The classic Italianate and Greek Revival style brick house at 627 St. Louis Street was built by Edward M. West in 1858. Modern-day residents of Edwardsville know this house as the former Pletcher or Schneider Funeral Home. But it is vitally important to the history and legacy of the house to know it as the historic “West Home”.
The West Home originally sat on a large lot surrounded by outbuildings and gardens. The style of the building incorporated both Greek Revival as well as Italianate architectural styles. The Greek Revival details are found in the symmetrically placed windows on the first and second floors, the use of cast iron in the porch railings and the lintels above the windows. The first floor porch has been altered, but originally had cast iron railings and rounded porch columns. The Italianate influence can be seen in the brackets located under the gables and eaves of the house. The brick walls of the house were originally exposed, but were painted white sometime in the late 1800s or early 1900s.
Even more noteworthy the architecture, but perhaps not as well known, is the prominence of the man who built and lived in the home for the last 30 years of his life. E. M. West, grandson of two men who served in the Revolutionary War under George Washington, came to Edwardsville in 1833 as a 19-year old clerk in the land office. West worked and prospered in several jobs, as well as political positions, and contributed his influence in retaining Edwardsville as the Madison County seat at a time when there was talk of moving it to Alton.
In 1868, West and his son-in-law, Major William R. Prickett, started a private banking house, as there had been no bank in Edwardsville since the old Bank of Edwardsville collapsed in 1824. This new bank eventually became the present-day Bank of Edwardsville.
Edward M. West owned much of the land along St. Louis Street. West Street (the section of Route 157 which borders Lincoln Middle School and the Hadley House, ending at St. Louis Street) was named for him.
The West home was the first house built in the legendary “Marriage Triangle”. In 1875, West’s daughter Mary married W. F. L. Hadley. As a wedding gift, the Wests presented the Hadleys with land across the street, on which the Hadleys built their home, now referred to as “Hadley House” and owned by the school district. In 1909-1910, the Hadleys built a home for their daughter Julie and her husband, Ralph Griffin, as a wedding gift. The home was designed by Walter Burly Griffin, brother of the groom, in the Prairie School Style on property next to the West home.
Around 1919 E. M. West’s widow sold her home to another prominent Edwardsville family, the Adolphus Wolf family. Adolphus Wolf was born in the Benjamin Stephenson House. As a young man in the Civil War, Adolphus, called Dolph by friends, successfully guarded the colors of Company F, 117th through many battles. In 1879, in partnership with his brothers, he started a coal mine that was sold to Madison Coal Company in 1891. Madison No. 3 on Troy Road where Market Basket is now located was Edwardsville’s largest mine. In later years, Adolphus made a career with the Bank of Edwardsville as assistant cashier and Vice-President.
The Wolf family lived in the St. Louis Street house for 30 years during which time they entertained their friends with parties and dances in their elegant home.
The historic West Home at 627 St. Louis Street stands as an elegant entrance to the National Register Historic District of St. Louis Street.