The Book House

Rock Hill
St. Louis County

 The “Book House,” as it is known by the business that has been located there for the past thirty years, is a center hall Gothic Revival Style house, and was likely constructed in the early 1860s. The property switched hands among early French St. Louis settlers and eventually ended up in the hands of noted Mississippi River Captain George C. Keith, who was most likely the owner at the time that this building was constructed.The style that Captain Keith chose for the home he built on Manchester Road became popular in the early 1800s beginning with the works of Maryland architect Alexander Jackson Davis, who published a design book in 1832 entitled Rural Residences. His guide book featured the romantic, picturesque Gothic Revival houses as the ideal style in which to construct a country house.  American landscape designer, horticulturist and writer Andrew Jackson Downing promoted the Gothic styled house as perfect for the country, with its wide, often double-gabled front and expansive porch. It may be that, if Captain Keith were the house’s first owner, that the style might have also been derived of the “Steamboat Gothic,” which was used for many of the river boats he encountered, with their wrap-around galleries decorated with ornate wood “gingerbread” trim. Buildings in the Gothic Revival Style are quite rare in Missouri and especially in St. Louis County where this building is located, and this is possibly the oldest Gothic Revival style house in St. Louis County.  The owner of the Book House building is entertaining a sale to a developer of the property on which the Book House stands. The developer reportedly wants to build a drive-in self-storage facility. Although neither application for a demolition permit nor plans for the new storage facility have yet been submitted to the City of Rock Hill, the owner has acknowledged that this is his intention and has served the Book House tenants with a notice that their lease will not be renewed and advised them to vacate within ninety days. It is hoped that by calling attention to the House through Missouri Preservation’s Most Endangered Historic Places Program, that the City of Rock Hill might be persuaded to reject the demolition permit and that the owners and developers would consider other real estate development that would preserve this rare and significant example of Gothic Revival architecture in St. Louis County.

Listed in 2013.

Update: This building was unfortunately demolished, but the business was able to reopen at a new location.

Leave a Reply