La Grange, MO

The Dr. J.A. Hay House: this 169-year-old home was restored and the kitchen is beautiful

CJ Coombs
Historic Dr. J.A. Hay House.Photo byNyttend, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

This mid-19th-century Greek Revival house, the Dr. J. A. Hay House, was built around 1854. The building is also referred to as the Nelson House. It's located at 406 West Monroe Street in La Grange, Missouri. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 3, 1999.

This two-and-a-half-story brick home has a one-and-a-half-story rear ell and all sit on a stone foundation. The house has a side hall entrance that's under a porch. The rear ell isn't original, but it's more than 50 years old. This house was last sold in 2022 according to the Redfin real estate website. Visit here to see the images including the restored condition of the exterior.

The front door is surrounded by a rectangular transom. The house also includes Italianate scrolled brackets at the roofline. At the time the house was nominated for the National Register, it was one of the most historically intact houses of its type in town. The house remained in the Hay family until the 1880's when it was purchased by a man named R. M. Nelson.

Dr. Joseph A. Hay

Dr. Hay was born in Kentucky. There were two practicing physicians in La Grange during the 1840s and he was one of them. Dr. Hay practiced his profession into the 1860s. He was also involved with other businesses and he was active in local and state government.

In 1852, Dr. Hay won a seat in the state legislature and a year later, he was one of the officers of La Grange after it was incorporated. In 1862, he was appointed United States Assessor for the entire northern half of Missouri which could have been a result of his alleged relationship with President Lincoln.

In 1864, Dr. Hay became the senior partner in a pork packing business. In 1865, nine men and their wives, including Joseph and Elizabeth Hay, came together to file a plat for North La Grange. Dr. Hay and some of the men got together again to plat the final extension of the city limits.

After Dr. Hay left his federal role in 1870, he became mayor of La Grange. In 1872, less than a year before he died, he purchased F. S. Hardesty's Drugstore. Dr. Hay was also influential in the northern expansion of La Grange.

According to the Find-a-Grave website, the following was published in the Illinois State Journal on July 11, 1873 (the content is verbatim from the site):

Dr. Hay was a brother of the Hon. Milton Hay, and though a Kentuckian by birth, was raised in this city. He studied medicine, and graduating at the St. Louis Medical College, removed to LaGrange where he practiced his profession with distinguised success. Dr. Hay, at one time, represented St. Louis county in the Missouri Legislature, and for several years held the office of U. S. Assessor, in the LaGrange district. At the time of his death he was Mayor of LaGrange. He leaves a large number of relatives and a host of friends in this city to mourn his death. (Source.)

Dr. Joseph Addison Hay died on July 10, 1873, at the age of 53 or 54. His wife, Elizabeth Prentice Hay died on March 4, 1894, at age 69-70. There are four children listed on the Find-a-Grave website who are deceased.

There's always a story in a story. It's amazing to learn about historic buildings and houses, including how some have survived over a century. Importantly, however, are the stories about the people who brought life to them.

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Multi-genre writer and author/publisher with a BA in Eng Journalism/Creative Writing. I worked in law firms for 30+ years and retired early to pursue writing. I was born into the Air Force, so you could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, research, history, true crime, reading, art, and travel.

Kansas City, MO

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