While I let the dust settle from the commotion of getting ready for the occupancy inspection and all the craziness the pandemic has created in the world, let's talk about the house's first occupants.
The house was built in 1878 for police officer Thomas Harrington and his family, Thomas, born in Ireland in 1841, purchased the land the house was built on in 1877 in an auction style sale; the opening bid was $2 per linear foot of street frontage, Thomas wound up paying $9.80 per foot. At 135 ft. of street frontage, that comes out to $1,323 ($32,000+ in today's dollars).
Prior to his purchase, Thomas lived in north city. Perhaps he decided to move to the area near Shaw's Garden and Tower Grove Park to escape the congestion of Old North St. Louis?
Thomas' wife Lucy A. (nee Blanchard), originally from Dover, MO and an 1858 graduate of Christian College (now known as Columbia College) in Columbia, MO, was a teacher at Gardenville School, a small school in a rural area southwest of downtown known as "Gardenville". The school was located at Gravois and Kingshighway, and there's a strong chance Lucy had to ride a horse or take some kind of horse-drawn something or other to get there and back. In 1907, the building most people in St. Louis know of as Gardenville School was built to replace the school Lucy taught at.
Thomas and Lucy had several children: Edward, Bessie, and Albert, who lived in the house I'm rehabbing, and Dora, born after the Harringtons sold the house and moved in 1883. While living in the house, the Harrington's employed a 20-something servant named Josephine Clark to help with the kids.
As for the kids, Edward was born in 1873 and lived until 1951. He never married, made a living as a pullman conductor, and lived in Hillsboro, MO at the time of his death.
I have no idea what became of Bessie.
Albert was born in 1879 and lived until 1912. Albert was married to a woman named Nina M. (nee Maret), and they had some number of kids. Before his life was cut short by tuberculosis, Albert worked as a clerk for one of the railroads.
The same fate befell Dorothy ("Dora"), who was born in 1888 and like her mom, became a school teacher. Dorothy never married, and passed away from tuberculosis at the Missouri State Sanitorium in Mt. Vernon, MO in 1923 at the age of 35.
Thomas died in 1909. Lucy died in 1911.
Between their common names and existence during a time when a variety of records were first starting to be preserved, it was tough to find out a whole lot about the Harringtons in general, let alone during the 5 years they occupied the house.
However...I've been told that the house's front door is original, and it's probably impossible to determine the validity of this. When I first started going to the house regularly to work on the place, a little plaque on the front door caught my eye. I took a picture, googled the meaning of the phrase when I went back home, and didn't think much of it other than maybe it was some kitschy door accoutrement put there by one of the buildings many occupants over the years.
But if the original owner of the place came to America from Ireland, and the door is original to the house...what are the odds this Gaelic phrase meaning "a hundred thousand welcomes" was put there by Thomas 142 years ago?