is significant for its concentration of imposing residential buildings which are excellent examples of Post Civil War 19th century and early 20th century architectural styles including Italianate, Second Empire, Chateauesque, Romanesque, Revival, Queen Anne, Neo-classical Revival and eclectic. These homes have additional significance as the residences of the "Merchant Princes" of St. Joseph's Golden Age. Located just to the south and east of the Hall Street Historic District stood the Market Square Historic District, its commercial counterpart. New prosperity flourished in the 1870's, 1880's and the 1890's; the great wholesale houses and associated banks supported the families that built and/or lived in the fine homes of Hall Street Historic District. With much of the Market Square area destroyed by Urban Renewal projects, the significance of this area increases as it serves as a reminder of the late 19th century wealth and culture of the city. During the first quarter of the 20th century, large homes continued to be built which created a greater density and cohesive quality to the neighborhood. Recognizing the significance of an area which reflects both commercial and cultural wealth, the structures of this prestigious area are now afforded protection under a city ordinance designating it as the St. Joseph Historic District Number One.”