Preserving History

West County homeowners transform a historic cottage and barn on their property.

By Melissa Mauzy   

Photography by Anne Matheis


The Busch family has been an integral part of St. Louis history since the late 1800s when Adolphus Busch emigrated to our city from Germany and began brewing beer. In 1921, he purchased land and built a cottage for one of his descendants. Almost 100 years later, this small slice of history still exists, and several years ago a St. Louis couple was lucky enough to purchase the land on which the cottage sits. Not only did the couple think the property was a great investment, it also had a five-car garage originally built as a carriage house that would be a perfect home for their two miniature horses, Dandy and Titan. At the time the couple purchased the property no home existed, but they have since built a home and now reside there full time.

The cottage had fallen into disrepair over the years, and the wife began a full renovation to make the space more usable. “I wanted to preserve the cottage as much as I could while renovating it. It was my fun little project for a year,” she says. Given its age, the cottage needed a new roof and there was no insulation. The wife also says there were many more walls than there needed to be. “Originally it was five or six separate rooms, but we took down many walls and now it is just two or three,” she explains.

Working with contractor Brian LaBeau, the cottage was transformed into a one-bedroom, one-bathroom space with a kitchen and entertaining area, which the couple uses all the time. “In the summer we always host Huntleigh Happy Hour, and people will ride up on their horses or bring their dogs. It is just so fun,” she says.

Some original elements were retained including the light fixtures on the front of the home and the railing and raised patio on the back. The cottage also has one of the original stork statues the Busch family brought from Germany. Only a handful exist in St. Louis, and it was a special piece that can’t be touched. The hardwood floors needed only minor repairs.

With the structure intact and the cottage opened up, it was time for the wife to add her personal touch to the space. “It’s a cottage,” she says. “It wasn’t ever going to be anything terribly fancy, but we wanted a warm, cottage feel… think Ralph Lauren.” The furnishings are a mixture of family pieces and antiques, which the couple love to collect. Warm taupe walls make the space feel cozy and inviting. Rustic wood trusses stand out against the white beadboard ceiling treatment and add to the cottage feel.

A much bigger undertaking than the renovation of the cottage was the overhaul of the five-car garage and its transformation into a barn. The couple needed a place to house their two miniature horses, and the garage seemed like the perfect spot. “My husband was very hands-on in the design of the barn,” the wife says, “He drew up the design himself and worked with our contractor to bring the vision to life.” Working with Tom Roberts and his team at Artisan Constructors, they created a three-room barn that includes a stable, tack room and storage space.

The stable is every horse’s dream with two stalls for Dandy and Titan plus an additional third stall in case they decide to add another equine to the family. The homeowners saved all the old timber and wood in the attic to help make the barn more authentic. “The wood ceiling is original in areas over the tack room and the utility area and needed very little repair,” she explains. “We saved all the old scraps to make stairs and trim around windows and doors and baseboards using it wherever we could. The couple also added some windows near the ceiling to let natural light in. Black iron trims the stable stalls for a finished look. “I just love it for my little horses,” the wife says happily.

The adjoining tack room is adorned in equestrian-themed décor and houses saddles and supplies, and it also includes an interior window that opens into the stable. “The minis love to stick their head in to see what is going on when we have the window open,” the homeowner says.

Now just steps from their back door, the cottage and barn on their property are two places the homeowners love to spend time. Whether caring for Dandy and Titan in the barn or greeting guests arriving on horseback at the cottage for cocktails, the homeowners are proud to call a piece of St. Louis history their own.



Barn builder: Artisan Constructors

Cottage builder: Brian LaBeau 

Stall front: Classic Equine