Our Mission

To preserve the house of the Chatillon and DeMenil families and to serve as a resource for historic preservation in St. Louis.

How to Give

The foundation is supported by individual gifts and memberships, foundation grants, income from special events, tour revenues, and a gift shop. 

Please help fund the Chatillon DeMenil House operations, educational programs and restoration projects throughout the year.

With your membership the Mansion can continue to serve as a center for education focusing on the French Heritage of St. Louis.

Please consider getting involved with the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion – we hope to see you soon!

The Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion is a magnificent example of the Late Greek rival style in St. Louis, but it's significance is more than architectural.

The house embodies the stories of the families who lived here, including members of the founding families of St. Louis and Carondelet, a nationally known Western trailblazer, the family of an Oglala leader, the first chain drugstore operator in St. Louis, and a literary scholar who was a director of the 1904 World’s Fair. We also tell the story of the caves underneath the property, the highway system that almost destroyed the house, and the preservation efforts that saved it.  We are open for tours four days a week and private events are available on the grounds, in our Carriage House and in the Mansion itself.

History of the Mansion

The Mansion was built in two sections by families with very different lifestyles. Henri Chatillon built the first section, a four-room brick farmhouse, in 1849. He was a guide and hunter for the American Fur Company of St. Louis in the 1840’s before settling permanently in the area with his second wife Odile Delor Lux. Chatillon served as a guide for Francis Parkman, Jr. in 1846. Parkman wrote about their trip in his book “The Oregon Trail."

Chatillon sold the “farmhouse” in 1856 to Dr. Nicolas N. DeMenil and his business partner Eugene Miltenberger. DeMenil was a wealthy Frenchman. He came to St. Louis in 1834 and married Emilie Sophie Chouteau, who was a descendant of St. Louis’ founding family. In 1861, the DeMenil family hired English architect Henry Pitcher to turn the farmhouse into a Greek Revival Mansion. At that time they moved into the home permanently. The addition was completed in 1863.

When Nicolas died in 1882 his only surviving child Alexander inherited the house. He lived there until his death on Thanksgiving Day in 1928. Three generations of the DeMenil family occupied the home until 1929. From that year until 1945 the Mansion was maintained by caretakers, Edwin and Jennie Kaiser. Mr. Lee Hess bought the property in 1945 to develop the natural cave system under the property, the Cherokee Cave, into a tourist attraction.

 

When Interstate 55 was being planned in the early 1960's the house was going to be torn down. The Landmarks Association decided to buy the land and home from the State of Missouri Highway Commission. With a $40,000 gift from Union Electric they bought the house and land. Restoration of the mansion began in the summer of 1964. Formal dedication of the restored Mansion took place in 1965.

2015 Officers 

Ted Atwood – President

Joseph C. Carpenter – Vice President

Thomas C. Grady – Secretary

Mike Sommers – Treasurer

Staff

Andrew Cooperman – Director

Kevin O’Neill – Facilities Manager

Curtis Galloway - Sales and Marketing Manager

2016 Directors

Susan Aselage

Delores Blehm

Wardwell Buckner

Bruce Freimuth

Mary Hayward

John J. Loughlin

Shashi Palamand

Kina Shapleigh

Mimi Stiritz