Tucked away on a quiet ranch on the outskirts of Bonne Terre, sits a relic that hundreds unknowingly pass by every day. Here, the Hildebrand house has stood proudly for generations, watching over the rolling hills and valleys. The Hildebrand family, immigrants from Pennsylvania, homesteaded this land upon their arrival in Missouri in 1832. The family’s generational trade was stonemasonry, and with this skill, they built their home in its entirety with stone quarried from the nearby bluffs.
The Hildebrand family, immigrants from Pennsylvania, homesteaded this land upon their arrival in Missouri in 1832.
While living in the northeast, the Hildebrand’s became familiar with architectural designs not yet present in the west. Several of these design features were implemented in the construction of the family’s new Missouri home, making it one of the first of its kind west of the Mississippi. Examples of these standout eastern features would include the full stone construction, along with a centered front room staircase. The home would quickly become, and remain, a well- admired structure due to its uniqueness in the area.
Several of these design features were implemented in the construction of the family’s new Missouri home, making it one of the first of its kind west of the Mississippi.
The Hildebrand house throughout its life has been accompanied by acres of surrounding farmland. Here all 10 Hildebrand children, including notorious Civil War Bushwhacker Sam Hildebrand, worked the land under the authority of their father, George. On the Hildebrand farm they kept livestock including cattle and hogs, a trade that provided for the large family.
In 1863, during the midst of the American Civil War, the landmark home was struck by tragedy.
In 1863, during the midst of the American Civil War, the landmark home was struck by tragedy. Following an accusation of horse theft against Hildebrand brothers Sam and Frank, (by Union activist Firman McIlvaine) Federal troops were sent to the residence to avenge the crime. The house was set ablaze, gutting all within its walls. Though due to the heavy stonework, the home’s shell and foundation remained intact. Family matriarch Rebecca, and son Henry, were living in the home at this time. Rebecca and Sam escaped the attack with the aid of the family, but young Henry was killed by Federal gunfire while fleeing on horseback.
Over the next several decades, neglect and various ownerships would take a toll on the home. Signs of deterioration became prevalent, eventually putting the home in danger of disrepair or demolition.
Due to money and supplies shortages caused by the war, the charred house was not immediately repaired. Rebecca Hildebrand had been living in a small cabin near the home for years following the tragedy, and as an aging widow, chose not to take on such an ambitious task. Sometime in the 1870s, the Murphy family, cousins of the Hildebrand’s, took over the house and property. However, it wasn’t until around 1880 that the inside of the home was finally rebuilt. Amazingly, nearly all of these 1880s implements still remain in the house today, including features such as shelving, flooring, and furniture.
Over the next several decades, neglect and various ownerships would take a toll on the home. Signs of deterioration became prevalent, eventually putting the home in danger of disrepair or demolition. Though a glimmer of hope would come, when young couple Jennifer and Scott Speidel purchased the property in 2006.
...a glimmer of hope would come, when young couple Jennifer and Scott Speidel purchased the property...
In 2018, the couple began rehab, determined to bring the historical home back to its former glory. Upon asking the couple about their motives, Jennifer recalled it had always been their aspiration to save the home, and ultimately decided it was “now or never” after discovering the roof had given way. Sadly, components such as an addition and front porch also had to be demolished, though the crafty couple doesn’t believe in waste. Salvaged materials taken from the home and other structures on the property were reused in several projects. For example, the hand carved banisters of the former front porch are now the banisters of the home’s inner staircase.
After immeasurable time and passion, the Hildebrand house teams with life once again. It now serves as a vacation home that is friendly to any passing through family. Immentities include beds that sleep 12, two full kitchens, a full bath, an open concept, and outdoor patio with a firepit. A task of this magnitude, with no state financial assistance, can only be done by those as passionate as the Speidel’s. They are 573 Superheroes in our eyes.
"It’s rewarding knowing that a part of history was saved and is now going to be there for many years for countless other people to enjoy.” - Jennifer Speidel