Saint Joseph, Missouri is one of America’s best-kept secrets for historic architecture. Founded in 1843, St. Joseph quickly grew to become one of the most important sites of commerce and trade for the western continent. Early on it was at the forefront of advances in transportation and communication.
The Pony Express, transcontinental telegraph, a convergence of early railroads and the Missouri River Bridge made St. Joseph a center for western commerce and trade.
During the Victorian Era, St. Joseph was a major manufacturing center and attracted labor as far away as Eastern Europe. Products such as Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix, Premium Saltine Crackers, St. Joseph’s Aspirin, Big Chief Tablets, Cherry Mash Candy and Country Club Beer are just some of the products first produced in St. Joseph.
Vast wealth generated by St. Joseph’s manufacturing and wholesale trade is reflected in our city’s extraordinary architecture. Architects working here in the 19th century studied at the finest schools in Europe and America, such Paris’ Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Their works in St. Joseph reflect the heights of fashion and design of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
St. Joseph’s early progressive attitude toward public improvements also shaped our community. We were among the earliest American cities to have electric telephone service, and electric streetcar system, and a municipal airport. For a few years, St. Joseph even had more miles of electric streetcar lines than New York City. The city also built an extensive network of parkways and boulevards beginning in 1912 under the vision of famed landscape architect George Kessler.
View more St. Joseph architecture, in our flickr album.