This Home was Built as an Identical Twin of the Owners City House, 4 miles away


Phelps Country Estate, Carthage Missouri
Date added: March 02, 2024 Categories: Missouri House Mansion Classic Revival
Main house, Phelps Country Estate; view looking south slightly west (1982)

The Phelps Country House is a unique rural residence in Jasper County. This is because it was not the home of a farming family, but rather the country estate of one of Carthage's wealthiest citizens: William H. Phelps. It is, if not an identical twin, at least a close cousin in style and form to the city residence of Phelps at 1146 Grand Street.

Few other Missouri communities of ca. 10,000 population attained the wealth that Carthage did, nor can they boast the assemblage of fine Victorian period residences that Carthage possesses. Development of Carthage after the Civil War was made possible by good rail service and a booming lead, zinc, and marble mining industry.

The county history of Jasper County credited William H. Phelps as one of the best lawyers in Southwest Missouri. Born in New York in 1845, Phelps received his legal training there. He migrated to Missouri in 1867 and established his residence in Carthage where his practice grew rapidly.

Immediately upon his arrival in Jasper County, Phelps became involved in Democratic party politics. In 1868 he was elected chairman of the county committee. Although Jasper was a Republican County, Phelps ran for the state legislature in 1874 and was elected. He served one term. He also served on the Democratic State Executive Committee for many years and was a delegate to several National Conventions.

The Phelps Country Estate is the visible evidence of Phelp's wealth and stature in the Carthage community. In the 1890's he had built one of Carthage's grandest residences, a large mansion of Carthage marble. To build one of almost equal grandeur on his country estate was an unusual act, even in a community as wealthy as Carthage. It was not uncommon for the rich in St. Louis or Kansas City to have country estates in addition to their townhouses, but this practice was rare in outstate Missouri. For this reason, the Phelps Country Estate is an unusual document of the level of wealth and prosperity that Carthage attained during the late 19th/early 20th century.

The original hay barn was destroyed by fire and the original horse barn by tornado. The well house, smokehouse, and chicken house, all built in Carthage stone are still standing as well as the original silo.

Site Description

The Phelps Country Estate consists of the main house, well house, caretaker's cottage, carriage house, workshop, silo, and large barn, all occupying spacious grounds including a yard shaded by handsome maples and fenced pastures. The estate is located on a prairie of rural Jasper County some 4 miles northeast of Carthage, Missouri.

The main house is constructed of locally quarried Carthage marble in a late Victorian era Jacobethan derived style. The two-story structure with a red tile covered complex hip and valley roof and tall chimneys features the asymmetrical massing with one parapet terminated wall dormer that is typical of medieval-derived eclectic architecture combined with the usual mid-to-late Victorian era wrap-around veranda and the classicism of the late Victorian era that is reflected on this house in the cornice and veranda. The interior of this house is in the Edwardian neo-classic mode with fine-quality oak and cherry woodwork. Upon entering the house, a library, with a living and dining room to the right, is encountered. A wide archway supported by Ionic columns and pilasters grants access to a stair hall. The typical massive Victorian newell announces the staircase and a banister supported by spiraled balusters. At the landing is a stained glass window.

Significant outbuildings include a carriage house and workshop of undistinguished design except for the unusual construction materials, Carthage marble which links them to the main house. There is also a frame caretaker's cottage, architecturally undistinguished, but contributing to the estate ensemble, a silo, and a large barn that gains interest with its shingled upper story and large cross gable. An original hay barn and hose barn have been destroyed, the former by fire, the latter by a tornado.

The driveway to the estate is lined with maples and passes the barn and fenced horse pastures before turning towards the main house.

Phelps Country Estate, Carthage Missouri Main house, Phelps Country Estate; view looking south slightly west (1982)
Main house, Phelps Country Estate; view looking south slightly west (1982)

Phelps Country Estate, Carthage Missouri East facade, main house, view looking northwest (1982)
East facade, main house, view looking northwest (1982)

Phelps Country Estate, Carthage Missouri Looking northwest from living room/Library towards stair hall (1982)
Looking northwest from living room/Library towards stair hall (1982)

Phelps Country Estate, Carthage Missouri Mantel in south living room (1982)
Mantel in south living room (1982)

Phelps Country Estate, Carthage Missouri Work shop and surviving barn (1982)
Work shop and surviving barn (1982)