As you know from these articles, I enjoy history. And while I appreciate what all our parks have to offer, I have a special affinity for the St. Charles County Heritage Museum. That’s not just because a distant cousin of mine once owned and lived on the property, but also because it is rich in history.
Located where the Page Avenue extension and Highway 94 meet, the land had many owners before part of it became County property. Records date back to 1796 and show that it passed hands five times before it became the property of Frederick “Fritz” and Anna Kuhlmann in 1897. The Kuhlmanns purchased approximately 113 acres for $10,500, and fell in love with it. In fact, they liked it so much that they wanted everyone else to enjoy it, and opened the land to the public for picnics and baseball games. It became known as Kuhlmann’s Grove. The 1912 photograph below shows how little things have changed: Baseball, music and beer served as the staples of entertainment even then.
After Fritz and Anna Kuhlmann both died in 1928, their will stipulated that their daughter, Caroline Iborg, receive 245 acres, and their grandson, Erwin Ehlmann (my distant cousin), receive 104 acres. Iborg and her husband, and Ehlmann and his wife, all lived in the house at Kuhlmann’s Grove. The family lived on the land until the 1970s, when part of it was sold to housing developers for Heritage Landing.
St. Charles County Government purchased two acres and the original brick home in 2006, made additions, and opened the Heritage Museum in October 2010. The museum houses large exhibits of historical importance to our county that are especially interesting to those of us who were born and raised here. I enjoy sports as much as history, so I encourage you to visit these four sporting-related exhibits at the museum:
- “Our Sporting Heritage” celebrates recreation by showcasing the history of hunting and fishing in St. Charles County and Missouri from prehistoric times to the modern era. The exhibit features a Marksman Training Simulator donated by hunting enthusiast August A. Busch III. This interactive digital hunting simulator has the largest video shooting surface in the world and is one of only three of its kind in the U.S.
- The St. Charles County Amateur Sports Hall of Fame provides a look at the history of popular area sports: dartball, horseshoes, bowling (including cocked hat bowling at the Corner Bar in St. Charles), baseball and more. Leather bowling shoes from the 1930s, wooden duck pins from 1917, vintage dartboards and darts, and old baseball uniforms and jackets are just some of the items on display.
- A tribute to local high school teams from years past is the focus of “Root for the Home Team! The History of High School Athletics in St. Charles County.” Photos, sports equipment, trophies and other mementos from area teams and players make up this exhibit.
- “Locally Grown: The Major League Baseball Players of St. Charles County” is the museum’s newest exhibit, featuring photos and memorabilia from 21 local players, including Hall of Fame pitcher and Francis Howell North alum Mark Buehrle.
We are fortunate to have such a rich past in St. Charles County and a place to share it with others. I encourage you to take advantage of what the Heritage Museum has to offer you and your family. You can learn more on the Parks' website.
Past Photos of the Heritage Museum
The land surrounding the Heritage Museum was formerly known as “Kuhlmann’s Grove,” a social hub for picnics and baseball games. In the image above, some St. Charles County men spend time at the popular spot enjoying some of the same activities things they enjoy today: baseball, music and beer. Photo courtesy of the St. Charles County Collection, 1912.
Drawing of the Heritage Museum when it was known as "Cedar Grove," a stock and grain farm owned by Lawrence Cribbin. Drawing courtesy of the Illustrated Atlas Map of St. Charles County, W.R. Brink & Co., of Illinois, 1875.