Ravenswood Mansion Investigation, 8-18-07 Booneville MO.
The Ravenswood mansion was first built by Charles E. Leonard in 1880.
Some parts of the house, including the porch with its colums, were
added later. The house is still owned by the Leonard family. Jamie
Leonard, great-great-grandson of Charles E. Leonard, points out some
items in the library. Most of the books, shelves and furnishings in
the room were originally purchased by Charles and Nadine Leonard
around the turn of the 20th century.
Stepping onto Ravenswood Farm, located between Bunceton and Pilot
Grove in rural Cooper County, is like stepping back in time about
100 years. The old home, Ravenswood, has been kept largely in the way
its original owners kept the place in the early 1900s.
“When my grandparents were raising my dad and my uncle, they didn't
need the whole house for just the four of them,” said Jamie Leonard,
the sixth generation of Leonards to occupy Ravenswood. “So they just
left things like they had always been.”
The home has been open for tours to the public for many years.
“We do it for the public more than for ourselves or the family,” Leonard
said. “It's not very often you see a home like this with the original
furnishings and with the original family still owning it.”
The Leonard family was a prominent family dating back to the American
Revolution. Abiel Leonard was a captain and a chaplain in the
Continental Army under George Washington. The family even has a
letter of commendation for Abiel Leonard written by George Washington.
Charles Leonard, the current owner of Ravenswood, is a member of
the Order of Cincinnati, a society of male descendants of officers
in the American Revolution.
“There are about six members in Missouri,” Leonard said.
Abiel's son Nathaniel was a captain in the American army during the War
of 1812. He was the commander of Fort Niagara.
Nathaniel had two sons, Abiel and Nathaniel, who moved to central
Missouri in the early 1800s. Abiel settled in Franklin and later
moved to Fayette. He was a justice of the Missouri Supreme Court from
1855-57. Nathaniel established the farm at Ravenswood.
Nathaniel's son, Charles E. Leonard, built the large house which still
stands. He married Nadine Nelson, the daughter of a prominent Boonville banker.
“Nadine's father offered to build here a house either in Boonville or
out here in the country,” said Jamie Leonard. “She chose the country
because she knew he would also build her a house closer to him in
Boonville. And that's exactly what he did, right across the street
from his house.”
Other portions of the house were added later, including the columns,
which Jamie Leonard said were purchased from a house back east that
was being torn down and were shipped by train to Ravenswood.
“They had a railroad siding built right up to their property,” Leonard said.
The home is filled with authentic pieces purchased by Nadine and Charles
around the turn of the century. Among the treasures is a suit of armor
purchased in Europe by their son Nelson, Nadine's wedding dress, designed
by a Paris fashion designer, a dress worn by Nadine to Grover
Cleveland's 1888 inaugural ball, and a complete table and chairs purchased
from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.
“The pieces weren't for sale, but after the fair she offered a bid and
purchased them,” said Jamie.
The house is located 9 miles south of Boonville on
Hwy. 5. The home is open daily for tours.