General Daniel Bissell House
10225 Bellefontaine Road
8 a.m. to one half hour past official sunset, except when reservations are issued.
The General Daniel Bissell House was built between 1812 and 1820 and is an outstanding and early example of the Federal style of architecture in the Missouri Territory. Daniel Bissell was an important figure in the early military history of the region, and the house reflects its occupancy by five generations of his family before they gave it to St. Louis County in 1961 with many of its original furnishings. The house is open for tours by advance reservation only.
Daniel Bissell was born in Bolton, Connecticut in 1768. As a boy of nine he enlisted in the Connecticut militia as a fifer during the Revolutionary War. Bissell returned to the military when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1788, and he rose quickly through the ranks. In 1802 he was given command of Fort Massac, near Cairo, Illinois, where he also served as the port of entry inspector and collector. In 1809, as a lieutenant colonel, Bissell was appointed military commander of the Upper Louisiana Territory and took command of Cantonment Belle Fontaine, later known as Fort Belle Fontaine. This military post had been established in 1805 in the bottom lands of the Missouri River about five miles west of the confluence with the Mississippi River. It was the first American military post west of the Mississippi River. Bissell found conditions at the fort to be unhealthy and the buildings in poor repair. He also considered the site to be in a poor strategic position. In 1810 Bissell received authorization to relocate the fort on higher ground and completed the rebuilding effort in 1811. The fort was later abandoned after the army constructed Jefferson Barracks in 1826. Today part of the site is Fort Belle Fontaine Park.
With the onset of the War of 1812, Bissell was promoted to a full colonel, and in 1814 he given a brevet promotion to brigadier-general and assigned a brigade in Izard's Right Division at Plattsburgh. He commanded this brigade throughout 1814 and won a tactical draw at the small action fought at Lyon's Creek or Cooks' Mills, Canada, on October 19, 1814.
In 1815, after Bissell returned to the St. Louis area from the war, he began to construct this brick house around a stone kitchen that dated back to 1812. Using slave labor the house was constructed in stages and was finished by 1819. The placement of the house at the top of a rise and the fine proportions of the Federal Style home made the house a prominent landmark in the sparsely populated area north of St. Louis and east of the village of Florissant.
In 1821 General Bissell left the military and retired to his estate which he called Franklinville Farm. He built up the estate to 2300 acres and became a prominent community leader in the early affairs of the St. Louis area. He lived in the house with his wife Deborah and their four children until his death in 1833. His family remained there for nearly 150 years, each successive generation contributing to the house and its furnishings. The Classic Revival front doorway and ground floor mantels date from the 1840s. The Victorian frame wing was added about 1890 to replace the detached stone kitchen. The Bissell House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
In the early 1960s the house and what remained of Franklinville Farms was donated to St. Louis County. A variety of historical and recreational activities are offered throughout the year including costumed reenactments, fairs, lectures and seminars.
Currier & Ives: Purveyors of Cheap & Popular
In the mid-to-late 19th century few decorative items were more popular than a Currier & Ives print. The New York City based printmaker and publisher led by Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives produced more than 7,500 lithographs over 72 years of operation. Artists produced two to three new images each week and the business partners cranked out lithographic prints that were each colored by hand and sold for 25-cents to $3 to an eager public wanting to decorate their homes with a touch of sophistication, beauty, history, or humor. This exhibit presents a few select original prints in the Bissell House collection that offer a peek into the style and substance of Currier & Ives.
Tours of the exhibit and historic home are by appointment only and cannot be guaranteed on the same day. We can accommodate tours up to 20 people.
Cost is $4 per adult (13+); $2 per child (8-12); children ages 7 and younger are free
To schedule a tour call (314) 615-8800 or email us at Pmailbox@stlouisco.com.
Educational Programs & Activities
Bissell House offers unique educational opportunities for children to step into the text book and experience history first-hand. Programs are appropriate for children grades 4 - 12.
Bissell House hosts a variety of historical and recreational activities throughout the year such as concerts, costumed reenactments, craft classes and fairs, lectures and seminars.
Interested in getting married in the Mansion Garden or booking an event in the Bissell Barn? Click here to contact our wedding site coordinator.