A few examples of Southern architecture in Missouri's Little Dixie



On this page are just a few examples of the type of architecture most often associated with Missouri's Little Dixie. Built by persons of a Southern ancestry, most of the houses in the region date from 1820 to 1865.

Little Dixie houses are built in the Georgian mode; a Southern style and form grounded in Palladian architecture that developed during the Colonial era. The earliest form of the Georgian house arrived first from England, where it was popular among the land owning gentry. In the American Colonies, the slave and land owning classes adopted the Georgian style and plan. Within a short period of time the Georgina house plan became a symbol of the agricultural elite and economic success. As the slave owning classes migrated from the Southeast, they spread the Georgian house throughout the slave states. For Missouri, where Southerners predominately from Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia dominated the antebellum population, the Georgian form was the most popular house type.

Little Dixie houses are easily identified by their symmetrical facades, rectangular plans with central halls ("I" house or full Georgian form), brick construction, and exterior Palladian details like a front facing Classically inspired portico with Roman or Greek columns. The houses often employ other Southern details such as large windows (some even service as doors), high ceilings, the exterior placement of chimneys, raised foundations, and paired parapet chimney stacks like those often seen in the Bluegrass Region of central Tennessee. In Little Dixie, this Southern Georgian box form was updated in the latest architectural fashions, such as Federal, Classic Revival, Greek Revival, Italianate, and Gothic.




 

Postcard from the author's collection.

This is a 1970s Postcard depiction of Multnomah Plantation, Clay County, Missouri. Major John Dougherty built this grand mansion in 1856 on his 1,162-acre plantation. In 1860, Dougherty owned 56 slaves that worked his plantation. Dougherty's sons owned 13 slaves on their adjoining farms. The three-story house had 4 rooms on each floor that measured 18x20 feet and were separated by a central hall that was 20x40 feet. The third-story belvedere was used as a ballroom and spanned most of the length and width of the house. Sadly, the massive structure burned in 1963 after years of neglect.

 

 

 


Photo by Gary Gene Fuenfhausen

This is the beautiful Greek Revival mansion, Prairie Park, in Saline County, Missouri. Prairie Park was the "big house" home for newlyweds William Breathitt and Mary Mildred-Breathitt Sappington. The house was the focal point of a 2,300-acre hemp and livestock plantation and was built between 1844 and 1849. Mary Mildred-Breathitt, who married William in September 1844, was the daughter of Kentucky Governor John Breathitt. The Sappington family employed overseers to manage their large estate and 38 slaves. The majority of the slaves lived in a typical slave quarters village not far from the house. In the mansion's yard were additional quarters where house servants lived. Today, the house and 3 slave quarters are the only original buildings from the antebellum period.

Nearby, were the plantations owned by William's father, brother and sister, named Pilot Hickory, Mount Airy, and Ridge Airy. William was a brother-in-law of the first Confederate Governor of Missouri, Claiborne Fox Jackson, and his nephew was a famous Missouri Confederate General, John S. Marmaduke.


 

 

Photo by Gary Gene Fuenfhausen

Locust Grove was the home of Lewis Pence, located near Weston, Platte County, Missouri. Pence built his big house mansion c. 1845-50 in the traditional (Southern) central hall plan (known as the Georgian "I" house) with Greek Revival details. In 1860, Pence owned 330 acres and 10 slaves. Mr. Pence was a hemp planter, but he also raised livestock. Hemp was grown exclusively by slave labor in Kentucky and Missouri and by the Civil War was the State's most important cash crop. Missouri hemp was woven into cloth bagging, rope, and twine for the binding of cotton bales in the lower South.



 

Photo by Gary Gene Fuenfhausen.

Hicklin Hearthstone was the big house mansion of an 860-acre plantation in Lafayette County. Built c. 1838, the Greek Revival "I" house was the home of James Hicklin and his family. Hicklin was a slave dealer and owned 33 slaves in 1850 and 36 in 1860. Legends state that Hicklin owned as many as 100 slaves. Hicklin was known locally for his shrewd business dealings. Most likely, James kept his inventories of human flesh lean during the Federal Census reporting period for tax purposes. Today, Hicklin Plantation is one of Missouri's best preserved antebellum estates because of its standing slave era outbuildings. Included in this inventory of buildings are the rare slave "barracks", overseer's house, cellar house, tool shed, and smokehouse.



 

Photo by Gary Gene Fuenfhausen.

