Aurora, MO

The historic Lewis Shaw Coleman House built in 1914 is still a remarkable home

CJ Coombs
Lewis Shaw Coleman House, Aurora, Missouri.Johnston9494, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Aurora, Missouri is a small city but history strong.

The Lewis Shaw Coleman House on East College Street in Aurora, Missouri is one of four structures in Lawrence County listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's also the only one that's a private residence. The architectural style is American Craftsman.

From external appearances, it’s hard to believe this home was built in 1914 because externally, it looks like it’s in good condition. In 2016, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) due to its architectural significance.

The house is two stories and "U" shaped. Also on the property is a carriage house representing a contributing property to the NRHP listing.
Mary Kate Miller Coleman, Lewis Shaw Coleman (1907 portrait).Johnston9494, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Brief history

Lewis Shaw Coleman selected a corner lot at Park and College Streets to have his home built. That was 1914. On the same site in 1906 was a large Victorian home that had burned to the ground. 

The Coleman family owned a local lumber company and lumber mills.

The Coleman house isn't far from the Aurora town square and is in a residential neighborhood. Other houses in the neighborhood consist of ranch homes built around the 1950s and Victorian homes. The Coleman House is a two-story Craftsman style airplane bungalow.

Airplane Bungalow style dates from the early 20th century and grew out of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The Airplane Bungalow is similar to the Craftsman Bungalow, but the Airplane Bungalow is characterized by a "pop up" second floor, usually of one or two rooms; resembling a cockpit of an airplane. It may also refer to single story bungalows with low pitched roofs, wide sweeping open soffits that have dormers pointing out of the front of the roof resembling the cockpit of an airplane. (Source.)

Coleman and his wife, Mary Kate Miller Coleman, were both children of prominent Lawrence County families. They had two sons and were well-known in the community. The architect of their home is unknown.

In 1916, their five-year-old son, Lewis Shaw Coleman, Jr., died. In 1918, Coleman's wife died at age 32, less than a week after Coleman registered for the World War I draft.

Coleman married his second wife, Irene Madry Coleman, in 1929. At the age of 48, Coleman died on June 22, 1934. His oldest son, Miller Lewis Coleman is pictured below. He died in 1982 in Aurora at the age of 73.

City of Aurora

According to the 2020 census, the population of Aurora was 7,254. Aurora is around 30 miles southwest of Springfield, Missouri.

During the mining boom in 1885, Aurora began to grow. It was originally established in 1870. By the time the mining business was declining by 1910, the population started to drop.

One of the business moguls in Aurora was McCord Lafayette Coleman. He operated six lumber yards and a hardware business. His milling company in Lawrence County was the largest. He was also the president of a local bank. He had Jersey milk cows and a large apple orchard. His only son was Lewis Shaw Coleman.

Lewis Coleman's wife was the daughter of another business mogul, Thomas Alexander Miller. Miller also had a lumber business in Aurora. He expanded his business to Arkansas with 10 lumber yards in addition to sawmills. Miller, Missouri is named after him. In 1915, Miller was elected mayor of Aurora.

The family who purchased the Coleman House lived there for over 50 years. Other families have owned and cared for the house.

National Register of Historic Places

Besides the Coleman House being listed on the NRHP, the following properties in Lawrence County Missouri are also listed:

  • Lawrence County Courthouse (Mount Vernon, MO)
  • Pierce City Fire Station, Courthouse, and Jail
  • Lawrence County Bank Building (Pierce City MO)
  • Old Spanish Fort Archeological Site (near Mount Vernon, MO)

Interestingly, Thomas Alexander Miller had the construction contract for the Lawrence County Courthouse in 1900.

Thanks for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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