Robidoux Row

Robidoux Row Robidoux Row was constructed over a 10 year time frame - from the 1840's to the 1850's. It was the home of Joseph Robidoux, the founder of St. Joseph, MO.
The Saint Joseph Historical Society was formed in 1867 on the second floor of the State National Bank Building at the southeast corner of Fourth and Felix. The bank building is still standing and is known today as the Missouri Valley Trust Co. Although it no longer used for banking purposes, it is open as a museum. The first president was Colonel Albe M. Saxton. Ripley Calkins was elected secretary. At some time, and no one knows exactly when, the organization became inactive. It was revived in 1949 by Judge Zwick. The organization's main goal, at that time, was to save the Pony Express Stables from destruction. Bartlett Boder was elected president. He served in this office for 18 years. Glenn burgess was elected secretary and George U. Richmond was elected treasurer. The organization was incorporated on May 11, 1950. For many years the Historical Society held its meetings at the St. Joseph Museum at 11th and Charles. In the 1950's, the Historical Society placed painted wooden signs on some of the historic structures in our city. One of the many sites marked was that of Robidoux Row which many years later would become the permanent home of the Saint Joseph Historical Society. These signs are all gone now due to weathering, vandals, etc. The Historical Society also restored a small two story building in Market Square. It was the express office where the Pony Express riders picked up their sack of mail before crossing the river into Kansas and on to California. The Historical Society ran a little country store in the building. It was hoped that the entire Market Square area could be restored. In the late 1960's and early 70's, St. Joseph was caught up in the Urban Renewal craze. One of the goals of the renewal group was to tear down all the buildings on Market Square and build a hotel there. Of course they met with opposition from preservationist. Many people came up with plans on how the area could be revitalized. To make a long story short, the huge cranes came in at midnight and knocked down the fronts of all the buildings on Market Square including the historic express office where the Historical Society was located. The Historical Society was told they should go north of downtown and save Robidoux Row since it was out of the Urban Renewal district. That is how the Historical Society ended up at Robidoux Row. It is thought that the Row is the oldest building in St. Joseph. It was build by the founder of our town, Joseph Robidoux III, as a row of one room apartments where newcomers to the town in the 1840's and 50's could live rent free "if they were of the right quality" until their house was completed. This sounds very generous but remember our city founder had just sold them a lot for $100 or $150 if it was on the corner. Six of the original apartments on the west burned in 1932 and were razed. We still have 10 rooms left. The Historical Society rescued the building just in time, as it was condemned and the site was to become an off ramp for I-229, a new highway being built in the area. The off-ramp is now located just a few feet west of the building but the Row was saved. The Historical Society had the building put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, purchased the building in 1974, and restored the building as a Bicentennial Project. It was 1981 before it could open as a museum. Lack of money often meant very slow progress. In the 1970's, the Saint Joseph Historical Society began a festival called the Robidoux Festival with the proceeds going toward the restoration and maintenance of Robidoux Row. This was the first large festival in Northwest Missouri. It continued for 24 years. A large festival called Trails West! was formed to celebrate our city's sequicentennial in 1993. After a few years this new festival more or less put our festival out of business. The Historical Society owns and operates Robidoux Row Museum, which is a full time job as a 160 year old building has one problem after another. It seems everything new (like furnaces, air conditioners, and plumbing) that was installed in the 1970's is now breaking down so we constantly need to replace these including a wooden shingle roof on the building which is about ½ block long. We receive no money from local, state or federal governments. We have about 300 members, so their donations and memberships help us survive. We also have fund raisers such as President's Day party in February, Rummage, Plant, and Bake Sale in the spring, Joseph Robidoux's birthday celebration in August, and Candlelight Tours during the December holidays. We also have a walk-out basement with two rather long rooms and an attached patio with a garden, all of which we rent out for parties, weddings, receptions, church services, etc. The rent from these help us pay our bills also. The Historical Society has sponsored a Robidoux Reunion in 1998, 2000, and 2005. Robidoux's from all over the county and Canada are invited to come here and meet. They are all related to Andre Robidou (no x) who came to North America in 1666. At one time the Historical Society organized home tours in conjunction with our Robidoux Festival, but there are now several other groups in the city and they have taken over much of what the Historical Society once did. Our main goal now is to maintain and operate Robidoux Row.
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We are officially reopened!!!Come down the Robidouw Row and see all we have to offer.  We are open 10-4pm Wednesday-Satu...
06/03/2020

