Big thanks to Jim Hackman and Mitch Hackman for letting me trample around the Rector House property and ask them questions. And thanks to Caleb James for the story idea!
One of the oldest homes in Boonville is getting an extreme makeover.
The Nimrod Rector house, named by owner Jim Hackman, has withstood floods, a civil war – and is now getting updated for the 21st century. Located on High Street and close to the river, it was built in 1829 and has received numerous renovations throughout its almost 200-year-old life. Hackman has now taken on the task of restoring the property and preserving the past.
‘It’s seen its fair share of Boonville history,” says Hackman.
The house has close ties to the origins of Boonville: Charles Lucas and Asa Morgan were the first owners of the land where the Rector House now stands. Both are considered some of the “Founding Fathers” of Cooper County – in fact, they filed the paperwork to create the town of Boonville on August 1, 1817. They also offered to donate 50 acres of land to the state if Boonville was named the county seat. The state later accepted. (History of Cooper County by E.J. Melton, pg 37)
Although Asa Morgan would go on to influence the town of Boonville in later years (ever heard of Morgan Street?), Lucas was not so lucky. Three days after filing the legal documents to create Boonville, Lucas challenged famed politician Thomas Hart Benton’s right to vote. Benton brushed off the attack, replying, “I do not propose to answer charges made by any puppy who may happen to run across my path.”
Hot-headed Lucas challenged Benton to a duel on August 12, 1817. They met on a Mississippi sandbar known as “Bloody Island,” and shot at each other with pistols. Both injured, they agreed to a rematch on September 27, where Benton would strike Lucas in the arm and chest.
“Colonel, you have murdered me, and I never can forgive you,” said Lucas, 24. He later died of his wounds.
Asa Morgan was now the sole owner of the property. The land was then passed to Nimrod Rector, who built a log cabin in 1829. Later, renovations would be done around 1848, where a larger house would be built around the original wood, raising the structure to accommodate a large stone basement. The house would be occupied by residents up until the mid-1900s.
Jim Hackman bought the property in 2009, which included the now-named Rector House and a small area where another house once stood. He knew immediately that the house was something special – and when he bought the land, he was able to receive the original abstract, which contains legal documentation of owners, property (including slaves) and recordings of the renovations during the 1800s.
Much of the original “bones” of the Rector house are still intact, with old wood beams and handcrafted stones visible all over the property. One brick found outside reads “St Louis,” so some materials were probably shipped west via Missouri river. In addition, the house was almost certainly built by slaves.
Hackman has enjoyed uncovering the past through his work on the Rector House. At one time or another, the house included a kitchen, bathroom, basement, closets and living room, complete with a fireplace. In addition, former residents of the building have left behind interesting artifacts, including vintage artwork, old glass bottles and a wash tub.
Hackman plans to renovate the old house into a modern bed and breakfast. He envisions a multi-bedroom house – perfect for groups of bikers riding the Katy Trail, or even performers from the Isle of Capri Casino, which is located right across the street. He has also planted trees from his tree farm across the property, and hopes to use the small clearing next to the house as an event space. However, Hackman intends to keep as much of the original structure and build as he can.
“I think tourists will really be interested in this property,” says Hackman. “It’s definitely unique.”
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