Touring Jefferson City History

Featured Sliders / Home Essentials / Stories / September 12, 2017

(Photo by Emil Lippe) A stained glass window glistens in the sunlight at the home of Mike and Laura Ward’s home on Aug 5.

HCJ Homes Tour slated for Sept. 17

Fostering an appreciation for architecture of days gone by – that’s the ultimate goal of the 12th annual Homes Tour scheduled for Sept. 17. The main fundraiser of the Historic City of Jefferson (HCJ) will feature eight of the Golden Hammer award-winning buildings.
“In opening these homes to the public, we hope that more historical buildings will be saved,” said Janet Maurer, Historic City of Jefferson spokeswoman.
“We hope to show those homeowners who are thinking about taking on this task that their home and/or building can be brought up to 21st Century needs while still respecting the architecture and history of the past.”
The Golden Hammer Award is given to individual properties scattered throughout Jefferson City. Each historic property has been recognized with a small ceremony and recognition in the HCJ newsletter. “HCJ decided it was time to gather some of these properties into an official Homes Tour,” Maurer said.

The tour will include small properties as well as larger properties, all of which have a historic past and owners who find significance in preserving them.

“There has been so much focus, and rightfully so, on Capitol Avenue with restoring and saving these beautiful historic mansions. We wanted to show that throughout our town there are other historic homes of all styles and sizes that have already been restored. In doing so, a part of Jefferson City history and historical architecture has been saved, economic development created, along with pride and integrity brought back to each neighborhood.”
A brief history of each home will be provided to visitors during the tour, and there will be homeowners and volunteers located at each home to point out additional features, as well as field questions.
Find out more about two of the Golden Hammer award-winning houses featured on this year’s Homes Tour.

Nelson C. and Gertrude A. Burch House 

Built in 1868, the Nelson C. and Gertrude A. Burch House, located at 115 W. Atchison Street, is one of the earliest homes in the Old Munichburg neighborhood.
“It’s in the heart of the city, but it’s on a secluded acre lot full of mature trees,” homeowners Michael and Laura Ward said.
The Wards have worked to retain the home’s historical and architectural integrity since making the property their own in December 2011. They were recipients of the Golden Hammer Award in 2013 for their efforts.

(Photo by Emil Lippe)
A sign with the words “Antiques & Curiosities” hangs over gardening cans in the backyard of Mike and Laura Ward’s home.

The Burch House has come a long way from the dilapidated state the Wards found it in. The home previously had limited electricity with a 60-amp fuse box and knob and tube wiring throughout. It came with two rusted-out furnaces, cracked and leaking pipes, a leaking roof, broken AC units, 15 broken or cracked windows, rusted gutters and a rotten front porch, among other issues.
Its worn out state, however, couldn’t stop the Wards from envisioning what could be.
“We have updated everything and restored the home as accurately as possible,” Laura said. “To me, it’s the complete package. I love the Italianate architecture. The layout of the home, the curved walnut staircase, the two sunrooms, the marble fireplace, the Widow’s Walk where I watch the fireworks.”
Other favorite features of the homeowners include the horse stall and chicken coop, which are both still intact inside the barn, and the evening lights shining through the arched windows with their wavy glass panes. “I just love everything about it.”
While the structure’s appearance is largely the same as when constructed 145 years ago, the two additions do not impose a negative impact on the house’s historical significance. The house remains intact, both inside and out, retaining its original function as a single-family dwelling.
As to be expected, the Burch House also has a rich history, making it even more appealing to the Wards.

(Photo by Emil Lippe) A staircase leads upstairs over the doorway to the kitchen in Mike and Laura Ward’s home.

“I have a passion for our past. Having grown up in an 1852 home, I have always loved historic homes and their architecture. … Michael and I feel we are only stewards of this home and love sharing it with others.”
In 1865, Nelson Burch and his brother Oscar purchased five hilltop acres at the corner of Jefferson and West Atchison streets upon their return from the Civil War. Nelson built what is now 115 W. Atchison with characteristics of Italianate architectural style and Missouri-German Vernacular building tradition. Oscar built a similar style home on the northwest side of Jefferson City.
Nelson’s home was sold in 1888 to a mother and daughter, Elizabeth Wagner and Antonia Zuendt, both widows raising their sons. The Wagners and Zuendts developed much of the area in years to follow. In 1925, Richard and Bertha (Beck) Pohlmann purchased the home where they raised their seven daughters and one son.
“Of all those who lived in this home, we feel closest to this family. We had the pleasure of hosting the Pohlmanns for their family reunion last year. It was such a pleasure to learn of both the laughter and sadness that occurred in this home during that time,” Laura said.
The home had three more owners before the Wards began to make their mark on the Burch House. Learning the history of their home has given the family new meaning to everyday tasks.
“It’s important to know both the struggles and the successes of those who were responsible for getting us where we are today,” Laura said. She recalls the story of the Pohlmann mother passing away and the memory of how one daughter embraced her father at the bottom of the staircase that day. “I now see that sad embrace as I go down the staircase, almost feeling as if I’m intruding, and feel grateful this home is still a part of our city.”

