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Cabanne House Information
Most Saint Louisans are aware of the history of Forest Park, but few are aware of the significance of the Cabanne House, a St. Louis city landmark.
The Cabanne House we see today is actually the second house to bear that name. The first Cabanne House was built by Joseph Charless Cabanne for his new bride. He was a descendant of Joseph Charless, who founded the first St. Louis newspaper in 1808. He was also related to several early French families in the area. What later became the northeastern Show more portion of Forest Park was a part of the Cabanne dairy farm tract. That section was purchased by the City of St. Louis during the assembly of land tracts for Forest Park in the mid1870s. This house survived until the 1880s, when it was torn down.
The current Cabanne House is situated in a wooded site near the Union Avenue entrance to Forest Park. Constructed in 1875 from plans drawn by St. Louis architect James H. McNamara, the Second Empire style house was conceived as part of the original Master Plan for Forest Park. The Cabanne House was completed in June 1876, in time for the formal dedication of Forest Park.
The house was used as a residence for park superintendents and commissioners for many years. Its rooms have 14 foot ceilings, tall windows, and decorative marble mantels. The mansard roof is a hallmark of midVictorian architecture of the period following the Civil War.
The houses exterior has survived more than 100 years with only minor alterations. In 1942, interior alterations and additions to the rear of the building were undertaken to provide living quarters for the St. Louis Parks and Recreation Commissioner. One such commissioner who lived in the house was John D. Ayres, grandfather of actor Gregory Peck.
The house was damaged by fire in 1966 and remained vacant until the city Beautification Commission used it as their office in 1967. Since the early 1980s the building has been the home of The Saint Louis Ambassadors, who have strived to preserve and maintain the historic nature of the house. The executive offices of The Saint Louis Ambassadors currently occupy the second floor of the structure.
In 2006 Cabanne House was the Saint Louis Symphony Volunteer Association Showhouse. Numnerous designers and contractors renovated the Cabanne House bringing new life to this gem in Forest Park. The total value of the renovation exceeded $600,000.