This handsome brick residence was built by Westport businessman, John B. Wornall, in Jackson County, Missouri, in 1858. Built in the Greek Revival style, and incorporating the popular (Southern full-Georgian) central hall plan, the big house was the focal point of the Wornall's 500-acre country estate. Wornall, who had migrated over a decade before from Kentucky with his parents, was a slave owner. The number of slaves owned by Wornall is not known, but medical records for doctor's medical services do confirm 3 men, 1 woman, and a boy.

During the Civil War, the Wornall estate became a battle ground in the famous Trans-Mississippi "Battle Of Westport", October 21-23, 1864. In this significant Union victory, 20,000 Federal troops engaged 8,000 Confederates, from the Army of Missouri, resulting in 3,000 casualties. During the battle, gun and cannon fire raged all around the estate's walls and the house quickly became a field hospital for both sides. Miraculously, the mansion survived the tragic war drama and only suffered minor damage.


 

 

Photo by Gary Gene Fuenfhausen.

In 1853, Colonel Oliver Anderson built this elegant Greek Revival house 2 years after migrating from Kentucky. The 2 ½-story Anderson house employs the use of the (Southern) full Georgian central hall plan, and on each floor there are four rooms that are 18x16 feet separated by central halls that are 14x40 feet. To the rear of the house, and forming an "L," is a kitchen and slave quarters joined to the main block of the house by two rooms upstairs and down. About 30 feet behind this extension was a large two-story slave quarters that housed Anderson's 40 slaves.

Colonel Anderson was a hemp manufacturer who purchased locally grown hemp that was used for making rope and bagging. By 1859, Anderson's manufacturing plantation encompassed 6 acres that included his residence, hemp warehouse, rope factory, 2-story slave quarters, and a 2-room frame house. Anderson also owned 225 town lots and 580 acres of farmland in the area.

The Anderson House and grounds were a battle ground during the Civil War. In September 1861, Missouri's pro-South troops numbering some 18,000 surrounded a Federal force of 3,600. Known as the Battle of the Hemp Bales, the Union forces under Mulligan surrendered after 64 fatalities.





Photo by Gary Gene Fuenfhausen.

Prairie View Plantation, also known as Crestmead, near Pleasant Green, Cooper County, Missouri, was built by John Taylor from 1857-1859. Mr. Taylor was the son of Cooper County pioneer James Taylor. James migrated to Missouri from Georgia during the early settlement period of the Boonslick region. James Taylor owned a large plantation and many slaves and was known locally as "Corn Taylor" for the great quantities of corn that he grew.

John Taylor was also a planter, like his father, and in 1860 owned 4,600 acres. In that same year Taylor owned 19 slaves and his total worth was estimated at $40,000, a substantial estate for the antebellum period. Prairie View's primary crop was corn, 12,500 bushels in 1860. Livestock was also reported in 1860, 10 horses, 80 asses and mules, 100 head of cattle, 15 sheep, and 160 pigs. Taylor claimed very few other crops, so it must be assumed that the majority of his plantation's resources were used in the raising of corn and commercial livestock.

Prairie View is one of many Italianate houses in Little Dixie. Built with a full Georgian plan, the house displays the typical Italianate wide overhanging eaves supported by massive decorative brackets. At one time, Prairie View had a large central cupola atop the low-pitched hipped roof, both common details associated with Italianate architecture. The interior of John Taylor's mansion, the front door and woodwork, are Greek Revival. At the rear of the house is the original portion of the home built c. 1830's and a slave quarters/kitchen that serviced the big house mansion.

 

 



Photo by Gary Gene Fuenfhausen.

Thomas Hall, near Grand Pass, Saline County, Missouri, was built c. 1857 for Baltimore Thomas. Notley Thomas, Baltmore's father, came from Kentucky in 1818 and settled the original Thomas lands. In total, the Thomas family owned 950 acres surrounding this plantation home. Notley and Baltimore Thomas were hemp planters and diversified farmers. In 1860, both Notley and Baltimore grew an impressive 60 tons of the cash crop. Because of their extensive hemp production, many slaves were needed for the families hemp cultivation. In 1860, the Thomas family owned 21 slaves.

 

 


Photo by Gary Gene Fuenfhausen.

Lilac Hill is located near Fayette in Howard County, Missouri, and it is recognized by nationally known Architectural Historians as an excellent example of Early Classical Revival (with "Gable Front and Wings"). Begun in c. 1832 by Alfred William Morrison, Lilac Hill's building plan is three-part, a two-story gable front or central block with two single-story flanking wings. The façade of Lilac Hill is embellished with a "circular" fanlight door, Palladian window in the "temple-like pediment" gable, and a narrow band of trim at the cornice. All of these architectural elements used by Morrison are typical of the Early Classical Revival house.

