A Maplewood History Mystery

Every now and then some new information comes in regarding the history of our community that makes me shake my head in wonder.  Do all community histories contain these odd quirky bits or is this place really as some bumper stickers claim “MAPLEWEIRD”?

Through Editor Doug Miner I was put in touch with Pat Baker who noticed while researching her husband’s ancestors that there were a number of discrepancies related to a particular Maplewood man, William Koester. Ms Baker’s husband is the son of Florence Koester, a daughter of William Koester.  So far so good, but then the facts began not to jive.  Before I fill you in on the details, let’s review the information we have on William Koester.

These first four photos were first seen on the City of Maplewood's Facebook page.  The historic image is courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

These first four photos were first seen on the City of Maplewood’s Facebook page. The historic image is courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

The historic image is courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

The historic image is courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

The historic image is courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.  From memory it's from the 1915 Maplewood directory.

The historic image is courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library. From memory it’s from the 1915 Maplewood directory. (Make that 1912.  I shouldn’t do these when it’s late.)

The historic image is courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

Koester's original sign from the collection Of Jim and Beth Abeln.

Koester’s original sign from the collection of Jim and Beth Abeln.

The first floor plan of Koester's home at 7395 Flora.  From the collection of Jim and Beth Abeln.

The first floor plan of Koester’s home at 7395 Flora. From the collection of Jim and Beth Abeln.

Detail from the first floor plan.  We can say with certainty that spelling correctly is not one of the skills needed to build a fine home.

Detail from the first floor plan. We can say with certainty that spelling correctly is not one of the skills needed to build a fine home.

A collage made for the Abeln's by Yours truly a few years back.  So what's the mystery?  Stay tuned.  all will be revealed in the next post.

A collage made for the Abeln’s by Yours truly a few years back. So what’s the mystery? Stay tuned. All will be revealed in the next post.

6 thoughts on “A Maplewood History Mystery

  1. When I rebuilt my front porch a few years ago, I based my spindle design on the Abeln house which I now know is a Koester. Mr Abeln was kind enough to let me take measurements so I could have a good jumping off point. Granted, I had to modify the original 32″ high design to meet the 36″ current required height but I think I did an honest representation of the design.

    • Matt, I appreciate your commitment to maintain the detail in our historic neighborhood. I know that there are many people who feel the same way. Folks like you and Jim Abeln can take pride in the fact that you enhance the experience of all who live in or visit Maplewood and are lucky enough to see your handiwork. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for sharing Doug. My fiance and I had just walked past that house on Flora last weekend and noticed the unique ornaments on top. There are a couple other large houses on Flora that resemble that one; I wonder if he designed them as well?

    • He may have, Tony. Rosemary Davidson reports that “he built numerous houses in Maplewood and the Methodist Church at Sutton and Flora.” I wonder if he built the one there currently or the previous wooden one that burned? The latter seems more likely.

  3. The house at the NE corner of Flora and Sutton is one of our Maplewood gems.
    The urns being used as planters in front of the house are very probably cemetery grave markers. I wonder if they are inscribed with a name on the side facing the house? The marker on the old Bakersmith family plot at Valhalla cemetery is exactly the same design, but with the family name molded into it. It was a popular design a century ago. There are lots of them in the older section of Valhalla.

    • Tom, Much thanks for your comment. According to the 1982 Maplewood Survey by Rosemary Davidson the home remained in the family until Sept. 25, 1980. It was then purchased by local architect, Andy Kusnierciewicz (sp?). Rosemary reports that Koester came to Maplewood in 1889 and built his home in 1904. She says ” It is believed he chose this location for his home so his family could be close to the World’s Fair and the urns in front of the home are reported to have come from the Fair.”