Washington, Stephen Jones, and Our Inn
Daniel Boone and many of his family and followers settled across the river from Washington beginning in 1799. But it wasn’t until post-revolutionary Americans took control of the area that it was renamed Washington Landing, its namesake, of course, being president George Washington himself. It was aptly named Washington Landing since in 1814, a ferry boat had received licensing to begin ferrying goods and passengers across the Missouri River.
William G. Owens and his wife Lucinda would settle the area in 1818, purchasing much of the land that now makes up downtown Washington. They began drawing plans to create a town and laying out the lots they would later sell at auction in 1829.
The surrounding land plots were sold to settlers who could recoup the cost of the land if they built a substantial home and established residency within two years of purchase.
Washington’s early settlers were made up of twelve German Catholic families who moved to the area in 1833. Their community church still stands today and is a part of Washington’s self-guided historical tour (click to download a guide booklet for the tour).
In 1834, William G. Owens was tragically murdered tying up the logistics and legalities of the town’s inauguration. It wasn’t until May 29, 1839, that Owen’s widow, Lucinda was able to file a plat of the town at the county courthouse. The city of Washington was officially established.
Stephen M. Jones
Stephen Jones, a Mexican War Veteran and twice mayor of Washington, was the original builder, owner, and namesake of Stephen Jones House Inn.
Though the Inn wouldn’t be built until 1883, the land it would come to reside upon was purchased in 1850. It’s purchaser, Stephen Jones, fresh from his service in the Mexican War, was listed simply as a humble farmer. Jones was quick to put down roots, however, and throughout the next few decades stepped into such Washington leadership roles as treasurer, constable, collector, trustee, and sheriff.
During these years, he would also begin building his fortune. He started a mercantile business followed by a match-manufacturing business. His son James I. Jones had also reported that his father had done contract work on the railroad during its expansion through the area in the 1850s. Later in 1866, Stephen Jones would become a founder of the Washington Savings Bank serving as its president for a time. Upon the closure of the bank, he went into business with his eldest son Eugene, acting as a real estate, financial, and loan agent.
On May 31, 1883, an announcement was made in the local Washington newspaper Die Washingtoner Post, reads, “S. M. Jones completed his house on Jefferson Street. It is a pretty two story building with modern conveniences.”
In 1889, just six years after the completion of his home, Stephen Jones passed away. He had been an influential figure in Washington’s history. A public official for much of his life, he had served in such roles as treasurer, constable and collector, trustee, deputy, and sheriff. He had even served twice as Mayor of Washington, once from 1878 to 1879 and again a few years later in 1885 until 1887.
Stephen’s two sons, James and Eugene, inherited ownership of the home upon his passing. Eugene died a decade later in 1899 making James and his wife Lucy the sole owners of the property. They lived off and on in the house while also residing in St. Louis between the years of 1895 to 1920. James, like his father, was a businessman and held such public offices as postmaster and mayor. James and his wife retained ownership of the Jones Building until his passing in 1924.
The Stephen M. Jones Building is located at 108-110 Jefferson Street in what is the downtown historic district of Washington, Missouri.
Built in 1883, the two-and-a-half-story building has many architectural features common to Missouri-German buildings. Such features include its double entrance, red brick walls, detailed cornice, segmental arched windows, recessed front entry, iron balcony, paired gable-end chimneys and side-facing gable roofs. The inn is one of the largest and best preserved double entrance Missouri-German buildings within Washington.
In 1927, the house was sold to a Hilda Steuterman who maintained ownership of the property until the 1950s. It is believed Steuterman may have been responsible for dividing the building into four apartments as the 1931 Missouri City Directory lists four residents for 108-110 Jefferson Street.
Despite this division of the building, many of its historic features have remained intact. Its early doors and windows are all still in place as well as the original staircases, transoms, woodwork, and tall ceilings.