Downing House Museum

The Downing House Museum

South Main Street Memphis, Missouri

Built in 1858 - National Register of Historic Places 1979

This stately 14 room brick museum, designed by Thomas Broadwater of Virginia, denotes a Greek Revival Style, with its three story tower it conveys a strong Italianate character. The Downing Family was from Virginia and were wealthy. William G. Downing married Mary Jones, daughter of the first sheriff of Scotland County. After the marriage William G. went back to Virginia and returned with 12 slaves, 10 men and 2 women and prepared to build the home. There were 14 original rooms in the house with 8 fireplaces, 6 porches, and 15 doors to the outside. The slaves built a kiln and burnt brick for the house which took 2 years to complete. William and Mary Downing were the parents of 10 children and also raised 2 orphaned nieces in their home. During the Civil War Union Soldiers used the Downing House as Headquarters, and rode their horses in through the 10 foot doors. Prisoners were also kept in the house. On September 1, 1978, the Scotland County Historical Society purchased the property and have been restoring and renovating the house to its original condition. Period furnishings have been donated to outfit many of the rooms. One of the most interesting exhibits at the Downing House is the life size model of Ella Ewing, the Missouri Giantess. Ella, born in 1872 in Scotland County, died at age 40 in 1913. She was 8 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 277 pounds and in her youth was an attraction in the P.T. Barnum Circus. Several other memorial rooms are devoted to Scotland Countys history, including a vintage barber shop, Civil War relics, early aviation history, and other interesting glimpses into the past.

The Boyer Memorial House & Museum. In June of 1987, the Keith and Ruth Boyer Family donated the house to the North of the Downing House as a memorial to his parents, Wallace and Lucille Boyer. This two story frame house had originally been an addition to the Downing House during the time it was a hotel. It was removed and moved to its present location about 1917. It also houses exhibits and memorabilia.

The Depot also located on the Downing House complex is the old Memphis C. B. & Q. RR. Depot which was moved to the site when the railroad through Memphis was discontinued.

Tours of the Downing House Musuem are available to the public during the period from May until October. Call 465-2275