AT THE HISTORIC SHAPLEY ROSS HOUSE THE PAST IS JUST A MOMENT AWAY...
The Historic Shapley Ross House, c. 1820
Located in Moscow Mills, Missouri
(less than 1 hour north of downtown St. Louis)
Where "The Past is Just a Moment Away!"
Shapley Ross, builder/owner of the house was born in Virginia in 1763 to a Scotsman, Lawrence Ross and his wife Susan joining a long line of noble and prominent ancestors. The Ross family ancestry can be traced to the signing of the Magna Carta (1215), and includes not only King John himself but also fourteen of the twenty-five Barons who enforced the new code of English law.
Lawrence Ross moved his family from Virginia to Kentucky settling on Bear Grass Creek in Jefferson County. Owning much land on Bear Creek and having established a large plantation, Lawrence Ross and his son, Shapley, became two of the ten original proprietors who founded Louisville, Kentucky.
In 1817 Shapley Ross moved his large household from Kentucky to the Missouri Territory settling in the area of present day Moscow Mills. After acquiring a grist and saw mill on the Quivre River near Clark's Fort, Shapley Ross began construction of the stone house on the hill overlooking the mill and the river, most likely built in part by his slaves. The house is believed to have been completed in 1820, the same year as The Missouri Compromise.
In 1821, the year in which Missouri became the 21st state to enter the Union, Shapley Ross and three other proprietors platted the town of "Moscow" as a competing point for the county seat, naming it after the military exploits of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in Russia. Shapley Ross was recorded as the largest taxpayer in the county in that year owning 504 acres of land, a grist and saw mill, the stone house, town lots, a watch and other items including slaves. He was taxed the sum of $12.40 1/4.
Shapley Ross died in 1823 leaving besides his widow Mary Prince Ross, eight children, seven of whom, at the time of his death, were married and living in the vicinity of Moscow Mills. He also left behind 29 slaves as recorded in his will. The widow Mary remained in the home until 1831 at which time she sold the house and two lots to Henry Martin, the first merchant of Moscow Mills.
In 1830 Shapley Prince Ross, son of Shapley Ross, married Catherine Fulkerson of St. Charles County and in 1839 left Missouri for the frontier in Texas where he became a Captain of the famous Texas Rangers. His son, Lawrence Sullivan Ross, obtained rank of Brigadier General of the 6th Texas Cavalry during the Civil War, served two terms as the Governor of Texas (1886-1891), and was appointed president of Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College (Texas A & M).
The Shapley Ross House, c. 1820, is a two story residence constructed of native limestone and is a rare example of fine stonework masonry and Georgian-styled architecture. The ten foot ceilings, eighteen inch walls, and "nine over nine" windows enclose two large rooms on each floor, separated by a wide central hallway graced by the original staircase with a delicate walnut handrail. Ornamental scrollwork adorns the side of the staircase risers.
There are four fireplaces, all in working condition; three of which retain their original carved mantels. The mantels showcase some of the best Robert Adams styling west of the Mississippi River including sunburst medallions, fluted pilasters and cornice. The chimneys at each end of the home measure 84 x 58 inches. The hand-carved woodwork and six panel doors, the random width floor boards, and the linen press closets throughout the house are original and also also adorned with Adamesque motifs.
The full basement features 20 original 19 foot black walnut log ceiling beams. The basement windows are encased by horizontal animal bars installed in original wood-pegged frames.
After the house was sold by Shapley's widow in 1831, the house was occupies by numerous owners and tenants and was subjected to many architectual changes; however, the house remained structurally sound.
In 1948 the home was purchased by W. A. Depping, a Moscow Mills merchant (1900-1955), in order to preserrve the house at its original location, as a similar structure had been dismantled and removed to Clarksville, Missouri in 1930.
Restoration of the Shapley Ross House began in 1966 by Mildred Depping and her sister Irene Depping Langford. The funding for this 8 year restoration project was provided entirely by them.
It was the determined efforts and the countless hours of thankless work by these two women that enabled the house to be restored and placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in October 1972 by the Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. The restoration was recognized for both its historical and archiectural significance. The official dedication of the restoration was held on May 19, 1974.
The house is currently owned and preserved by Charles and Laura Depping Meyer of Moscow Mills, Missouri. It is their hope that the house be preserved and kept on its original site as a house museum so that future generations will be able to visit the home of Shapley Ross, the founder of the town now known as Moscow Mills, Missouri.
In the summer of 2012 the house went through some extensive renovations including period wallpaper, refinshed floors, painting and furniture aquisitions.
In the year 2020, the house will celebrate its bicentennial!