We are officially reopened!!!
Come down the Robidouw Row and see all we have to offer. We are open 10-4pm Wednesday-Saturday.
Along with our great exhibits we have partnered with CAT Designs for some great items for the gift shop. Come check out what we have on offer.
Hope to see you all soon!

Great article about the Westward Gateway that was Saint Joseph.  We thank our friends at Made with Uncommon Character fo...
05/20/2020

Great article about the Westward Gateway that was Saint Joseph. We thank our friends at Made with Uncommon Character for this great post.

The Western Gateway Park (dedicated June 18, 2004) is located at 3rd and Edmond. This peaceful downtown park commemorates all of the brave souls (over 100,000!) who started their journey in search of gold or the prospect of a new life out West right here in the heart of St. Joseph as part of the world’s largest known human migration.

New Puzzles!!!  Check out some of the Robidoux Row's new puzzles of our sign and the garden.  We have some beautiful flo...
05/15/2020
Robidoux Row Sign - jigsaw puzzle (48 pieces)

New Puzzles!!! Check out some of the Robidoux Row's new puzzles of our sign and the garden. We have some beautiful flowers blooming and would love for you to check out these great new puzzles.

Free online jigsaw puzzle game

03/19/2020

The Robidoux Row Museum will be closing our facility Thursday, March 19, 2020, until further notice. This is to follow City guidelines and allows for cleaning of the facility.

Staff will be available to answer the phones Monday-Friday from 10 AM- 4 PM. If, for some reason, we cannot answer the phones during that time, please leave a message and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank you for your understanding during this tough time. Please remember that these closings are for your health and well-being, as well as ours! Stay safe, everyone!

03/17/2020

Due to recent restrictions on group gatherings and with leadership from the Smithsonian Museum. It is with great sadness we must announce that Free Museum Day will not be taking place on April 4th at the Robidoux Row Museum. The reschedule date has yet to be determined. We hope everyone stays safe and we will share any new details that come as soon as we have them.

Amazing resource in Saint Joseph.  Check out the Downtown Library's Reference Department!
03/14/2020

Amazing resource in Saint Joseph. Check out the Downtown Library's Reference Department!

The Downtown Library's Reference Department maintains a digital archives of local history resources. Visit https://sjpl.lib.mo.us/st-joseph-public-library-digital-archives/ to view the archives. We hope you enjoy this bit of St. Joseph history.

Robidoux Row is hiring.  If you or someone you know would be interested please contact Daniel at director.robidouxrow@gm...
03/03/2020
Executive Assistant - St. Joseph, MO Economic Development Partnership

Robidoux Row is hiring. If you or someone you know would be interested please contact Daniel at [email protected].
https://choosesaintjoseph.com/job/executive-assistant/

Executive Assistant March 3, 2020 Company Name: Saint Joseph Historical Society Title of Position: Executive Assistant Description: The Robidoux Row Museum is searching for a qualified Executive Assistant. The successful candidate will provide professional museum coverage for a minimum 18-20 hours a...

Great article by our friends at the Historic St Joseph Emporium(https://www.facebook.com/Historic-St-Joseph-Emporium-114...
12/12/2019

Great article by our friends at the Historic St Joseph Emporium(https://www.facebook.com/Historic-St-Joseph-Emporium-114590266607151/). Check this article and many other amazing stories of the homes in Saint Joseph at their website https://historicsaintjosephemporium.com/.

The history of the preservation movement in St. Joseph is closely tied to the salvation of Robidoux Row. Two of the most iconic early preservationists here -- Mary Boder and Barbara Ide -- were deeply involved in the saving of this structure which is now a fascinating museum. Robidoux Row has just opened a new exhibit focusing on the issue of preservation in St. Joe. Find out more at https://historicsaintjosephemporium.com/places-to-stay-things-to-do

12/11/2019
Old Saint Jo

Great Livestream from our friends at Old Saint Jo (https://www.facebook.com/oldsaintjo). Looking forward to doing more Livestreams with them as well as preparing for part two of their series.

