Fayette, MO

Historic Edwin and Nora Payne Bedford House in Fayette, Missouri

CJ Coombs

Edwin and Nora Payne Bedford House, Fayette, Missouri.Photo byJim Roberts, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

On January 23, 1998, the Edwin and Nora Payne Bedford House located in Fayette, Missouri (Howard County) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's also a contributing property in the South Main Street Historic District.

This dwelling has also been referred to as the Thomas Payne House and the Benjamin Smith House because they also owned the home. 

This two-story house located at 308 South Main Street was built around 1860. It’s a brick I-house with three bays, and it has a two-story rear ell. In the front is a wide porch. This Late Victorian-style home has a stone and concrete foundation with weatherboard walls. The architect or builder of the home is unknown.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, some additions were built to the house. In 1901, there was some significant remodeling. The size of the property’s lot is a little over a one-half acre. The ornamental woodwork in the home was created and installed by Edwin Walton Bedford Jr. before he died in 1918.

Bedford's work includes two mantels, a door, a built-in China cabinet, parts of the ornate staircase, and a pair of scrollwork screens. (Source.)

The Bedford House isn’t far from Fayette’s courthouse square. Fayette was named after General Lafayette, in honor of his expected visit to the United States in 1823, the year the town was laid out. Fayette is also the county seat of Howard County and was incorporated in 1826.

The Bedford house represents an extended construction project which began as a small one-story dwelling and a couple of rooms before 1850. At that time, it was owned by Samuel Crews. In July 1850, a one-acre parcel of Crews’ property was sold to Beverly A. Shepperd and his wife. It could be that Shepperd built the original building. Interestingly, what was the early house is the dining room and part of the kitchen in the Bedford house. There was a large brick fireplace in the rear wall of the dining room that used to provide heat and a place to cook.

In January of 1867, another resident of the home, Benjamin Smith, sold the house and a total of 2.57 acres of land to Thomas Payne who was a banker and leader in the community. This property stayed in the Payne family for 119 years. When Payne died, the property was passed on to his daughter, Nora, and her husband, Edwin Walton Bedford. After that, it belonged to their son, Edwin Jefferson Bedford.

Thomas Payne and Edwin Walton Bedford both were engaged in the banking business. They were also leading citizens in Fayette.

Nora Payne Bedford also lived in this house from her childhood years until she died at age 86. She was also respected in the community. Their son (and I suspect named after her father), Thomas Payne Bedford, also lived in the house most of his life. As an active resident in the community, he served as a state representative for Howard County twice.

Nora's father, Thomas Payne, was born in Scott County, Kentucky in 1820, and moved to Missouri with his parents in 1822. His father, Robert Payne, was an early settler in Howard County. He moved his wife and young daughter to Fayette about 1862, and in 1867, he bought the property from Smith. He lived there with his family until his death 34 years later.

The Fayette Bank remained in operation, and in Payne's family, until the Great Depression. The bank operated out of a building located just a few blocks north of the house, on the courthouse square. (Source.)

Edwin was a cashier at Fayette Bank until his death. He and Nora lived with her parents. When their son, Thomas, was born, that may have initiated the expansion of the house.

Thomas Payne died on March 1, 1901. Just a few months after his death, Edwin and Nora bought the property from Payne’s widow, Martha Payne. Since she wasn’t part of the 1910 census, the assumption is she died not long after her husband. A major remodeling project followed the purchase.

Aside from perfecting his woodworking skills inside the home, Edwin also made several large pieces of furniture that stayed with the house into the 1980s. One of his last creations was a decorated walnut library table which he is said to have had an affinity for.

An inscription on the bottom of the table includes not only his signature but an explanation of how he got the wood to build it. It was fashioned from a massive walnut plank from Virginia which was brought to the area by an early settler. (Source.)

By 1920, the household was reduced to Nora and her sons. In 1918, Edwin died after an operation in St. Louis. He was 64. For 40 years, Nora worked as a primary school teacher. It’s interesting she lived in her childhood home until she died in 1943. For 40 years, Nora worked as a primary school teacher. It’s interesting she lived in her childhood home until she died in 1943.

The Bedford brothers both died in the 1950s, Edwin Jefferson in 1953, and Thomas in 1958. The house sat largely vacant for several decades after that. Relatives of Edwin Jefferson Bedford stayed there for some of the summer months, but the house was empty the rest of the time. (Source.)

Finally, in 1986, Edwin J.'s widow and daughter auctioned off the house and its contents. The furnishings stayed in the home just as they had when Edwin and Nora were alive, and their clothes were still hanging in the closets.

The furnishings and other contents were sold separately from the house. Edwin Bedford’s woodwork was in good condition at the time the house was nominated for the National Register.

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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