I ran some aerial photos of the neighborhoods around Capaha Park February 15, 2010, where I asked readers if they could identify the large white house at the bottom of the photo. It had a street or driveway that looked like a question mark leading to and around it. It looked like something I should remember, but I drew a blank.
Sixteen minutes after posting the question, Missourian Photographer Fred Lynch sent me the answer: the mystery house was Longview, also known as the Col. George C. Thilenius House.
Even though the home is only about two blocks from Cape Central High, is on the second highest hill in the city and has been there since 1870, I had never seen the place.
View from the south
My Mother, who has been just about everywhere there is a where, said she had never been there, either, but knew “about” where it was. Her “about” was good enough. It was at 100 Longview Place, within about two blocks of Central and about two blocks from a house we owned on Themis St. long before Central was even a dream.
Longview Place, is a jog on what, otherwise, would be Whitener St. It’s south of Themis St, west of Keller Ave., east of Sunset Blvd. and north of Independence St.
National Register of Historic Places
Fortunately for the curious, there’s a wealth of information about the property. Want a floor plan of the interior? Want to know about why red tile replaced the original wood shingles in 1926? (Fire.)
Want to know when the house was wired for electricity and received indoor plumbing? (1917.)
The application filed to have the residence listed on the National Register of Historic Places has all of that and more.
It’s available for download here. It’s a huge document that may be too large for folks who don’t have broadband internet connections. If you’re interested in area history, I’d encourage you to snatch it.
Here’s a hint: I kept getting error messages saying the file was damaged when I clicked on it like you would a normal link. That’s probably related to its size. Here’s what worked:
- Right-click over the link above.
- Chose Save Link As and download the file.
- Use Adobe Acrobat to open it.
Wine cellar? Slaves?
Some of the readers mentioned that they had seen or heard of a wine cellar on the property; others wondered if it had any connection to slavery.
Tidbits from the Register document
- George C. Thilenius and many other German settlers took a strong pro-Union, anti-slavery position in the days leading up to the Civil War.
- He participated in the first Union triumph of the Civil War, saving St. Louis for the Union.
- General U.S. Grant ordered the construction of four forts in Cape Girardeau and put Thilenius in charge of them.
- In 1867, Thilenius paid $1,000 for the 9.56 acre site where Longview sits. Before building his home, he built a three-story brick winery on the site.
- Construction of the house, which is the only one of its kind in Cape Girardeau, began in 1870.
- The remains of the old Thilenius Winery are located on the property to the west of the house. The subterranean cellar portion of the winery is all that remains today, and, except for an entrance on the extreme west end, has been covered over with earth. The upper two brick floors of the winery were demolished in 1964.
- All but 1.4 acres of the original 9.56 acres were sold to a real estate developer in the 1950s.
Longview from the west