The ’Siamese buildings’ 

Dubbed the “Siamese buildings” by their current owners, Connie and Darryl Hubble, 616 and 618 E. High Street have a long history of commercial and residential use. If visitors were to visit the space today, they would see the buildings continue that tradition, now housing Downtown Realty and residential rental property.

(Photo by Julie Smith)
Devan Netcott’s second floor apartment on E. High Street is beautifully decorated and the building in which it resides is part of the 2017 Historic City of Jefferson Homes Tour on Sept. 17, featuring Golden Hammer Award winners.

Although built with a conjoining wall, these East High Street buildings were constructed at different times, some years apart.
“They are, by my description, Siamese buildings because they share a common wall,” Connie Hubble said.
The 616 building appears on city maps dating back to 1898. Using a combination of historical and oral records, it seems the 618 portion of the building wasn’t added until much later, possibly in the early 1920s or 1930s.
“It was interesting to note that the front wall of 618 was not built to be square but instead flowed from the front of 616 to the building already in existence at 620,” Connie said. “This resulted in a proper front appearance but a wall that was some l6 inches out of plumb from west to east. This added some challenges when constructing new interior walls for that space.”
The first written record of the buildings is a title transfer in 1915 between Edson L. Burch and his wife, Orian P., to C. F. Steppelman. Edson Burch was the nephew of Nelson Burch who was the original owner of 115 W. Atchison, also featured on the Homes Tour.
“Edson Burch was involved in real estate and finance so it is unknown if this property was an investment for him or if he operated a business there,” Hubble said.
History indicates 616 was used to house a grocery store in 1915 by Steppelman and his wife Cholista after they secured the property. The Steppelman family would maintain the property for the next 75 years.
Steppelman’s Electric Company was operated at 618, and later Steppelman’s Sporting Goods. The building was eventually passed on to brothers Jim, Jack and Jerry Steppelman, and it again became a sporting goods store operated by Skipper Surbaugh. Surbaugh occupied the 616 space from the early ‘70s until approximately 1990 when the building was sold to David Gilmore, who operated a Western Store and Saddle Shop.
In the early ‘50s the 616 building was divided, with half leased to Dr. Eugene and Leon Lake who were a father-son team. The front portion of the other half became the barber shop of L.E. Scrivner, which would later be purchased by Oscar Tyree and eventually Norm Luebbert (who remained until the late ‘90s).
618 is also said to have housed several businesses throughout the years.

(Photo by Julie Smith)
Devan Netcott’s second floor apartment on E. High Street is beautifully decorated and the building in which it resides is part of the 2017 Historic City of Jefferson Homes Tour on Sept. 17, featuring Golden Hammer Award winners.

“Oral history indicates there may have been a bar of sorts at one time, followed by the Red Payne restaurant operated by Mel Allen. This would have been prior to the ‘50s,” Hubble said.
The most recent business was a kitchen and bath renovation company.  The building remained vacant for several years prior to the Hubbles’ purchase of the property in January 2011.
“Obviously the accuracy of this information and chronological order may not be exact, but it reflects the memory of several people who lived and worked in the neighborhood, as well as information from the Steppelman family and the property abstract.”
After the Hubbles acquired the buildings and the land, they found no choice but to do extensive demolition and renovations to undo the damages of neglect caused by years of vacancy.
“Effort was used to preserve as much character of the buildings as possible, but initially it had to be taken down to the bones and rebuilt. Using the original infrastructure, eventually the results are two new 100-plus-year-old buildings,” Hubble explained.
The buildings were brought up-to-date with new plumbing, electrical, air conditioning and heating. There are new roofs, walls, ceilings, floors and windows.
“The interiors are very up-to-date and the exteriors have been secured for the future,” she said.
The couple brought back special features such as the French doors on the upper level of 616 and added awnings to both buildings.
“There is a true feeling of satisfaction to have been able to not only improve these buildings, but in doing so, improve the block. They once again provide residential and commercial space and make a positive change to the neighborhood in which we not only operate a business but also live.”

