Millionaires' Row

After the Civil War, the wealth and prosperity generated by the lumber trade ushered in Hannibal's Gilded Age. Between the years 1865 - 1900 magnificent Victorian homes were constructed, and although many of the "Mansions" could be found on Fourth Street, Sixth Street, and further west on Center Street, by far the most fashionable address to have in Hannibal was on Fifth Street, also known as "Millionaires' Row". Here, wealthy businessmen such as Garth, Cruikshank, Dubach, Pettibone and Rowe designed fantastic homes, many of which are still being enjoyed by Hannibalians today.

 

One of the conundrums faced by modern-day Hannibal preservationists is how to properly care for these massive structures. When the lumber barons ruled and money flowed freely through Hannibal after the Civil War, wealthy Hannibalians spared no expense when constructing their lavish homes. Most homes built in the Central Park and Maple Avenue Historic Districts were two- and three-story brick structures with servants’ quarters. Many of Hannibal’s historic district homes fall into the range of twenty-five hundred to four thousand square feet, but more than two dozen mansions and mini-mansions were also constructed that are greater than five thousand square feet. (The largest and most grand, Rockcliffe Mansion, found in the Maple Avenue historic district, is 13,500 square feet.)

 

In today’s economy, it is difficult to find the means to manage the upkeep of these amazing structures. Many fell into disrepair throughout the twentieth century, and to begin a large-scale renovation of these structures today can be cost-prohibitive. Another issue is the strain that would be put on the limited number of painters, carpenters and masons who reside in northeast Missouri; the sheer volume of projects required to restore so many one-hundred-plus-year-old homes makes wide-scale preservation of the historic districts even more difficult.

 

Many fine examples of Queen Anne, Italianate, Second Empire, Georgian, and other nineteenth-century architectural styles have been and continue to be preserved throughout Hannibal. Each day, one can drive through one of Hannibal’s five historic districts and find evidence of restoration activity.

 

 

More information coming soon!