Early Classic Revival is truly Southern, for it was popularized following the American Revolution and built predominately in the South. The noted Southern statesman and architect, Thomas Jefferson, championed Classical Revival as the "National" style, and it is to his credit that it was popularized by the South's agricultural elite. Emigrants from Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky, where Classical Revival was most popular, carried the architecture all across the South. It was these Upper South pioneers that brought Early Classical Revival to Missouri and Little Dixie.

Morrison's house is built similar to Thomas Jefferson's original 1768 plan for his estate mansion, Monticello. Jefferson was a devout follower of the Palladian style, an ancient Roman classical architectural style that was revived during the Italian Renaissance by Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). Like other Palladian three-part-plans built in the South, Lilac Hill displays its owner's affluence. Other central-block houses built in Little Dixie like Monticello and Lilac Hill include the Thomas Shackelford House, built c. 1823 in Saline County, the Withers house, built c. 1842 in Clay County, and the Lutes and Calvert Houses, c. 1840's and 1850, both built in Platte County.

Alfred W. Morrison exemplified the typical southern agrarian of Little Dixie. He was born in Kentucky, active in local and state politics, a slave owner, and agriculturist. Morrison, who was an early Howard County pioneer, is credited for surveying the town of Fayette in the early 1820s. Fayette was founded in 1823 as the new county seat and incorporated in 1826. When Fayette was reincorporated in 1830, Morrison began his political career and served as a city trustee. On a County level, Alfred Morrison was the County Assessor in 1830, Sheriff in 1832, and Judge in 1838. Morrison's political ambitions also extended beyond Howard County to Jefferson City where he was the State Treasure from 1851-1860.

During the 1840s and 50s, Morrison remained at Lilac Hill where he was a farmer and active in other business interests, such as land speculation and buying slaves. By 1850, Morrison owned 750 acres and 14 slaves. Alfred's estate produced mainly diversified crops, livestock, and flax as a cash crop. Later, Morrison divided his holdings among his sons, James and John. Lilac Hill was eventually deeded to Morrison's daughter-in-law, Caroline Stewart, who was the wife of James. Caroline and James were married in 1857. In 1860, James reported only 6 slaves and the raising of livestock at Lilac Hill. His brother, John, on the other hand, owned 16 slaves and was a diversified farmer growing corn and other crops as well as raising pigs, mules, cows, cattle, oxen, and horses. After the war, it is known that Alfred operated a tobacco business in Glasgow, where his products were sold as far away as Liverpool, England. Morrison also loaned money and held mortgages on land in the area and was active in land speculation.

During the Civil War, Alfred Morrison paid to be exempted from Union service while his slaves served in his place in the Union army. Alfred Morrison and his sons, like many of Missouri's slave owners, were led to believe that the U.S. government would compensate slaveholders for their loss of bonded persons going into Federal service. Howard County slave owners, who wanted to escape from Union service, were eager to provide "colored" troops in their place. By 1864, the County's slaveholders provided 600 ex-slaves to meet the forced Federal quota. These same slave owners, who were escaping from Federal service by allowing their slaves to serve for them, were still buying and selling slaves as late as 1864.
 

 

 

 

Photographs by Gary Gene Fuenfhausen

Top left: The Cedars, built c. 1857, Stark, Pike County, Missouri.
Top right: Dr. Keith House, a raised Greek Revival with Italianate brackets, built c. 1855 in Louisiana, Missouri.
Bottom left: Luce-Dyer House, built in 1857 in the Greek Revival/Italianate style, Louisiana, Missouri.
Bottom right: Slave house, built c. 1850s, at the Luce-Dyer House.

These symbols of a by gone Southern era are just a few of the "big house" mansions built by Pike County's planters, slave owners, and businessmen.

By 1860, Pike County was a leading producer in Missouri of several cash crops and one of the State's most important slave-owning counties. In that year, Pike's planters cultivated 3,396,000 pounds of hemp and 1,194,715 pounds of tobacco. By 1860, 28.4% of the local population was enslaved African Americans while the State's average was only 9.7%. Of the 114 Counties in Missouri, Pike county ranked 4th in hemp production, 7th in slaves, and 8th in tobacco cultivation.


 

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The pictures and text are the property of Gary Gene Fuenfhausen and may not be used in any form without the expressed consent of the owner.

 

 Copyright  2009

Research and Photographs by Gary Gene Fuenfhausen.  All published materials on this site are fully copy written and may not be used in any manner without the written consent of its owner.   

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