Centralia, MO

The magnificent historic Chatol House in Centralia, Missouri: home of F. Gano and Anna Lee Toalson Chance

CJ Coombs

The Chance Guest House in Centralia, Missouri.Photo byHornColumbia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

On July 3, 1979, the Chatol House & Gardens in Centralia, Missouri was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The house has also been referred to as The Chatol, The White House, or The Chance Guest House. This was where F. Gano and Annie Chance lived.

Built in 1940, the house was restored and is now known as the Chatol House & Gardens. You can see why it appears to be a great venue for weddings or other important events. Click here to see some interior images.

The architectural styles are Streamline Moderne and International. The living space includes over 10,000 sq. ft. and it has a large ballroom that is vaulted.

At the time the NRHP nomination form was being processed, the home was in the Chance family and owned by Gil and Tam Stone (Gil is a Chance descendant). Interestingly, F. Gano Chance's father was Albert Bishop Chance who also has a historic house and garden added to the NRHP.

The F. Gano Chance House consists of two stories and is U-shaped. The architectural style is International, also known as Depression Modern. Interestingly, the house hasn’t had any settling issues since the site used to be a swamp.

There is definitely a modern appeal to this home. There is curving to the walls in the dining room, living room, sunroom, and kitchen area for breakfast on the main floor. The breakfast room has a cutaway in the ceiling for recessed lighting. Likewise, the living room also has a cutaway with curving recesses for lighting. The lighting fixtures were specially designed for the house. There’s also a teakwood bar that curves.

The furniture in the dining room is Honduras mahogany which was originally carved for the Chicago world’s Fair in 1933 as an exhibit. Later, it was acquired for the house. The stairway was designed by F. Gano Chance. It’s made of stainless steel. There are other features of the house he designed. The house also had communications, burglar, and fire alarm systems. The grounds used to have an orchard and a garden. There was also a tea house and a fish pond, and even a steam-heated dog kennel.

Chance family

F. Gano (“Gano”) was the President and Chairman of the Board of the internationally known A. B. Chance Manufacturing Company based in Centralia.

Gano’s grandfather, John A. Chance, a native of Illinois, moved to Missouri and purchased a farm north of Centralia. He operated a store and a hotel. His son, Albert Bishop Chance (“A.B.”), was born in Centralia in 1873. He was known for his inventions.

In 1896, both John and A.B. started to install the town’s first telephone system. Their company was called the Centralia Telephone Company. They built the first phone exchange in Macon, Missouri. Later, they sold this company. 

In 1900, they connected Centralia and Columbia by telephone wire and called their company the Home Telephone Company. In 1907, A.B. established a manufacturing company in Centralia called the A.B. Chance Company.

In 1912, a lot of telegraph lines that A.B. had helped to string up came down in a bad winter storm. To ensure the telephone poles stayed up in storms, he invented the Never-Creep Anchor. This laid the groundwork for his company which continued to grow through the 1920s. Later, his company would be involved with the automotive supply business.

A.B.’s company, like others, was affected by the Depression. Sales dropped dramatically by 1932. In that year, the company was incorporated, and stock was sold outside of the family. In 1934, the company began to acquire companies. In 1961, the Pitman Manufacturing Company of Grandview, Missouri was acquired. They made hydraulically-powered equipment.

The same year a modern, engineering research center in Centralia was completed equipped to proof-test new products and product improvements. Today it is one of the most complete electro-mechanical facilities of its type in the world. (Source.)

Acquisitions continued as well as incredible financial success.

Albert’s son, F. Gano (“Gano”), was named after his mother, Frances Gano, who was from Kansas City. She also graduated from the University of Missouri in 1929 with degrees in Liberal Arts and Chemical Engineering.

In 1932, Gano became the company’s vice president after it was incorporated. He became the president of the company in 1939 and A.B. was the Chairman of the Board. 

Gano was involved with civic organizations and the school board. He was also a former president of the Missouri State Chamber of Commerce. After Gano retired, he was a world traveler and photographer. 

Hubbell Power Systems, Inc. (HPS) acquired A. B. Chance Company in 1994 and with it, CHANCE® foundation solutions. (Source.)

There are a few examples of the International or Depression Modern styles in domestic architecture known to exist in Missouri: (1) 7 Warson Terrace in St. Louis County; (2) Emil J. Roher residence in Kansas City, Missouri (4425 Terrace Street built in 1938); and (3) the Walter E. Bixby residence (6505 State Line Road, Kansas City, Missouri (ca. 1937).

The Chance family built an incredible legacy in Centralia. The Chance House represents a piece of all of Gano's success.

Gano passed away on at age 76 on June 6, 1981. His wife, Anna Lee Toalson Chance passed away at age 81 on March 11, 1988. Two children were listed on the Find-a-Grave website: Philip Gano Chance (b. 1933, d. 2005), and John Hardin Chance (b. 1937, d. 2021).

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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