A Touch of History
Walnut Street Inn, previously known as the McCann-Jewell House, is a lovely example of the warmth and charm of a Queen Anne Victorian home. Steeping in history, this home has a succession of historically significant owners.
Charles & Katherine McCann
In 1879, Springfield was 50 years old and ready for real growth. Young men were still going west to seek their fortunes, and Charles McCann was one of them. From Indiana, with his wife and two children he came to Springfield. Immediately he became involved in business and civil affairs, and throughout his life had a hand in the development of the city.Wholesale trade was one of the most important features of Springfield in 1879. McCann decided to form a wholesale grocery firm, the Springfield Grocery Company. In 1886 he helped organize and served as a director and president of the Springfield Club, later to become the Chamber of Commerce. He then bought shares in the Springfield Wagon Company. It became one of the four largest wagon manufacturers in the nation. Mr. McCann was instrumental in the securing of the Frisco railroad shop’s location in Springfield. He was the major force in raising funds to build Springfield’s first public library in 1905. The Main Library still stands at 397 E. Central Street. The Springfield Grocery Company today serves the restaurant trade of a 180-mile radius into Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri, and is a large employer of the Springfield area. The Chamber of Commerce has over two thousand member businesses.
Mr. McCann’s first wife died not long after he came to Springfield, and in 1891 he married Miss Katherine Ashworth. Charles wrote in his journal, “While I had not made any resolution, it had always appeared to me as a matter of course that I would not marry again… but I became acquainted with Miss Ashworth, and as I grew to know her better, my interest and affection were aroused to an extent that I was impelled to ask her to make a home for me, and when she had consented to marry me, I had the sensation of beginning life anew.”
Charles built this house during the panic times of the mid-1890s. Jobs were hard to find, and skilled craftsmen were eager for work. Wrote Charles, “Good carpenters were paid only two dollars a day… I bought lumber, the best, in car loads for ten dollars per thousand feet delivered, and other items in the same proportion, yet this house cost me nearly $6000… I put in the latest improvements except electricity (and this exception was quite a mistake). I had Henry Hornsby cast for me 20 iron Corinthian columns, which gave the house a very handsome appearance, and when finished, it was one of the best looking homes in the street.”
Mr. & Mrs. W.A. Dennis
An owner between the McCanns and Jewells was recently unearthed while reading the autobiography of Charles McCann. According to Charles: “In February 1904, W.A. Dennis came to me one night at the Springfield Club and asked, ‘Charlie, do you want to sell your house at 704 East Walnut Street (now 900 E. Walnut Street)?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ ‘What will you take for it?’ he enquired. I replied, ‘$8500’, and he said ‘I’ll take it.’ We arranged the details; I, agreeing to give him possession on May 1st, as I had planned to move to the farm near Mountain Grove that date, he to pay cash. It was the quickest sale I ever made, and I regret to say that Dennis never took possession, as he died about one month after we made the deal and the property went to his wife who improved it and lived in it for some time.”
Mr. & Mrs. Harry S. Jewell
Mr. and Mrs. Jewell, owners of the Springfield News-Leader Newspaper, purchased the home in 1917. Aside from his newspaper business, he was president of the Springfield Paper and Supply Company. Jewell also built and owned the Jefferson Theatre in Springfield, a popular vaudeville house and the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. On Mrs. Jewell’s death in 1940, the house was divided into an upper apartment for Mr. Jewell, with the addition of a kitchen and stairway, which was his private entrance (now the Overnight Guest Entrance). The downstairs became an apartment for Mr. Jewell’s granddaughter, her husband, and two sons. An east/west wall was put in, dividing the large reception room (our parlor), and the openings into the study were sealed (now the inn office). The third floor continued the servant’s bedroom (now the Wilder Room) and the attic (now the Benton Room). Mr. Jewell continued to live in the house until he died in 1945. His grandson in law, Arch A. Watson, was later president and publisher of the Springfield News Leader and Press.
Dr. Max & Barbara Rosen
The next owners, Dr. Max and Barbara Rosen, bought the house in 1953 and raised their five children here. That first year of their ownership, the original three-story balconies on the south were removed and a deck was added. Dr. Rosen was a practicing medical professional. However, the Rosen family still had time to travel extensively. Their interests of children, reading, and travel were richly reflected in the house.
Gary, Nancy, & Karol Brown
In 1987, Gary, Nancy, and Karol Brown purchased the property to create the first bed and breakfast in Springfield. After a year of rehab and construction, the house was featured as the 1988 Springfield Symphony’s Designers’ Showcase Home. One of their biggest structural contributions to the house was the rebuild of the south balconies with the inclusion of the metal spiral staircase. Walnut Street Inn opened to guests in May 1988. Karol, only 19 when the inn opened, managed the inn for the nine years that the Browns owned it. Together, through hard work, creativity, and marketing savvy, the Browns created an inn that Country Inns Magazine chose as “One of the Top 12 Inns in the Country.”
Gary, Paula, & Catherine Blankenship
Gary, Paula, and Catherine Blankenship purchased Walnut Street Inn from the Browns in July 1996. Originally from the Springfield area, Gary and Paula left in 1981. After 15 years that included living in five major cities around the country, with Gary traveling over 100 nights a year on business, and the birth of their daughter Catherine, they decided to come back to the Ozarks. The Browns passed the torch of a family operated business to the Blankenships with esteem. As Nancy Brown put it, “We weren’t in the market to sell it, but it just seemed like a perfect match.”
The Blankenships managed the bed and breakfast with great respect for history and a love of hospitality. They even taught a workshop for aspiring innkeepers at the Missouri State University.
After Gary’s passing in 2019, Paula decided to pass the torch to the next owners. Paula now lives in L.A with daughter Catherine, son in law, and newborn grandson.
The Faucett Family
On April 15th, 2021, Mary Faucett and her two sons, Andy and Chuck Faucett, purchased the Walnut Street Inn. The Faucett family has operated the local favorite restaurant, Bambinos Cafe, for many years. When the Blankenships put Walnut Street Inn on the market, they thought this to be a great opportunity to try something new! Mary’s granddaughter, Madalyn, manages the inn and several other family members contribute to the legacy of this beautiful home.
The Faucett family and their attentive staff invite you to relax in this urban oasis. Welcome to Walnut Street Inn, a place to create your own happy memories that will become a part of its history.