The Old Rectory stands as a memorial to the religious and early members of the St. Joseph Parish.
The Old Rectory was built around 1880 as a home for St. Joseph parish priests. Money was not plentiful during those times, but with their nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars, pioneer parishioners accomplished the tasks of establishing a church, school, residence for nuns, and a rectory. The Rectory served as the priests’ residence until 1980 when, desperately in need of repair, it was closed and a new residence was built. The old Rectory was then used by the church only for storage.
To Honor their past and their rich heritage, a group of parishioners entered into negotiations with the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which owned the building and purchased it for $1. Renovations began in 1996 and they were completed in 1999.
The Old Rectory is believed to be the first brick structure in Bonne Terre. Those bricks were made on the property and then dried in the sun. All exterior walls are solid brick and 15 inches thick. (This can be observed by looking at the inset of the windows.)
There are 33 windows in the building with all facings and baseboard moldings nailed with square nails. All are made of Georgia pine. Interior walls are of solid brick and approximately 12 inches thick. Flooring is ¾-inch tongue and grove made of Georgia pine. In between the floor and ceilings, the space was filled with coke, possibly for insulation and sound deadening. The roof sheathing is of ¾-inch tongue and grove pine. Original heat came from the five fireplaces in the building. Kerosene lamps furnished the original lighting. There were no closets in the original building.
At the exterior, there are metal stars about halfway up the walls between the first and second floor. They are attached to a steel rod that runs to the opposite wall and is attached to another star. A three foot square by 14-feet high extension is located on the east wall just outside the rear door. It is believed this was an above ground cistern that furnished water by gravity feed to the building.
There is no other structure like the Old Rectory in St. Francois County.
While the second floor is a luxury apartment rented to support the upkeep of the Old Rectory, the first floor houses a museum with mementos of the church history.
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