Historic Campbell House saved from arson


ST. LOUIS – Fires were set throughout the city of St. Louis, including a section of downtown Monday night. But, firefighters were able to put out the fire at the Campbell House Museum.

At Locust and 15th streets in downtown St. Louis, a city block is taking an assessment after Monday evening. The sound of hammers and drills and work being done at the Terra Cotta Lofts following a night that turned violent and dangerous, and across the street at the Campbell House and Museum.

“Well, the construction techniques today are required by code to be nonflammable in the conditions it’s in,” said Jay Simon, president of Metropolitan Build Companies, which specializes in historic restoration. “Of course, this is a masonry structure, primarily of concrete block and brick and structural steel. So fortunately, non-combustible elements in the building, which prevented its demise last night.”

Due to projectiles being thrown at them, St. Louis firefighters were delayed in putting out multiple fires. The Campbell House is currently in the midst of a $1.8 million upgrade with ADA-accessible elevators.

“It’s an 1851 Victorian structure. It was built and occupied for many decades by the Campbell family.,” Simon said. “The Campbell House Foundation took it over in 1938 and has restored, renovated the building more than a couple times. Put period furnishings. It’s a wonderful place for folks in St. Louis and outside St. Louis to come visit.”

The Campbell House is one of the last remnants of city homes from the 19th century. Despite the damage from Monday night’s fire, the caretakers hope to hold their official opening in October.

“The Victorian home style is not as prevalent as it was in the 1850s. As far as a downtown structure, this is a unique one-of-a-kind remnant of that era,” Simon said. “On soil in St. Louis, which is not very gracious to an elevator four-story structure. We did start off by drilling down about 40-feet into bedrock to support the structure so that it would last for generations to come.”

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