Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kaes House

Kaes house and estate (early 1900s)
 I am happy to announce that Phase 1 (Archival) of my Castlewood project is complete! Two months ago, I began digging through boxes stored in the attic of the Castlewood Ranger station, with the goal of creating a very basic internal archive. However, after some self-education on archival basics, I discovered the hot, spider infested attic was the last place on earth any important documents should be. Thursday, Tessa (CW employee) and I made the trip to Jefferson City to donate my two large boxes of findings to the DNR archive.
While in Jefferson City, we took a look around the DNR archive, which contained interesting artifacts relating to every state park in Missouri. Boastfully, CW had three existing drawers!  Some of the information we found pertained to mundane park activities (toilet paper orders, new trails, and plant species), however, there was a rather large section about the Kaes House.
For those of you who do not know about it: The Kaes house is an old home located within the boundaries of Castlewood State Park. The location of the home is remote and unfortunately surrounded by private property. Currently, the house is stable but in need of aesthetic repair.  It was owned by a few families but most famously by the Kaes (Spelled several ways depending on where you look). It is rumored, and let me emphasize rumored, that Kaes aided the Union Army by holding Confederate prisoners on the property. It is also rumored that General Sherman spent some time in and around the area.
Personally, I am not very interested in the Kaes House. The historical significance is questionable (whether or not Confederate soldiers were held there is unproven) and outside of being old, I do not see much value in it. However, I know that there are several older homes locally famous because they are old – Hawkin House (Webster), Sappington House (Sappington), Oakland House (Affton), and so on. If the house belonged to Ballwin or Ellisville, instead of DNR, it might be worth refurbishing and exposing to the public.
That being said, I know there are several people who find the Kaes house fascinating…the photographs below are for you.
Kaes House & Family (1860 - 1870)

This painting of the Kaes house still adorns the livingroom wall.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Missouri Pacific Railroad Station at Castlewood (1920s)
Searching for Castlewood Camp....

Hi everyone! My name is Lara, and I am a graduate history student at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. I am currently working to uncover, or rather piece together the history of Castlewood - and I need your help.

What is Castlewood? Well, that is a long and complicated story. Today, Castlewood is a state park located in Ballwin, Missouri. However, from the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century it was a thriving resort community. The community itself was owned by several companies over the decades, but it was most commonly known as “Castlewood Camp.” Within Castlewood there were several hotels, bars (Speakeasies in the 20s -30s), dance halls, churches, restaurants, clubs, a beach, and eventually a large half-moon shaped pool.

Despite the fact that at one point Castlewood attracted over 10,000 visitors each weekend,  there is no comprehensive or accurate history of the area. I believe that Castlewood, as a resort and a tight knit residential community deserves a through historical analysis so that its impact can be fully appreciated.

Through this blog, I invite you to share your memories, pictures and thoughts about the community. If you or your family members lived within/ around the resort, or just visited on the weekends, I would love to speak with you in person. I can be contacted at or Thank you for your support!

Washington Hotel & MP Railroad Station