In addition to working with other organizations, HFI has undertaken the restoration of a number of sites which include:
Archambault House (circa 1850) – 603 rue St. Denis. Now privately owned.
Narrow Gauge Railroad Station (1878) – relocated to Tower Court Park.
Myers House & Barn (1867) – 180 Dunn Rd., Occupied by private owner and a wool shop.
Peters House (1912) – 990 rue St. Francois, Restored and sold to private owners.
DeLisle Building (1878) – 298 rue St. Francois, Restored and sold for commercial use.
Cougot Log Cabin in Tower Court Park – owned by the City of Florissant.
Gittemeier House (1860) – 1067 Dunn Road, office of Historic Florissant, Inc., resource center and archive.
All of these buildings were endangered but have been preserved through the efforts of Historic Florissant, Inc. Each is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places or on the Florissant Landmark Register. Historic Florissant Inc. is proud of its accomplishments which were made possible by the support of the community and countless dedicated volunteers. Their hours of service and financial assistance represent a debt that can never be paid. Thier only reward comes from knowing that they have made an important contribution to their community.
The Gittemeier House and Family
Franz Gittemeier was born in Rebbeke, Westphalia, Germany in 1826. He immigrated to the United States in 1850. Gertrude Gerling was born in Prussia in April of 1833. She came to the United States in 1857 and Franz and Gertrude were married in Holy Trinity Church in St. Louis on September 25, 1858.
Franz hired out as a farm hand near Bridgeton, Missouri but soon decided to go to the California gold fields. He worked in the mines for seven years and returned to Florissant with enough gold dust to buy fifty acres of farmland and build the two story brick house where he and Gertrude raised ten children.
A hard worker, Franz prospered and eventually owned 500 acres of land. According to family legend, each of his ten children received a farm and $10,000 on his death on September 7, 1891. Gertrude died on March 15, 1908.
The descendants of Franz and Gertrude Gittemeier are many; they have been leaders in the fields of business, religion and politics–men and women who added strength and character to the Florissant community.
In 1938, Mrs. Mae Pondrom, another prominent name in Florissant history, purchased the property. Her descendents occupied it until Shell Oil Company acquired it for commercial development in 1990. The farmhouse was slated for destruction and the bulldozer was at the front door. Because the community expressed its desire to preserve the house, Shell asked Historic Florissant, Inc. to assume the responsibility of restoring and maintaining the house. The house and sufficient land to meet city requirements were given to Historic Florissant with the provision that the exterior restoration be completed within one year.
Architect Philip Cotton, Jr. was selected to direct the restoration. Albert Gettemeier, a great-grandson of Franz was the restoration contractor (some of Franz’s descendants changed the spelling). Borrowing the money, Historic Florissant Inc. met their deadline. The office, bookstore and Resource Center of Historic Florissant Inc. are now located in the Gittemeier House and the remaining space is used as a house museum.
The Gittemeier House Restoration
The Gittemeier House was scheduled for demolition when Shell Oil purchased the property to build a convenience store, gas pumps and a car wash. Historic Florissant, Inc. and other preservationists reasoned that the home was a vestige to Florissant’s past and should be saved. Shell agreed to delay demotion plans and worked with Historic Florissant, Inc. and the City of Florissant for over a year until a harmonious agreement was reached. Meanwhile, construction of the Shell gas station was completed. In 1990, keys to the house were presented to Rosemary Davison by Larry Burch, district manager of Shell Oil. Historic Florissant was responsible for over $100,000 of exterior restorations which were completed by a team of professionals and volunteers. Architect Phil Cotton Jr. oversaw the restorations which included a new roof, tuck pointing, repairs of windows, shutters and cornice repairs. Albert Gettemeier of Gettemeier Brothers’ Construction Company, did much of the roof and exterior repairs. Today, the Gittemeier House proudly stands as a representation of Florissant’s rich history.