Steamboat Gothic

St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles

  Walz House, located on the city's southside at 4708 S. Broadway, was built in 1819 for Hiram Paddleford, who also owned a "shot" tower on the property, used in the manufacture of lead bullets during the Civil War. Both the house and shot tower were positioned at a high vantage point, on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.

  In 1852, the house was sold to Charles L. Tucker, agrain-mill operator. Far below the house and attached to the side of Tucker's Bluff, the Iron Mountain Railroad built a train station in 1858. Passengers accessed Itaska Street via narrow stairway that climbed to the top of the bluff from the tracks below.

  The house changed hands once more, in 1875, before being acquired by Fredrick Hoffman in 1907. His daughter, Mrs. Herman F. Walz, inherited the property in 1936. A catastrophic fire in 1979 led to the demolition of this city landmark in 1982, though the old shot tower - the only one left on the St. Louis riverfront - survives.

  Situated on a slope toward the river, the Gothic Revival-style home stood three stories high facing Broadway and five stories high on the river side. The home's fanciful wood ornamentation - "gingerbread" - was characteristic of this Victorian architectural style, though the large "galeries" or colonnaded verandas facing the river derived from the French Colonial vernaculars. the house was a landmark for 19th-century steamboat captains cruising the Mississippi.

  Mark Widmann acquired the 1.5-acre property in October 2000. Widmann, who owns the Randall Gallery, a popular special-events facility downtown, plans to build a new home on the site later this year.