Fellow Class of 65 classmate Shari Stiver was in town, so we cruised all over Cape looking for cool stuff. One of the things on our bucket list was to find a house allegedly used as a Civil War Hospital.
We ended up at 444 Washington looking at a home that was supposed to be one of the oldest in the city.
John Mark Scully, son of the former president of SEMO and a resident of the house until he and his family moved to Kansas, wrote a long history of the property for The Missourian Aug. 8, 1975. It’s worth following the link to read his account.
Sally Wright wrote a story about the house and the Scully family in 1972. Again, if you follow the link, it’ll save me a lot of typing.
Facts about the Sherwood-Minton House
There are some tidbits that surface in most of the stories I’ve read. The more research I do, the more I’m convinced that all you have to do it tell a story once. After that, it gets picked up by multiple sources that keep repeating it. Newspaper reporters, in particular, get assigned a story, go to the clip library to find out what’s been written before, throw in a few grafs of new material, then call it a day.
- The deed goes back to the early 1800s, when it was part of a farm owned by a fur trader, who sold the land to Don Louis Lorimier.
- The Rev. and Mrs. Adriel Sherwood bought 4.55 acres from Alfred Ellis, whose father, Charles Ellis, had bought 20 acres when Lorimier’s estate was settled in 1819.
- Rev. Sherwood selected E.B. Deane, the architect who build the Ellis-Walthren-Ranney house on North Main, to design the house. [Editor ‘s Note: Ellis-Walthren-Ranney is what was in The Missourian. Reader Sally Bierbaum Dirks says it should be Ellis-Wathen-Ranney. She should know. See her comment below. Darned newspapers. You can’t trust ’em.] Most of the lumber used was cut on the property and all glass and bricks were handmade.
- In 1849, the Washington Female Seminary settled in the Sherwood home. The Rev. David Edward Young Rice was the first principal. Tuition for boarding students was $65 for a five-month session; an additional dollar was added each session to pay for fuel for the classroom.
- During the early part of the Civil War, the home housed officers. It is said that gouges in the stairs were made by the officers’ spurs.
- Later in the war, the home served as a U.S. smallpox hospital.
- Rumors that there is a tunnel under the house have floated around for years. (Every old house, the Common Pleas Courthouse and Fort D had tunnels, if you believe the legends. Most of them have been proven false.) Mrs. John Mark Scully said she thought the tunnel existed, but had been boarded up. Mrs. Scully talked about trying to open it up, but they moved from the house before they did it.
- After the war, the Washington Female Seminary held classes in the home until 1971.
- Mrs. Frances Minton lived in the house from 1904 until her death in 1919.
- The H.E. Sproat family lived there the longest. They moved into the house on May 14, 1924, and stayed until the 1960s.
- From the early 1960s until the Scully family moved in, Mr. and Mrs. Gene Bierschwal lived in the home and also used it as for off-campus housing for SEMO women students.
- In 1985, The Missourian wrote that “One of the city’s oldest homes has reverted back [that redundancy drives me crazy] to the financial institution holding the mortgage on it, and a number of persons at that lending institution are hoping that a buyer interested in preserving its historic value can be found.” The building is still standing, so someone must have bought it.