Liberty, MO

Exploring the historic Clinton House: a Southern-style home from the 1800s in Liberty, Missouri

CJ Coombs
Clinton House, Liberty, Missouri.Photo by25or6to4, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Clinton House is a historic home located at Liberty, Missouri (Clay County). The architectural style is Italianate Asymmetrical. On November 22, 1978, the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The then-listed owners of the house called the house, Belle Maison.

This house consists of a two-story veranda with a railed porch. The entrances for cross ventilation reflect a Southern influence in the building. The two-story house is at the corner of South Leonard and Groom Streets. It is a brick dwelling on a rubble stone foundation. The front of the house faces east.

The house is noted as being a significant residential structure in Liberty. It’s unclear what the exact date of the construction of the house is. What’s known is that it is associated with Southern architecture and it seems to showcase the start of early settlers in Clay County.

Originally, this house was located south of the city limits of Liberty. It was also on the road from Liberty to the Liberty Landing on the Missouri River. This property was included in a purchase made by Captain John Groom in 1887. He was prominent in Clay County. Groom also served as Sheriff and Collector of Revenue. He took his purchase of the land and offered lots of the same up for sale.

At the time of Groom’s purchase, the house had not yet been built. The lots associated with the house property were lots 45, 46, and 47. Nancy Clinton purchased these lots. She was the first individual who owned this property for a long time, and her home was locally referred to as Clinton place. With 1889 being the year the lots were jointly sold, it seems plausible this may be close to the year the house was built.

Also, in 1889, there were heightened increases in property sales in Liberty and Clay County. Where the house is built is land made available for refugees to settle who were affected by the 1819 New Madrid earthquake.

Additionally, though, because of the amount of money Clinton paid for lots 46 and 47, a house might have already been on the property.

John and Nancy Clinton

Nancy Clinton was a native of Ireland and born about 1825. When she was very young, her family came to the United States settling in St. Louis.

Later, she married John Clinton who was also a native of Ireland. They moved to Clay County in 1851 living in Liberty for three years. They relocated to a farm that was southwest of Liberty which is also where John died on December 8, 1875, at age 53 or 54.

Nancy, then a widow, had her sons, Thomas and George, living with her, and according to census information, they were farmers. In 1887, Nancy sold some of the land including farm equipment and cattle. After she made the sale, she bought property in the Groom’s Addition. She was living on Leonard Street in 1900 with her children, Thomas and Mary, who weren’t married and considered “money-lenders.”

Nancy passed away on August 22, 1903, at age 77 or 78. She has an impressive grave marker at Mount Memorial Cemetery in Liberty, Missouri. According to Find-a-Grave, John and Nancy had five children who included John, Thomas, George, and Mary. Her Will did not indicate what was to happen to the house which was litigated and the house went to the highest bidder leaving the profit to be divided between the heirs.

Mary Ann Clinton

In early 1907, it was Nancy’s daughter, Mary Ann Clinton, who bought the house at the courthouse in Clay County. With Mary Ann being a bit of a recluse, and having “a reputation of being very shrewd with money,” there is little known about her.

According to the NRHP nomination form, Mary Ann died in 1938. Her Will left everything to the children of her deceased brother, George. Litigation started again, leaving her property to a nephew, George W. Clinton.

The house was empty for a while after Mary Ann’s death. Eventually, members of the Clinton family managed the property (they were also members of a realty firm). At some point during the 1940s, they modernized the house to include plumbing and heating.

The Clinton family sells the house

There were times the Clinton family rented the house. It would stay in their family until it was sold in 1961. It was sold again in 1970 who were the owners at the time the house was being nominated for the NRHP. They called the house Belle Maison. According to a late September 2012 view of the home on Google Maps, there was a For Sale sign in the yard.

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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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