This scenic street was a branch of the Santa Fe Trail, leading west and runs along the bluff above the Missouri River. It intersects with the road that led to the ferry and Upper Landing in the steamboat era. Highland also led to the Lower Landing’s warehouses, hotels & ropewalks, where hemp was twisted into rope. According to a newspaper of the period, the Lexington Intelligencer, “It was no unusual thing to see six or eight steamboats at our landing . . . a line of wagons a half mile long waited for their time to move forward down Broadway to the warehouses.” Prominent merchants built homes along Highland in the 1840s and ’50s. Later, coal miners lived on “Irish Town Hill.” The Aull family built or owned many of the homes, including the Elizabeth Aull Seminary.
Don’t miss the Missouri River Scenic overlook provided by the Lafayette County War Memorial. The story and a half home on the corner was built around 1840. Owner James Lightner was wounded in 1861 when trying to free Southern sympathizers from the steamboat White Cloud, then killed trying to escape. The right side of the duplex across the street was built around 1842, and later used as a bank. This is one of the earliest duplexes built west of the Mississippi. There are several Greek Revival homes along Highland that were built around 1840. Quarters for household slaves remain in the rear of a few. The clapboard Greek Revival was owned by Pony Express founder William B. Waddell before he moved to a grander house on South St.
The house with the outstanding columns, added in the late part of the 20th Century, was originally home to merchant Robert Aull. From 1860 to 1903, it housed the Elizabeth Aull Seminary, an innovative Presbyterian female finishing school that gave no public performances or tests, to avoid embarrassing the girls. The brick home facing Franklin was also part of the campus. When restored, blackboards were found in many rooms. Down the street is the largest Greek Revival house in Lexington. It was owned by merchant - banker Robert Aull and, much later, by former U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton. It was constructed around 1855 and shows the transition from the Greek Revival to the Italianate style.
Across the street on the corner is 1840's built Greek Revival brick home, now called Morgen Manor, that was constructed on part of a stone foundation of a much earlier log cabin. Several of the hand-hewn beams and hand forged nails were used in the construction of the existing house. This house’s abstract had five slaves listed as residing there during the mid-1800.
Down the street is a brick home built in 1843 was the center of a hemp plantation. Owner Dr. William Boulware treated survivors of the Saluda steamboat explosion and soldiers wounded during the Battle of Lexington. Dr. Bennett Clark Hyde, who was tried three times for poisoning members of the prominent Swope family but never convicted, later lived there. Down Wall St. to the right is a river overlook and stairs leading to Hwy 224. A marker explains the World War I Memorial below.
The original brick paving, never covered with asphalt, leads you down “Irish Town Hill,” named after coal miners who lived here in the late 1800s. At the bottom of the hill, a DAR marker commemorates the river route of the Santa Fe Trail, now Hwy 224, is an officially designated Missouri Byway known as “The Old Trails Road”.
The 1848 Greek Revival Arnold house at Highland and Broadway is one Lexington’s most historic. In 1852, the steamboat Saluda exploded as it left the landing. Dr. Arnold treated many of the victims in his yard. In June of 1861, Federal troops marched up the hill to occupy the town. The commander saw a Southern flag flying from the house and ordered it removed. The doctor’s daughter refused, saying, “It is my flag and you cannot have it.” Her husband grabbed a gun to protect her, but was arrested. Susan Arnold McCausland got her revenge as she watched the Missouri State Guard defeat Federal forces that September.
Down Highland is an unusually large one-story Greek Revival built by William H. Russell around 1842. In 1854, Russell, William Waddell and Alexander Majors formed a firm to supply all Army forts in the West. When the firm went bankrupt, Russell went to New York City, where he made and lost another fortune on the stock market. Down farther is another Greek Revival built around 1840, later owned by the founder of Wentworth Military Academy. Toward the end of Highland is a home with a double porch that was originally a boarding house, the only commercial building remaining at this end of Highland.
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