One of the pleasures of travel in countries with older developed areas than ours is to examine the physical evidence of the earlier inhabitants. Fragments of Etruscan walls or pieces of Roman columns incorporated into later buildings provide solid evidence that there is a connection to a very interesting past. Unfortunately the usual practice in our country is to allow new construction to obliterate all signs of whatever once stood on the site being developed. We are lucky to have a building here in Maplewood that preserves part of its earlier very different life.
The James Sutton farm once comprised all of the land between Big Bend and to somewhat past what is now the boundary of the City of St. Louis and from a couple of blocks north of Manchester and south to the railroad tracks. Sutton died in 1877. According to preservation specialist, Lindsey Derrington, “While much of Sutton’s land had been platted, there were only four structures actually standing upon it by 1893. Sutton’s own home at 7453 Manchester Road remained as did his blacksmith shop, while the Harrison home, built in 1891, stood on a large lot comprising the southwest corner of the intersection of Manchester and Sutton …. Mary Marshall, another Sutton daughter, resided with her family on the southeast corner of the intersection at the northwest end of her Maplewood subdivision while daughter Kate Thomas lived with her family to the south on what is now Roseland Terrace.”
The Marshall home was demolished. Kate Thomas’ home survives today in its entirety save for a front porch. Unknown to most Maplewood residents is that a large part of Sarah Harrison’s well-appointed home survives as well. The entire second floor of the J.B. Smith Funeral Home was once part of Harrison’s mansion. As the photos show it was a very beautiful home and what remains still is.
2012 marks the 80th year in business for the J.B. Smith Funeral Home. Prominent in the community and all around nice folks, the Hardy family and their staff are highly regarded for the important services they provide. They deserve our thanks for preserving this very interesting part of our architectural legacy.