Museum Hill has almost too much history to show. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s stolen or vandalized. In this case, the sign outside the Vineyard Mansion was returned and restored this week.
Architect Paul Helmer with Kansas City design firm Touch of Distinction worked on the faded two-sided sign — taking hints from one side and applying them to the other. The sign had been missing for close to a decade after it was initially stolen, but a good samaritan came across it and returned it to the mansion.
“This is called conservation work — it’s not repainting a sign, so we did not want to alter the original — hardly at all,” Helmer said. “We cancelled out the original curling lettering and put (the people and carriage) back, and Vineyard Mansion, and then the date of construction of the house, 1890.”
The Wyeth-Tootle Mansion, Vineyard Mansion, Charles and a number of other homes on Museum Hill will open their doors to the public this coming Wednesday for the 22nd Annual Missouri Preservation Conference. Included in the tour — available to those attending the preservation conference — is the 1866 home Becky and Jordan Riley are restoring, although since construction is underway, the tour will only be outside.
Located across the street from the St. Joseph Museum Wyeth-Tootle Mansion, the Vineyard Mansion is an alternative bed-and-breakfast with stunning woodwork and impressive decor.
Marcena Carter is the innkeeper at the Vineyard and the Charles. She said the Vineyard Mansion was built by Ben Vineyard.
“He was a very prominent attorney here in St. Joe. He did a lot of entertaining in this very large house — 11,000 square feet,” Carter said. “His mother, her name was Mary Owens, was courted by Abraham Lincoln.”
That story is the reason one of the rooms is called the Lincoln Room.
Harvey Ellis was the original architectural draftsman, hired by E.J. Eckel, for the design of the red brick house otherwise known as the Vineyard Mansion.
“St. Joseph has the benefit of having a series of houses and buildings by Harvey Ellis and through the influence of the architect E.J. Eckel,” Helmer said. “Great house, great designer, great medievalism.”
Travelers from as far away as Australia have stayed the night in the Vineyard Mansion, according to Carter.
“We’ve had several people come from long distances, especially during the eclipse,” Carter said.