About Oakland House Museum

oakland house st louis exteriorIn 1969 Oakland House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1975 Oakland House received the first plaque given to a historic home by the St. Louis County Parks & Recreation Department. In 1983 Oakland House was recorded by the Historic American Buildings Survey of the United States Department of the Interior in the Library of Congress.

Today Oakland House is owned by the Affton Historical Society that is responsible for the maintenance, preservation, restoration and renovation of the home. Such projects are funded through a combination of annual member dues donations, an endowment fund and ongoing fundraising events. The vast majority of the labor at Oakland House is provided by volunteer members of the Affton Historical Society and their families.

 

 

Oakland House History

Oakland House was built in 1853/54 by L. A. Benoist as a country home for he and his third wife, Sarah Elizabeth Benoist (whom he had married on 11/16/1849).

Between 1850 and 1867 Benoist had acquired land in several step transactions. The land was being acquired for a combination working farm, with crops and livestock, and as a summer home to be enjoyed with family and friends. Benoist named the property OAKLAND FARMS, named for the many Burr Oak Trees on the grounds. Eventually a total of 476.43 rolling acres of land was acquired (one third the size of Forest Park).

oakland house stlouis parlorIn 1853 Benoist commissioned George Ingrahm Barnett, who was the architect for the recently completed TOWER GROVE home of Henry Shaw, to design his home. Barnett was possibly the most famous architect that St. Louis ever had. Barnett had designed the Governors Mansion in Jefferson City and many of the lavish homes in Lafayette Square.

The exterior of the home was white limestone that had been quarried on the property. The interior included such features as 12 ft. high ceilings, 24 inch thick walls, a fireplace in every room, a “free standing” walnut staircase … supported only by the wall to which it was attached, and a watch tower. In addition to the main house on the grounds there were stables, barns, a four acre “Mirror Lake”, a stone boat house, a stone smokehouse and a bridal path running along the north side of Mirror Lake. Oakland was also to be a working farm complete with animals (horses, sheep, steers, oxen, mules, pigs and chicken), orchards (pear trees, apple trees, and cherry trees), and gardens (vegetable, herb, rose and other flowers). The landscaping and the gardens were to be completed under the direction of his good friend, Henry Shaw.