Enjoy the livestream of " Have a Cup of Joe with Old Saint Jo". Featuring Gracia Pinzino from the Visit St. Joseph, Missouri, Daniel Johnson from Robidoux Row, @Andy Montee owner of Mokaska Coffee, Ben Smith (Old Saint Jo Student Ambassador & President of APO), and the #mwsu APO Christmas Carolers. The livestream was produced by Cinema Students and Faculty as part of our ongoing episodic documentary/livestreaming series titled "Old Saint Jo". This livestream is also avaiable on our "Old Saint Jo" YouTube page: https://youtu.be/F5-6bygR_Ww

Images were taken from Robidoux Row Museum's new preservation in Saint Joseph exhibit.Funding provided by the David H. M...
11/23/2019

Images were taken from Robidoux Row Museum's new preservation in Saint Joseph exhibit.

Funding provided by the David H. Morton Memorial Fund.

Images were taken from Robidoux Row Museum's new preservation in Saint Joseph exhibit.

Funding provided by the David H. Morton Memorial Fund.

A special thanks to the students from Bishop Leblond High School (https://www.facebook.com/LeBlondEagles/) who came out ...
10/24/2019

A special thanks to the students from Bishop Leblond High School (https://www.facebook.com/LeBlondEagles/) who came out and helped with our garden. You guys did a great job and we loved having you here!!! 😁

New Discover St Joseph out in the KC Star!
09/28/2019

New Discover St Joseph out in the KC Star!

We're thrilled to announce that our latest insert, Discover St. Joseph, is now available to check out online. This fall/winter magazine has great information on downtown St. Joseph, foodie opportunities, our 13 amazing museums and a full calendar of events. Check it out at http://bit.ly/KCFallWinter2019!

#GoStJoMo

09/27/2019
Zac Summers

Great video by Zac Summers (https://www.facebook.com/ZacOnTV/) from Fox 4 Kansas City about the crew of the Muskrat and the final leg of their two-month journey from Wyoming to Saint Charles, MO.

A group of mountain men, recreating an expedition from the 1800s, spent Thursday evening docked along the Missouri River in Parkville, Mo.

Had a blast putting this story together with photographer, Jerry Paauwe!

Donut Dash is fast approaching.  This event is a benefit to local museums so if your a runner or just like good donuts s...
09/27/2019

Donut Dash is fast approaching. This event is a benefit to local museums so if your a runner or just like good donuts sign up and help us bring Saint Joseph History to life.

Have you registered for the Donut Dash yet? Gold N Glaze donuts, a run through historic St. Joseph, a Bloody Mary bar and brunch at the Hi-Ho Bar & Grill after, plus the medal is a cool coaster. What more could you want? Register at https://saintjoseph.com/ for the Oct. 19 race.

09/26/2019
Old Saint Jo - Episode 1 - The Fur Years - 1799 – 1843

Check out friends at Old Saint Jo and their new video about Saint Joseph History.

Welcome to episode one of our ongoing episodic history series about St. Joseph, Missouri. We will also be uploading bonus content like live stream episodes w...

A 1/2 scale of the original muskrat sailed originally sailed by William Ashley in 1825.  We wish our friends on the Keel...
09/25/2019

A 1/2 scale of the original muskrat sailed originally sailed by William Ashley in 1825. We wish our friends on the Keelboat Muskrat good luck and hope to hear from you again soon.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/256668361707273/?ref=nf_target&fref=nf

https://www.facebook.com/groups/254391438581520/permalink/391529841534345/

A 1/2 scale of the original muskrat sailed originally sailed by William Ashley in 1825. We wish our friends on the Keelboat Muskrat good luck and hope to hear from you again soon.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/256668361707273/?ref=nf_target&fref=nf

https://www.facebook.com/groups/254391438581520/permalink/391529841534345/

Don't forget to catch episode one of Old Saint Jo tonight at 6pm on Youtube!
09/25/2019

Don't forget to catch episode one of Old Saint Jo tonight at 6pm on Youtube!

