Maplewood History: Ellendale Home Place


William Lyman Thomas married Catherine “Kate” Compton Sutton, daughter of James C. Sutton, in 1869.  J.C. Sutton passed away in 1877. At some point after that William and Kate subdivided and began to sell lots from Kate’s inherited portion of land from her father’s estate.  They named their subdivision, Ellendale, after their oldest daughter, Ella. I know. Go figure.

A survey made in 1881 shows that they had not yet subdivided their property.  Kate inherited two tracts of land. One was 15 acres where they built their home.  That house still stands today and is still located where it always has been. You’ll find it at 2637 Roseland Terrace.  The fifteen acres is long gone. It has since been reduced to a fairly normal size yard for this era.

The other tract of 33 acres that Kate inherited except for 82/100 of an acre, falls outside of the boundaries of present day Maplewood.  Nearly all of it is located in the City of St. Louis, southeast of the Missouri Pacific (in those days) railroad tracks. 9.48 acres are even located on the other side of the river Des Peres.

They called the subdivision, Ellendale.  They called their home, Ellendale Home Place. All of the evidence suggests they had a long and mostly happy life there.  They certainly should have. As you are about to see, it is a very nice home.

This is a detail of an 1881 survey that shows Kate’s portion that she inherited of her father, James C. Sutton’s farm. Courtesy of Martin Fischer.
This is the original housewarming invitation that the Thomas’ sent to celebrate their new home. Courtesy of Thomas family descendants.
A closeup of this beautiful building.
I’m always interested to see what is on the backs of these things. They seemed to recycle a lot.
I took the rest of these photos when the home was for sale during an open house the realtor had in 2014.  This is the front southern elevation.  The front porch was changed somewhere along the line.
The eastern elevation with this very interesting second story porch.
Walking in through the front door you enter a central hallway with this beautiful staircase with the octagonal newel post.
To your right (East) is this parlor and on your left is the dining room. Both have these magnificent sets of pocket doors still in place. Above the doors are unusual wooden transoms. They must have once been able to slide back into the walls for ventilation.
The mantelpiece in the eastern parlor. It was seen in an early photo of the Thomas family a few posts back. I suspect it is slate.
Not to be outdone, the dining room has this very attractive mantelpiece.
A passthrough from the kitchen to the dining room.
All of the pocket doors are in good operating condition. The style of woodwork of all of the doors in the house is the same as seen here.
An ornate lockset in one of the pocket doors.
Very thick molding.
Magnificent walnut handrail.
The view from the staircase landing.
As a person who has studied traditional woodworking I can attest that wood does not bend like this. It had to be carefully shaped from solid pieces. No easy feat.
At the top of the stairs.
This simple mantelpiece is in one of the bedrooms upstairs.
This one is a bit more decorative. Must have been in the master bedroom.
View from an upstairs bedroom.
The combination window/door to the porch on the second story.

I have concentrated on historic details. The home has a very nice modern kitchen recently redone.  It  also has numerous attractive bathrooms.  Now there is a question for you.  Would it have had a bathroom in 1881? I don’t know the answer to that one.  I hope you enjoyed this look inside what is our most historic home.


  1. Hi Doug, I was looking at the original ( or what appears to be close to original) of the 1881 Survey, in the upper left corner ( right facing) it shows,” Jas. C. Suttons family grave yard.” I’m trying to situate this area with other landmarks but it is difficult. Are you aware of where this area was / is ?

    • Hi Bill, The street just above the Sutton graveyard is the one we call Southwest today. It is not identified on this 1881 survey but it was known at various times as Old Manchester Road and Arsenal (on the 1909 map). The location of the graveyard would be just south of Southwest Ave on the eastern side of the railroad tracks. I think that location is fully developed with residences today. What happened to the Sutton family members who were laid to eternal rest there is not known. Perhaps I should interview those homeowners at that location.

      • Would love to learn what you find out. If you recall, I dug up markers in my yard on Lyndover, but we thought it was probably the south end of the Bruno farm. Most of the markers I had dug up were footstones with initials like “E.K.” but one broken stone with a lamb says “Otto, sohn von” (Otto, son of).

  2. If I’m not mistaken, my grade school principal lived here in the late 1980s. I was friends with his daughter, so spent the night a few times.
    The thing I most remember is that there was a room concealed behind a bookcase coming off one of the landings.

    • Dear flatflo, If Ellendale Home Place has a secret room such as you mention I know nothing about it nor have I seen anything on my visits to make me think there may be one. It would be very cool if it did have but sorry I can’t confirm it. I do appreciate your comment.

