©2018 by The Mansion 1857

Kathy@themansion1857.com

The Mansion, as it is popularly known, was built in 1857 by August (A.J.) Wastfield, on the St. Louis to Vincennes stage road. Born on Sep. 6, 1829 in Ridge Prairie (now part of O'Fallon), Wastfield was the youngest son of Walter Wastfield, a native of Bath, England and Mary Ann Shannon, a native of Ireland. Another of their children, Rebecca, was the great grandmother of actor William Holden, who was born in O’Fallon. Walter and Mary came to the United States in 1819 and, after spending a few weeks in Baltimore, settled on Section 33 of present day O'Fallon Township. They were financially independent.A.J. attended Bellville public school and Rocksprings Seminary.  A.J. marketed wheat and later perused farming. He was said to have been energetic, ambitious, possessed a good business capacity, but his passion was politics. On Jun. 12, 1860 he married Elisie Osburn of Lebanon. They resided in the Mansion with their 2 children Emily and Walter. The Wastfields enjoyed entertaining at The Mansion, their most famous visitor was a young Abraham Lincoln, who was an aspiring senator at the time. 

The Beginning

Underground Railroad

The Wastfield’s also opened their doors to runaway slaves on their way north, becoming a station on the Underground Railroad.  There were 3 hiding places in the house, one still remains.  The last 5 stairs on the way to the cupola, at the top of the home, are removable.  You can actually pull the stairs out.  These stairs hid many slaves on their way to freedom.  The Westfield grounds housed a stagecoach stop where drivers were given meal and their horses were given food and water, this was nicknamed ‘The Wastfield Tavern’ by the drivers.

Architecture

The Mansion is an exemplary Italianate-style home.  The Italianate style dominated American houses between 1850 and 1880.  It was particularly common in the expanding towns and cities of the Midwest.  In America, the movement that had begun in England took its own indigenous style with only hints of the rambling, informal Italian farmhouse with square towers that had been its model.  The Mansion, coming from 1857, shows a surprisingly sophisticated handling of what was then a fairly new style,  Identifying features include two stories; a low pitched, simple hipped roof with widely hanging overhanging eaves; tall narrow windows with elaborated crowns; a central square cupola.  The Mansion is constructed of brick with less common five façade openings on the front and rear and the rarer four ranked openings on the sides.  There are three surviving chimneys.

Tragedy

At the age of 37 tragedy struck when A.J. Wastfield was fatally injured in a threshing machine accident on Nov. 15, 1866. He was survived by his wife and two young children, Walter Daniel and Julia Emily.  The accident was such a shock to his parents that they sank into a "nervous fever" and subsequently followed him in death within days—Walter on Nov. 26 and Mary Ann on Nov. 30. Elisie Wastfield and her children continued to live in the Mansion for many years after.

Present Day

The Mansion is currently owned by Kathy Cox and Jerry Conway, who opened The Mansion Restaurant within its magnificent walls in Jan of 2015. The Mansion received a St. Clair County Landmark Award in 1963 from the St. Clair County Historical Society.