Neighborhood to be considered for National Register of Historic Places

A favorite street for many with Jefferson City roots, Moreau Drive and 95 surrounding acres may soon become a national treasure, too.

The Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation reviewed the Moreau Drive Historic District nomination Friday. And the nomination was approved to be sent on for federal consideration to add it to the National Register of Historic Places.

A federal Historic Preservation Fund grant of $17,700 allowed the city to hire author and historian Lynn Josse, St. Louis, to complete the nomination.

Much of the research was completed by State Historic Preservation Office staff during survey training a couple of years ago. And the city’s 40 percent match to the federal grant will be covered through a $1,000 gift from the Historic City of Jefferson combined with staff and volunteer hours.

As an historic preservation consultant, architectural historian, author and award-winning filmmaker, Josse has experience working on more than 15 major surveys and has authored more than 30 nominations.

The proposed district includes all of Moreau Drive, and parts of Fairmount Boulevard, Oakwood Avenue, Fairmount Court, Vineyard Square, Elmerine Drive, Lee Street and Moreland Avenue.

The district features significant examples of community planning and architecture, spanning more than a century of construction.

Of the 241 primary buildings built between 1847-1950, only seven have lost integrity, Josse said.

“Although different styles and house types are represented over a long period of significance, the Moreau Drive Historic District stands as a distinct entity characterized by winding streets, hilly topography, common materials, property types (almost exclusively single family residences) and, with a few exceptions, a consistent scale,” Josse said.

And three contributing sites are islands, rather than structures.

Fairmount Boulevard and Fairmount Court reflect the original plan for Wagner Place subdivision, designed by Hare & Hare, a Kansas City landscape firm.

“It is the demand of the day, where landscape, art and nature are combined to get the best result,” promotional material of the day said. “Unyielding adherence to straight streets and gridiron plan ignores the natural line of communication, and causes unnecessarily deep cuts on the hills and fills in the valleys, spoiling lots in both places.

“Streets designed to fit the topography results in easy grades, and better relation of lot and street, thereby making the lots more valuable.”

Although non-contributing, a stone monument on Moreau Drive marks the 1864 march of Confederate General Sterling Price, which did not proceed into the Capital City.

Moreau Drive was designated as a “Country Road” on late 19th century maps. It connected to the city grid at Dunklin and Atchison streets.

Jefferson City’s population more than doubled between 1910-1930. Combined with the arrival of the streetcar system in 1911 extending to Moreland Avenue, the Moreau Drive area became a more feasible and desirable location.

The Edwards House at 1122 Moreau Drive is the oldest building within the district.

According to historian Gary Kremer, Gov. John Edwards hired the home to be built about 1847, but sold the property before completion.

The home at 1302 Moreau Drive was built about 1870 as part of the Leslie Dairy Farm.

Wagner Place replaced the county fairgrounds and the original Lincoln Institute Farm. The first and largest subdivision in this area, Wagner Place also was one of the first in the city to receive phone lines and trash pickup service.

George and Lena Wagner owned all but three of the original 750 common shares to Wagner Place.

The first six lots were sold in 1914 for 900 Moreau Drive, where a new public elementary school opened in 1917.

Mayme Vineyard followed with her plans for Vineyard Square. Then other subdivisions were built, including Virginia Place.

A widow, Vineyard was born in New York, but followed her widowed mother Mary Haviland to Jefferson City. Haviland bought the Edwards House and surrounding 15 acres about 1894.

Vineyard built 20 homes without a contractor there, according to the late historian James Ford.

The Shaw and Pollock Addition was the latest, being dedicated about 1928.

“For the first half of the 20th century, Moreau Heights was easily the most fashionable neighborhood in Jefferson City,” Kremer said. “Numerous well-to-do families constructed large, unique homes that continue to impress visitors today.”

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