Benjamin Webster Home (current site of Webster Hall)

[Benjamin Webster home]

Benjamin Franklin Webster (1835-1903) was born in Boston, Massachusetts and came to the St. Louis area as a young child. He attended Amherst College and later returned to the midwest to become a lawyer.

Webster was actively involved in real estate, being a partner in the Sterling and Webster Land Title Office. He purchased an existing home at what is now 470 E. Lockwood (the present site of Webster Hall (Webster University administration building) in the late 1870s only to sell it to the Sisters of Loretto in 1897.

The transaction almost didn't take place as the Sisters of Loretto were originally looking at property further west in an area known as Webster Park. The attorney who was helping the order scout for available properties alerted them as to the advantages of the Webster site: "It is a most magnificent location, the foliage on same is very beautiful and in my judgement, much more attractive than the other site...you would have two car-lines, one running at your front and the other at rear, both of which lines touch all of the prominant little towns in the country as well as reaching all parts of the City of St. Louis" (Wade, 1897).

After purchasing the Webster homestead in 1897, the Sisters of Loretto opened an academy for girls in 1898. Tragedy struck when the building was destroyed by fire in 1905. Fortunately all of the Sisters and their students were able to escape unhurt. A temporary building was built on the property and used by the Sisters of Loretto until 1915 when construction on Webster Hall began.

References

Founder of suburb dies. (1903, November 3). St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. 5.
New building will be erected immediately to replace Loretta (sic) Academy at Webster Groves, destroyed by flames. (1905, February 10). St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. 9.
Morris, Ann. (2006). The Vision of Tuxedo Park: Historic Walking Tour. Webster Groves Historical Society, 2006. Retrieved from http://webstergroves.org/DocumentCenter/View/3909.
Sr. Edwin Mary, S.L. (1948, February 28). The Loretto Sisters: 136 years of teaching. St. Louis Star-Times, p. 7.
Wade, Festus J. (1897, July 17). [Letter to Mother M. Praxedes]. Webster University Archives, St. Louis, MO. (read the entire letter)
Will be dedicated next Thursday. (1898, June 9). St. Louis Post-Dispatch, p. 12.

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