Historic Saint Louis has put Webster Groves and Kirkwood on the map for its first annual “A Spirited Holiday Past” tour of 26 museums and history houses from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1.
Mudd’s Grove in Kirkwood, 302 W. Argonne Drive, is a Greek Revival home built in 1859, located in the heart of Kirkwood just two blocks west of the iconic Kirkwood Train Station.
From 1865 until 1882 the mansion was the residence of Henry and Sarah Mudd and their family of seven children. Mudd served on Kirkwood’s town board and was curator of the University of Missouri. During his tenure in the state legislature, he helped frame the Missouri Constitution of 1875.
The Hawken House at 1155 S. Rock Hill Road in Webster Groves has a long tradition of hosting visitors for holiday events. The house’s inclusion in the regional tour was a natural for the home built in 1857 by Christopher Hawken. His family ancestors came to America from Switzerland in the 1700s.
The Hawkens were famous for their invention and supply of the “rifle that settled the West.” Their hand-made rifles were carried by such notables as Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Kit Carson and Teddy Roosevelt.
“Our docents will be dressed in costume apparel appropriate to the Hawken family era,” said Judy Seltzer, house manager. “There will be holiday tours and decorations using greenery and the simple regalia of the time.
“We will have punch, cheese trays and Christmas cookies for our visitors,” said Seltzer. “We are part of the story of Westward Expansion and it’s a great story. We are very flattered to be part of such this major tour undertaking by Historic Saint Louis.”
Knowledgeable docents with tales of local and national history will also be available at Mudd’s Grove, according to Betty Hudgins of the Kirkwood Historical Society.
“In addition to our docent tours, Mrs. Claus will be on hand at Mudd’s Grove and there will be live music to put everybody in the holiday spirit,” said Hudgins. “There will be a hot chocolate bar as well for our visitors to enjoy.
“Every corner of the house will be decorated and there will be four trees,” said Hudgins. “The main tree is in the parlor and it stands 10 feet tall. It will be decorated with hand-made bouquets, antiques and precious ornaments.”
Historic St. Louis
Hudgins has plenty of bouquets for Historic Saint. Louis, which she said went to extraordinary lengths to put together a tour of 26 history sites in the St. Louis area. Homes are categorized with different holiday themes.
Among the many tour themes are: Victorian, Germanic, French Heritage, Early American, Civil War, African American, Country and more.
“With 26 tour sites, I can understand that people will be frustrated that they cannot see it all,” said Hudgins. “Realistically, visitors will probably be able to enjoy about six or seven houses, but the good news is that Historic Saint Louis will be back next holiday season with this tradition.
“The other good news is that the historical societies in the St. Louis area are seeing an influx of new blood, new enthusiastic young people to make all this happen,” said Hudgins. “And we want to encourage families to bring their children for the tours. It’s important to generate an interest in history at an early age.”
Nearby Holiday Homes
Two sites not far from the Hawken House and Mudd’s Grove that are on the holiday tour are the Sappington House in Crestwood and Grant’s White Haven in Grantwood Village. White Haven is where the 18th President of the United States once resided.
Before his duties under President Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War and his own presidency, Ulysses S. Grant was stationed at Jefferson Barracks. He courted Julia Dent, who lived on an area farm. Several years after their marriage, the Grants moved in with Julia’s family in what is now the Grant’s White Haven Historic Site.
“Here at White Haven, we will be decked out with mid-19th Century decorations that mirror the times of the Dent family,” said Julie Northrip, chief of interpretation at Grant’s White Haven. “We will have little holiday skits from room to room from different years to give the flavor of seasons over time.
Grant’s White Haven also will host renowned foodie Suzanne Corbett, who will explain holiday cooking traditions. She will be presenting gingerbread cookies and cakes to provide some of the enchanting aromas of earlier times.
“We will be encouraging our guests to visit other homes of contemporaries of Julia Dent and Ulysses Grant,” said Northrip. “Just up the road from us is the home of the Sappingtons. In the city can be found the home of their friends, the Campbells at the Campbell House.”
The Sappington House at 1015 S. Sappington Road will share in the holiday house tour fun. The home was built in 1808 and is believed to be the oldest brick house in St. Louis County. Period furnishings and seasonal decorations will add to the authentic holiday ambiance. Christmas greenery will adorn the Sappington House, a sturdy residence which is sure to provide a window to the St. Louis region’s rich family past, according to Sally Cakouros, resident manager of the Sappington House.
Admission varies by each location. For more information about the tours, visit: www.historicsaintlouis.org.
Bellefontaine Cemetery • 4947 W. Florissant, St. Louis
1820 Col. Benjamin Stephenson House • 409 S. Buchanan, Edwardsville, Illinois
Blair Huse McAvoy Mansion • 2043 Park Avenue, St. Louis
Campbell House Museum • 1508 Locust Street, St. Louis
Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion • 3352 DeMenil Place, St. Louis
Faust Park & Thornhill • 15185 Olive Blvd., Chesterfield
Field House Museum • 634 South Broadway, St. Louis
First State Capitol State Historic Site • 200 South Main Street, St. Charles
Gittemeier House • 1067 Dunn Road, Florissant
Griot Museum of Black History • 2505 St. Louis Ave., St. Louis
Hanley House • 7600 Westmoreland Ave., Clayton
Hawken House • 1155 S. Rock Hill Road, Webster Groves
Historic Daniel Boone Home • 1868 Highway F, Defiance
Historic Sappington House • 1015 S. Sappington Road, Crestwood
Jarrot Mansion State Historic Site • 124 E 1st St, East Saint Louis, Illinois
Laborer’s House – Jefferson Barracks • 360 North Road, St. Louis County
Magic Chef Mansion • 3400 Russell, St. Louis
John B. Myers Home • 108 Dunn Road, Florissant
Mudd’s Grove • 302 W. Argonne Dr., Kirkwood
Old Courthouse • 11 North Fourth Street, St. Louis
Scott Joplin State Historic Site • 2658 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis
Sutter-Meyer House • 6826 Chamberlain Ct., University City
Taille de Noyer • 1896 S. New Florissant Road, Florissant
Tappmeyer House • 2 Barnes W Drive, Creve Coeur
Twillman House • 11840 Bellefontaine Road, St. Louis
White Haven • 7400 Grant Road, St. Louis County