Saturday, May 21, 2016

Historic St.Charles

This little town out outside of St.Louis certainly has been the most written about in all of my postings!  I just noted that as I did a quick scan of all of my postings.  Part of the reason is that it is where we usually park our home while we are visiting friends and family in St. Louis.  Another reason is that it is an easy walk down the Katy Trail and over to the Main Street of St.Charles from our home.  And quite possibly by now many of my readers know of my penchant for American history, as well as beautiful gardens!
The garden pictured above has many glass ornaments, as well as rose bushes, quite pretty as well as different.  And as we were strolling down Main Street, we came upon an archaeological dig.
In the picture above you can get a bit of an idea of what activity takes place during a dig.  The area has to be sectioned off and markings taken of every significant find.  The workers at the dig are from Lindenwood University.   They informed us that they are trying to get an exact site of the Borromeo Catholic church, and only so far have found a few French artifacts.  Up the hill from the dig is a replica of that log church, reconstructed in 2008.  The first church, dedicated in 1791,was located in the village of Les Petites Cotes- which I have noted in a previous posting was the early French name for the town which is now St.Charles.  Of particular interest in the log church are the upright timbers- a feature of Creole Mississippi style architecture.
The oldest building on Main Street is that of the Masonic Hall, built in 1849.  The lodge held its' last meeting there in 1861.  With the advent of the Civil War many lodges passed out of  existence in the Border States.  The building was bought in 1865 and turned into a saddlery and harness shop.  After 30 years the Elks then owned the building.  A  marble and Deco tiled facade was added to the building in 1914.
By the way, there are interpretive plaques on most of the older buildings, which provided information regarding their history.  The Elks building is the tallest one in the picture above.
 The short building on the left use to be a dry goods store, with a photograph gallery on the second floor, built in 1860.  The original owner was a German immigrant, as well as the second owner of the building who turned it into a tavern in 1888.  During Prohibition the bar sold only soft drinks, supposedly.   The photography shop stay in business until 1916.
The middle building in the picture above is the old Benne Building.  The first building was built in 1840, in 1882 it was replaced.  It  has been the home of many businesses including a bakery, machine shop, newspaper publishing company and a post office.  It was also a pork house- history has it that 3-5,000 hogs were unloaded from train cars behind the building into pig pens.  They were eventually butchered and processed on the site.   While walking Main Street I certainly enjoy imaging what St.Charles looked like in the late 1800s.  It started out as a boom town due to the presence of the railroad, and as I have mentioned before, from 1821 to 1826 Missouri's first state capitol was located on Main Street. 


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