Named a Preserve America Community by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Carthage is home to the most photographed courthouse in Missouri and three historic districts and over 640 individual landmarks listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Settlers founded Carthage in the 1840s, and conflict burned it to the ground during the Civil War Battle of Carthage. Wealthy landowners rebuilt the town during the lead and zinc mining boom of the 1880s and 1890s. This history has contributed to the rich architectural heritage found in its residential and business structures.
Carthage Historic Preservation, Inc., was formed in 1978 by a group of concerned citizens who recognized that disinterest and neglect threatened the wonderful Victorian treasures remaining in Carthage. With the help of state grants and the support of the Carthage City Council, the board completed a survey of homes and buildings in Carthage, and three historic districts were nominated and accepted to the National Register of Historic Places. These districts are:
Cassill Place on Central Avenue
Carthage South -- a mostly residential district area bounded by the Carthage Square south to Centennial Avenue and by Garrison Avenue east to Clinton Street
Carthage Courthouse Square
The founders of CHP were preservation pioneers in Carthage. Their vision inspired a community to celebrate buildings and historic districts that have shaped Carthage's image for more than 150 years. CHP gratefully acknowledges and salutes these preservation pioneers.
In addition to establishing three historic districts, CHP has rehabilitated two Victorian properties off the Carthage Square, one of which is now the home of the Carthage Civil War Museum. In 1988, through grants from the Helen S. Boylan Foundation and R. Crosby Kemper Foundation, CHP purchased the historic 1895 Phelps House built by Colonel William Phelps. This magnificent 14-room mansion was restored and is now rented out for weddings, parties, meetings, and other celebrations, and is available for tours.
CHP's latest restoration project was completed in the Spring of 2021. The Sweet House, believed to be the oldest house in Carthage circa 1868, was saved from potential demolition and completely rehabilitated. This project received a McReynolds Award from the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation. What makes this property especially meaningful is the connection between Colonel Phelps and Benjamin G. Sweet. It is Colonel Phelps who sold Sweet the land upon which the Sweet House was built.
Today, CHP remains committed to educating citizens about the economic, environmental, and cultural benefits of historic preservation in our city. As a non-profit organization, CHP finances its preservation efforts through fundraising including a membership drive, donations, community grants, rental of Phelps House, and two significant events: the annual Lobster Boil and the Christmas Homes Tour and Tea held every other year.
We need your support! Please join us in our quest to preserve what makes Carthage so special.