Maplewood History: Woodside Meets Wash U


For those of you who came in late, Woodside, ca. 1848, is Maplewood’s oldest home as far as we know.  For 17 years, from 1999 until 2016, myself and many others worked to preserve and protect Woodside.  I hoped that Woodside could become the home of the Maplewood Historical Society and a community museum to boot.  17 years…  If you ever want to hear a one-sided rant about why that didn’t happen, just ask me the next time we run into each other on the street.

On March 3, 2006, the historian of St. Louis County, Esley Hamilton, brought grad students from his class on historic preservation at Washington University to witness Woodside in the rough.  The photographs in this post were taken on that day.

If you don’t know the fascinating story of Woodside and the Rannells family, this link will connect you to other posts on the subject.

Mr. Hamilton addresses his students in the front yard of Woodside at 2200 Bredell.  Since Woodside was once the farmhouse of a very large farm, it existed before any of the surrounding streets and houses.  Consequently the home, which faces south, seems to have its back toward Folk Avenue which was created much later.
Here I demonstrated a vintage tool that allowed clapboard siding to be aligned and installed easily by one man.
I have two different versions of this tool in my collection. The one on the right was made by the well known Stanley Company of New Britain, Connecticut.
This image affords a good view of the cross-gabled, Greek Revival building. The clapboard siding was still attached with square nails.
The western end of the building at one time had a two-story, open porch. It was most likely enclosed during the time the building was used as a nursing home.
Here I am pointing to where we discovered a large, wide, dry-laid stone foundation just underground. It was uncovered and disrupted when the city replaced the water supply to the home.  Its purpose remains a mystery.
The north side entrance to the basement which replaced an earlier one still extant beneath the kitchen addition on the left.
In the basement, we showed the students different types of construction.  The joists on the eastern end may have once belonged to an earlier house on the same site.
This spot, directly below the fireplace on the east end of the first floor, might have contained a cooking hearth used by the slaves according to the archaeologist, Joe Harl. Unfortunately we never got to examine it. It has now been lost to the modernization of the building.
Originally two stone walls divided the basement into three parts. Most likely during the nursing home days, one was replaced with this I beam.  Note the very well-laid stone in the foundation.  Nothing in this photo survives today except me.
In this image, I am pointing to a corbeled stone construction beneath the chimney on the western end of the building. It differed from the construction on the eastern end.  The massive boiler is on the left.
Here Linda Kurtz addresses the group. Linda was very active in the Maplewood Historical Society. She had done much important research on the slave families of Woodside. I have lost contact with her so if you know her or someone in her  family, please ask them to get in touch.
Here I am pointing to the Greek Revival style casing around the door. The interior doors had full mortise-and-tenon joinery and pin less hinges.  The photographs had come from the Rannells family.
The beautiful sign was made by the Peddler’s Daughter’s, Liz and Em, who operated a shop by that name on Sutton. The fireplace flanked by the French doors was probably from a remodel done in the early 1920’s after the home left the family.
Here I was showing the students tools from my collection that may have been like the ones used to build Woodside. A boring machine that was used to waste the wood in a mortise is on the left. I am holding a chisel.  On the right is part of an old timber with a tenon on the end.  To be as accurate as possible, I’ll have to admit that I don’t know for sure if the boring machines had been invented by 1848 when we believe Woodside was constructed.
Here they get to handle a broad axe which would have been used to hew the flat surfaces on the top and bottom of most of the first floor joists. The blue tape is to protect the students from the sharp edge.
Upstairs the numbers on the doors were from the nursing home days.
A few original windows remained. These were located mainly on the front and eastern facades. They were recognizable by their Gothic muntins which in cross section resemble a church window.
I discovered the original balustrade leading to the third floor when I removed a firewall that had been installed by the nursing home.
Another very active member of the historical society was Joann Grein seen here with the students on the third floor.


  1. This is great, Doug. Thanks so much. I will be sharing with my family (descendants of Woodside’s Mary and Charles Rannells.


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