  3. Doug your pictures show a great example of how the first floor trim is much more detailed and ornate than the 2nd floor. On the first floor you have the double rosettes on the door trim, the first about 2 or 3 ft off the floor the other at the junction of the vertical and horizontal trim. I have seen this before but do not know if I have ever seen the lower rosettes being where a chair rail would start at. I have seen it on the oustide of the main doors also. These areas are the public area of the house and where you wanted to show off your money with the trim. The 2nd floor is the private spaces that only the family would likely see and does not need to be as ornate. However that large trim is still pretty spectacular.

    • And so it goes, Mark. That the trim is less spectacular in the private spaces is a situation that is fairly common. It is interesting that the public spaces on the first floor have the rosettes while in the private spaces on the second floor the molding is mitered at the corners. I have some very large molding that I removed from Dr. Barron’s mansion at the corner of McKnight and Clayton Road before it was senselessly destroyed by the church that owned it about 2002.* The Barron mansion was built in 1867 and the window and door casing was mitered at the corners. From memory these casings were about 9 inches wide and 9 feet tall from the floor (even around the windows). Huge but mitered, no corner blocks. I don’t know when the corner blocks began to be used. The Thomas house we’ve been looking at had them in the public spaces in 1881. The 1867 Barron mansion didn’t. What this means I don’t know. Maybe nothing. I’d bet though that both of the owners wanted something pretty stylish when they built these two homes. You mention you remember seeing rosettes on the exterior casing around the main doors. I don’t. If they were wooden, they may have been a homeowners misguided attempt to do something historic for his home. In my experience they were mainly used on the interior. My 1910 home has them.
      *(That’s another story. The church that demolished Dr. Barron’s beautiful mansion is still there. I’ve not gotten over this yet. I ought to do a post about that fiasco. Hopefully it might help others to avoid this sort of destructive idiocy. See my Harper’s Pharmacy posts.)

  4. I lived in this beautiful home for 13 yrs. It has been my dream home. I tried very hard to maintain the integrity of its origins while providing updated retro bathrooms and kitchen. There are still some original cabinets inthe kitchen and where moldings and light fixtures had been “updated “ I scoured the countryside for original period pieces to match.
    The porch had been removed when I bought the house and although I would have loved to replace it there is now another home next door and I was advised by a historical architect that it would no longer fit.
    Although there was an addition built on the north side of the house ( maybe in the early 1900, judging by the newspaper stuffed in the walls for insulation) I think there might have been a porch and the back door(west side) was on the left not in the center. Perhaps the kitchen had been a separate building.
    Thank you for featuring this lovely home that brought so much love and joy to our family

    • Hi Christine,
      I don’t know if you will recall it but we have met once in the past. I remember standing on your front porch and talking to you although I don’t recall why. Something to do with the house, no doubt.
      You did a beautiful job with the house. Your improvements have helped to insure its preservation and they definitely enhance our community. If only all old house folks had your sensibilities. By the way ask that historical architect who advised against the restoration of the front porch to get in touch with me. I’d like to introduce him to some preservation architects that I am fairly certain will feel like he missed the call on that one. I hope you have seen my earlier posts concerning this home and the Thomas family who built it. They are fascinating and there are more to come. Much thanks for adding your knowledge to our digital pile.

      • Rereading my response to Christine, I realize it may sound a little flip. I didn’t mean it to. With regards to the front porch I think that most professionals involved with the restoration of an historic home today would say that recreating the front porch to look as close to what the original one did would be ideal. Granted there is a lot to consider. Some of the original materials are no longer available or have become rare and expensive such as the tongue-and-groove heart pine used on the porch floor. Clear fir doesn’t last as long as I’ve found out. I’ve had better luck with just regular treated pine. The point is modern materials can be substituted for some of the originals and still have most of the look of the original. Cost is always a factor to consider. Recreating a very large porch is expensive. I also did not mean to imply that Christine’s porch replacement doesn’t look well. It does. It is very nice and unless you are looking at a photograph of the original you will never know what was once there. There are many compromises owners of historic buildings are forced to make. No two owners would make all of the same decisions. Does that sound better, Christine? Now that said I think we need to be tougher on developers. Have I mentioned my posts on the Harper’s Pharmacy?

  5. Doug, Youtube has a great video showing an Asian fellow carving out a handrail gooseneck from start to finish. Old Audel carpentry manuals on stair building describe the process. Thanks for the great pictures, Gary

    • I will look for that video, Gary. Thanks for making me aware of it. I used to have a set of those Audel’s manuals but I’m pretty sure I gave them away. I bet they can be found in Google’s books online. You are welcome.

  6. So nice to see some of the interior pictures of the house and to see how much remains. The face plates on the lock on the pocket doors are fantastic looking. Glad that they are still there.


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