Downing House Museum Complex
Built in 1858 - National Register of Historic Places 1979
South Main Street Memphis, Missouri - Phone: 660-465-2275 Complex: Downing House Museum, Boyer House, Memphis Train Depot & Pheasant Aircraft Co.
Downing House Museum
This stately 14 room brick museum, designed by Thomas Broadwater of
Virginia, denotes a Greek Revival Style, with its three story tower it
conveys a strong Italianate character.
The Downing Family was from Virginia and were wealthy. William G.
Downing married Mary Jones, daughter of the first sheriff of Scotland
County. After the marriage William G. went back to Virginia and
returned with 12 slaves, 10 men and 2 women and prepared to build the
There were 14 original rooms in the house with 8 fireplaces, 6 porches,
and 15 doors to the outside. The slaves built a kiln and burnt brick
for the house which took 2 years to complete.
William and Mary Downing were the parents of 10 children and also
raised 2 orphaned nieces in their home. During the Civil War Union
Soldiers used the Downing House as Headquarters, and rode their horses
in through the 10 foot doors. Prisoners were also kept in the house.
On September 1, 1978, the Scotland County Historical Society purchased
the property and have been restoring and renovating the house to its
original condition. Period furnishings have been donated to outfit many
of the rooms. One of the most interesting exhibits at the Downing
House is the life size model of Ella Ewing, the Missouri Giantess.
Ella, born in 1872 in Scotland County, died at age 40 in 1913. She was
8 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 277 pounds and in her youth was an
attraction in the P.T. Barnum Circus.
Several other memorial rooms are devoted to Scotland Countys history,
including a vintage barber shop, Civil War relics, early aviation
history, and other interesting glimpses into the past.