The 612 E. McCarty bungalow

Jenny and Tony Smith received the Golden Hammer award in 2016 for work on their 612 E. McCarty Street home. The 1907 bungalow features a unique circular front porch and was brought back to life with a lot of careful thought and consideration.

(Photo by Julie Smith) The home at 612 E. McCarty won a past Golden Hammer award and will be part of this year’s HJC Homes Tour on Sept. 17.

“We were drawn to the rounded front porch and arched attic window facing the street; the Victorian features,” Jenny Smith said.

The couple was also drawn to the home’s location near Lincoln University, downtown, local parks and the bus line.

The Smiths knew the home had good bones, but was in need of a total overhaul.

“We saw a potentially charming house at a very low price in a neighborhood that needed a boost. We are happy to be part of this area’s revitalization.”

The couple gutted the structure and reconstructed the inside; carefully taking down original trim to later put it back up.

“We removed the lath and plaster from the interior walls (because of too much irreparable damage), and put up dry wall.”

They repaired all original windows and storms, stripped the original registers and put them back in, insulated the attic and put a full floor in for storage. They re-wired, put in new HVAC, new plumbing; refinished the floors, put a porch on back, and tuck-pointed the south side.

(Photo by Julie Smith)
Tony and Jenny Smith have remodeled the house at 612 E. McCarty, including rescuing this mantle piece from the house next door.

“We took great pains to replace missing original interior parts,” Smith said.

A neighboring home was being demolished during this process so the Smiths were able to salvage several period architectural pieces to include in their own home. Pocket doors, an oak mantle, fireplace insert, wood trim, and cast iron register gates help keep the integrity of the bungalow. Other pieces such as the front door, some appliances, a bathroom sink and several light fixtures were found at a restore.

“It was quite an odyssey!” Smith said of the process. “It now has all the charm of an old house, but all the conveniences of a modern home.”

The E. McCarty Street home is located in the Parker/Thomas subdivision named for the men who owned and developed the area. The subdivision was developed on land that once served as a horse track in that area of School Street along the banks of Wears Creek.

“The house was built in 1907 by a local builder, John Engelbrecht, who built other houses on this block as well. It is one of the smallest homes on the street, but like many small rock and brick houses in Jefferson City built around this time, it would fall into an architectural style called American Folk Victorian, a working-class version of Queen Anne.”

The couple’s daughter and family now occupy the home.

“They put in a garden in the side lot, fenced in the backyard for a playground and their dogs. It is great to have young professionals moving back into the city core,” Smith said.

As people tour the home, Smith would like for people to see that old solid rock and brick houses are worth saving. “As an environmentalist, ‘the greenest house is one that is already built.’ … I would like to see us ‘reuse, reduce and recycle’ more.”


The Golden Hammer Award has been given to more than 50 residential or commercial buildings since its conception in 2008. Committee members are always on the lookout for homes that might be worthy of the Golden Hammer Award as they are driving around town. They take nominations via an application on the HCJ website,

Award criteria for nominations is:

• 50 years or older and in Jefferson City limits

• Extensive exterior renovations that do not detract from the building’s historic integrity; general maintenance does not apply

• Work completed within the last five years


• The structures included in the 12th Annual Golden Hammer Award Homes Tour are:

– 115 W. Atchison Street

1868 Italianate, Nelson and Gertrude Burch Home

– 108 W. Atchison Street 

Clapboard, Joseph DeLong’s Boyhood Home purchased in 1912

– 601 Jackson Street 

1913 Hugh Stephens’ Home/Lincoln University President’s Home

– 612 E. McCarty Street

1907 bungalow (seen above)

– 616 and 618 E. High Street

1898 and 1920 East High Street Business District

– 720 E. High Street 

1880’s German Cottage

– 712 E. High Street

1900 Queen Anne, Frank Heinrich home

Homes Tour tickets can be purchased at Samuel’s Tuxedo, Busch’s Florist, Carrie’s Hallmark, Hy-Vee, Schulte’s Fresh Foods, Art Bazaar and Click2Sell4U/Kay’s Collectibles.
Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 the day of the tour, available at each of the buildings.
The homes are not handicap accessible, and no strollers, food or drinks are allowed in the homes. No photography is allowed inside the homes.
There will be several door prizes. Ticket stubs for the door prize drawings can be left at the hospitality tents at 108 W. Atchison St. or 720 E. High St.
For more information, visit

 Story by Jessica Duren

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