Between 1850 and 1900, as St. Charles was becoming a booming city along the Missouri River, the population grew by a whopping 432 percent! With thousands of new residents to serve, local religious leaders realized that they needed to build not only churches and schools but also cemeteries.
So around 1850, St. Peter’s German Catholic Church founded a cemetery near Boonslick and South Sixth Street. St. Paul’s Evangelical and Immanuel Lutheran soon followed, purchasing adjacent lots and opening cemeteries of their own. Of course somebody needed to maintain these sprawling graveyards, and that’s where my latest listing comes into play.
As you can see in this 1875 plat map of St. Charles, the cemeteries were located at the far edge of town, right next to land owned by the Honerkamp estate. At some point in the 1890s, Mr. Henry Honerkamp left his job as a coal digger and became the cemetery caretaker (or sexton), living in a small cottage at 917 South Sixth.
The cottage sat on nearly 2 acres and had a sweeping view of the graveyard. Henry lived there with his wife, Josephine, and four of their children until his death in 1903. (You can probably guess where he was buried.) A few years later, his daughter Adelia married a man named Clemens Schaefer and they moved into the cottage, sharing it with Josephine and two of her sons. Another son, David, took over as cemetery caretaker and lived in a house across the street.
Amazingly, Adelia Schaefer ended up living in the cottage for another 40 years! She was there so long that sometime around 1956 the city actually changed the address of her home from 917 South Sixth to 603 Schaefer Place.
These days, the house looks remarkably similar to how it did when Adelia owned it. At least on the outside. But inside you’ll find numerous updates, all with an eye toward preserving the historical charm…
The cottage still has a view of the cemeteries, though not quite as sweeping. And the lot has been whittled from 2 acres to .129 acre. But there’s still so much to love about this unique home, including this welcoming covered porch…
It’s the perfect place to drink morning coffee and watch the birds, or enjoy some wine and take in the sunset. Just remember to raise a glass to the Honerkamps and Schaefers, who are technically still your neighbors! 🙂
603 Schaefer Place has 2 bedrooms & 2 baths in 1440 square feet. It’s listed by me for $144,000 and is located just a few minutes from Main Street.
If you’d like to arrange a showing at this house or you need help buying or selling another vintage home (1980s or earlier), let me know!