Old Saint Jo - Episode #1 premieres tonight @ 6 pm on You Tube!
https://youtu.be/Aab8Z9cQ7jw

Amazing group that came through today here in Saint Joseph.  Retracing the steps of William Ashley, many of which Joseph...
09/24/2019

Amazing group that came through today here in Saint Joseph. Retracing the steps of William Ashley, many of which Joseph would have taken as well in his search for fur. Check them out down by The Remington Nature Center and we wish them good luck on their continued journey to Saint Charles, MO.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/254391438581520/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/256668361707273/

Looking to experience an important piece of St. Joseph history? The Keelboat Muskrat (which is reenacting the journey of William Ashley) has officially reached their stop in St. Joseph!

They are docked adjacent to Remington Nature Center this evening before continuing their journey to St. Charles tomorrow morning. So come say hello and learn all about this historic journey.

This group started their journey on July 6 with a horseback ride across Wyoming and Montana. They continued by boat (that they built) on the Big Horn River until eventually making their way to the Missouri River! We will include links to their groups in the comments below, so that you can follow along.

09/19/2019

Only two more days until Free Museum Day. Looking forward to see you all here!

Come check out this amazing event going on here are the Row.  Today, Tomorrow and Saturday the Piece Corp Quilters' Guil...
09/12/2019

Come check out this amazing event going on here are the Row. Today, Tomorrow and Saturday the Piece Corp Quilters' Guild will be selling amazing products in the downstairs of the Robidoux Row. Come by and see them and pick something up! 😁

Please share on your individual pages to spread the word!

Take a look at some items from Robidoux's Row newest temporary exhibit.  To see the full exhibit come by the Robidoux Ro...
08/22/2019

Take a look at some items from Robidoux's Row newest temporary exhibit. To see the full exhibit come by the Robidoux Row Museum!

Souvenir China currently on display at the Robidoux Row. Courtesy of Randy and Donna Klein.

Souvenir China currently on display at the Robidoux Row.  Courtesy of Randy and Donna Klein.
08/22/2019

Souvenir China currently on display at the Robidoux Row. Courtesy of Randy and Donna Klein.

Souvenir China currently on display at the Robidoux Row. Courtesy of Randy and Donna Klein.

08/17/2019

Unveiling robidoux row's new exhibit

Our friends over at Old Saint Jo are almost done with their first episode. We are super excited for them and can not wai...
08/10/2019

Our friends over at Old Saint Jo are almost done with their first episode. We are super excited for them and can not wait to see it!

#oldsaintjo episode #1 is almost finished! We will unveil it at the MWSU Portal Presentation this fall. After that it will live on the OSJ YouTube page for everyone to see. Thanks to everyone for your love and support! #gogriffs

Address

219 E Poulin Street
Saint Joseph, MO
64501

General information

It is believed that the structure referred to as Robidoux Row located on the northwest corner of Third and Poulin Streets was constructed during the 1840's and finally completed in the 1850's. The building was probably built in three sections over a period of about ten years. The building is constructed of bricks supported on a native limestone foundation. Many history books refer to Robidoux Row as the "oldest or first apartment house west of the Mississippi". We are not sure is this is correct or not, but it was an early adventure in apartment building. those books also make mention of seven apartments. If this is true, then each apartment would have consisted of two rooms, back to back, with one facing south and the other facing north. Architects during the restoration believe that originally the Row was a series of one-room apartments back to back. This is the theory that we now promote. Originally the apartments were built to house families who were of "the right quality" and who had purchased lots from Joseph Robidoux, the city founder. He would let the families stay at the Row rent free while their houses were being built near the downtown area. Later, persons who were traveling west often stayed here at Robidoux Row while waiting for their wagons to be ferried across the river or during the long hard winters. Robidoux Row could be thought of as "St. Joseph's first motel".

