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History of Hanley House

Location: 7600 Westmoreland
Clayton, MO 63105
Source: City records; Internet search
* Hanley House volunteers are needed.
Contact Sarah. J. Umlauf, Community Resource Coordinator (314) 290-8553

Hanley House
"May 16, 1855, "Billy commenced digging cellar at 12 o'clock,"
- Entry from Martin Franklin Hanley's "Day Book".

Hanley House is the only rural landmark in the modern city of Clayton, and today is a house museum, revealing the personal story of the Hanley family and providing a link to the past before Clayton emerged as the county seat in 1878. Martin Franklin Hanley came to St. Louis in 1837 from Virginia. He started his life in Missouri at the age of twenty-two, settling on land eight miles west of the riverfront. At first he established himself as a blacksmith, making ploughs, repairing local farmers' tools, and shoeing horses. This prosperous business, however, started to decline due perhaps to the rapid industrialization, which produced cheaper farm implements in cities such as Pittsburgh and floated them west on the rivers.

At this point Hanley began developing a farm on land acquired form his partner as his share from the failing business. Experiencing constant financial difficulties, Hanley was not able to cultivate his land extensively. Part of it he used as a truck garden, part he leased for grazing. In these years of hardship for the growing family, Hanley built the large farmhouse, choosing the highest point of his property. The year 1857, when Hanley's family moved into the house, also marked the watershed between his blacksmithing career and his practice of farming. After the 1870s the family almost completely ceased cultivation. In 1878 Martin and his wife Cyrene donated four acres of land toward the newly created county seat, Clayton. The last occupants of the Hanley House were Martin's wife and his unmarried daughter Nancy Caroline, whose niece sold the house to the city of Clayton in 1968. For 113 years members of the Hanley family lived in the old farmhouse. It survives in an almost original condition, with no change or loss of furnishings. Like the Bisssell House, the Hanley House was cared for and preserved by its original owners. The Hanley house passed through the century in an unaltered state, its sober Greek Revival doorway, porch, and roof gable never touched by an intention to renovate.

....see Hanley Family History >>