Carthage, MO

Explore the stunning architecture of the historic Phelps Country Estate in Carthage, Missouri

CJ Coombs
Photo of the main house at the Phelps Country Estate east of Carthage, Missouri.Photo byVanessaezekowitz, CC-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

An area of 9.6 acres presents the historic Phelps Country Estate that was developed between around 1900 and 1904. That was over a century ago. The estate is located close to Carthage, Missouri (Jasper County). This two-story diverse house represents an architectural style of Late Victorian but also includes elements of Beaux Arts, Classical Revival, and Romanesque

Locally quarried Carthage marble was used to construct this prominent building. The interior of this house contains quality oak and cherry woodwork. Visit here to see many stunning photos of its interior.

On August 29, 1983, this house was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The red tile-hipped roof and tall chimneys are attention seekers as well as the wrap-around verandah. A simple hip roof consists of four sloping sections of equal length that meet at a common ridge for a square or rectangular appearance. (Source.) 

Also on the property are other buildings contributing to the NRHP listing: a large barn, carriage house, caretaker’s cottage, well house, silo, and workshop. 

This historic property has also been referred to as the William H. Phelps Country House or Maplelane Farms. The yards contain maple trees and fenced pastures. The contractor for the home was a well-known general contractor, P. J. McNerney.

Phelps was noted to be one of the best lawyers in Southwest Missouri. He was also a politician, investor, and farmer.

William Harlow Phelps

 Phelps was born in 1845 in Hinsdale, New York, and had his legal training in Albany. In 1867, he came to Missouri and lived in Carthage. It didn’t take long for his practice to grow. He also became involved with politics in the Democratic party. 

Even though Jasper County was Republican, Phelps ran for the state legislature and was elected to the Missouri House in 1874 for which he served one term. For years, he also served on the Democratic State Executive Committee. A railroad attorney, he served as general counsel for Missouri Pacific for 25 years.

On November 25, 1894, his wife, Lois Jane Wilson Phelps, died in a carriage accident in St. Louis at age 48. They had three children, Florence, Helene, and William. Both Florence and William were born deaf, and they met their future spouses while attending a school for the deaf in Washington D.C.

In 1902, Phelps left the railroad to tend to his daughter, Helene, who was diagnosed with tuberculosis. She died the following year at the young age of 29. After that, Phelps was involved in campaigning for a tuberculosis hospital in Jasper County. 

You could say Phelps wore several hats in his life. He also remarried in 1905, to Bridgey O’Leary, and had two more children, Cyrus (who died at age 7 after being struck by a vehicle while on his bicycle), and George

Phelps went back to politics and served two terms in the Missouri House and in 1914, he was elected state Senator. In the summer of 1916, he traveled to Rochester, Minnesota to the Mayo Clinic regarding kidney issues he had been having. He ended up having surgery for bladder stones but died five days later at the age of 70 on July 26. Phelps was laid to rest in Park Cemetery in Carthage, as are other Phelps family members. 

The life of the house

By glancing at the Phelps Country Estate structure, it represents the wealth, success, and prominence of Phelps in the community. The size of this home wasn’t common in smaller communities as compared to what you might see in Missouri’s more populated cities like Kansas City or St. Louis.

Phelps’ second wife, Bridgey, lived in the house until 1959 at which time she sold it to the St. Ann’s Catholic Church Parish. It was used as a home for nuns who were teachers at St. Ann’s School. Bridgey moved to the Drake Hotel and she lived there until she died in 1962 at age 91.

In 1988, Carthage Historic Preservation, Inc. purchased the Phelps House from St. Ann’s to restore the building back to its glory days. It could be used for tours and events. On its website, its lists the address as 1146 Grand Avenue, Carthage, Missouri.

According to the Estately website, the house was listed for $1,575,000 in December 2021. The Redfin real estate site indicates the house sold for under that figure. The NRHP nomination form, the address for the house was RR 1, 10th Street Road, about four miles northwest of Carthage.

Thanks for reading. There’s always a story in a story. 

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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, and I retired early so I could be a writer all day. You could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri because I was born into the Air Force life. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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