Telephone

(816) 232-5861

Website

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Robidoux Row

It is believed that the structure referred to as Robidoux Row located on the northwest corner of Third and Poulin Streets was constructed during the 1840's and finally completed in the 1850's.

The building was probably built in three sections over a period of about ten years. The building is constructed of bricks supported on a native limestone foundation.

Many history books refer to Robidoux Row as the "oldest or first apartment house west of the Mississippi". We are not sure is this is correct or not, but it was an early adventure in apartment building. those books also make mention of seven apartments. If this is true, then each apartment would have consisted of two rooms, back to back, with one facing south and the other facing north. Architects during the restoration believe that originally the Row was a series of one-room apartments back to back. This is the theory that we now promote.

Originally the apartments were built to house families who were of "the right quality" and who had purchased lots from Joseph Robidoux, the city founder. He would let the families stay at the Row rent free while their houses were being built near the downtown area. Later, persons who were traveling west often stayed here at Robidoux Row while waiting for their wagons to be ferried across the river or during the long hard winters. Robidoux Row could be thought of as "St. Joseph's first motel".

Covered wagons were backed up to the door and the family's possessions were carried into one room. This room would serve as kitchen, dining room, living rooms, and bedroom. Toilet facilities consisted of seven or eight outdoor privies or chamber pots under the beds. During the summer time, much of the cooking could have been done outside over campfires. The one room that does have a fireplace could possibly have been used as a communal kitchen during cold weather.

Heat in the rooms was furnished by iron stoves, which were becoming popular around that time. These stoves could have been used for heating and cooking. Every room has a chimney to which a stove could be connected. Light would have been furnished by candles or bowls of fat or lard with a wick. Kerosene lamps were not available until after the Civil War.

In 1857, Joseph Robidoux moved to the east apartment of Robidoux Row after his wife, Angelique died. He spent the last eleven years of his life here. His sister, Pelagie, helped to care for him. Robidoux died in this apartment on May 27, 1868 at the age of 85, blind and broke.

For many years, the building continued to be used as apartments. Over the years many of the rooms were joined together by doors cut into the walls making two, three and four room apartments. As the years took their toll and the city moved eastward, the building known to many as Robidoux Row became very dilapidated. The building was condemned and was about to be torn down for highway construction when the late Mary (Stauber) Boder and the Saint Joseph Historical Society undertook the project in 1974 to save the last remaining structure built by our city's founder, Joseph Robidoux.

The building was in such bad shape that the floor in only one room (present day southwest room) could be preserved. The entire interior had to be gutted and rebuilt. Even parts of the outside walls were so dangerous that they had to be torn down and rebuilt. The eastern section (probably the last part to be constructed) was restored as museum rooms showing how the rooms would have been furnished in the 1840-50 period. The middle section (which is the present-day western end) was restored as rooms to be used by the Saint Joseph Historical Society. These are used as regular museum rooms displaying history of fur trading, Robidoux history, and early history of Saint Joseph. The original western section was torn down in the 1932 after it was destroyed by fire.

Archaeological diggings in 1974-76 uncovered the original floor of the northern gallery (porch). These diggings also revealed the location of a well, seven to nine privies and a large barn across the back lot. A stone watering-trough was located near the present-day east entrance to the garden.

Restoration of the building started in earnest in 1975. The garden was laid out in 1980. The official opening of Robidoux Row took place on May 9-10, 1981, before the restoration was completed. During the opening ceremonies, a time capsule filled with many items and notes from school children was buried in the area of the present day well. By the fall of 1981, the reconstruction of Robidoux Row was completed as a new gallery was constructed on the north side of the building.

Nearby museums


Comments

Great update from our friends on the Muskrat. Can not wait till the final stories and their travels from Wyoming all the way to Saint Charles. It was an honor to speak with them and see many families bring come out to see history come alive! 😁
Please note that the Robidoux Row email account has been hacked. Please delete the email you might have received requesting help for Ivana as it has not been generated by the Row. Thank you!
I know this isn't your area, but why can't the city do something about the eyesore that is the old Green Hills store at Belt and Mitchell?? It could be made into a nice little strip mall or a nice family restaurant.