This 1800’s-era cottage renovation in the Carondelet neighborhood, has the power to preserve history. For Marcia Dorsey, this history is personal, and for the surrounding area, it’s monumental.
The neighborhood was founded in 1767 by Clement DeLoure de Treget. The stone homes from the early to mid-18th century in the Carondelet and Patch neighborhoods provide a unique look at one of the earliest forms of architecture in the St. Louis region.
The small stone cottage at the corner of East Steins and Water Street used to be surrounded by brick and stone row houses built in the 1850’s, but these were demolished in the 1980s.
For decades, the remaining house at 124 E Steins sat empty and deteriorating, but it hadn’t always been that way. Marcia Dorsey remembers a time when the home was full of life.
She is the granddaughter of Italian immigrants, Romano & Nazarena Derussy Cogo, who once owned the property they now call, “Mio Nonni’s Casa”. The Cogos, along with their six children, lived in the larger home at the front of the lot, which they purchased in 1943. The stone cottage behind the main house was occupied intermittently by the family members, as the grown children began to marry and start families of their own.
Marcia, herself, lived with her parents and grandmother on the property until the age of seven.
When Marcia and her husband Tim purchased the 22ft wide-18ft deep cottage in, it was in need of a little TLC… and a roof. After re-constructing the walls and ceiling, the couple added electricity and plumbing. A previous basement was re-dug and a toilet and sink were installed. They added a porch, lighting and a security system.
Killeen Studio was contracted for permitting and coordination with State Historic Preservation Office. Every aspect of craftsmanship had to be carefully planned and approved. The addition of a porch was allowed, so long as the angle of the roof, the type or railing and the number of posts were reminiscent of the original time period.
To complete the truest rehabilitation, most of the stone used for the rehab was original, salvaged from the rubble. The additional stone needed was locally sourced. The 18-inch-thick walls were restored with the help of stonemason Lee Lindsey of Stone Works. Woodworker David Moore reconstructed the floor out of red oak lumber from an old barn and repurposed Civil war era windows.
Lightning designer Randy Burkette created a candlelit effect in the gallery, and Michael Kenyuck of Distinctive Design & Construction used wood timbers from an 1800s factory for the floor joists and beams.
The restoration of Mia Nonnis Casa was all about quality. Each element was hand selected to recreate the beauty of the original structure. The Dorsey’s are planning to open an art gallery and event space to share this beloved home.
“Historic Resources of Carondelet, East of Broadway, St. Louis,” National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, 5/19/60
“Eleven Most Endangered Places, 2009: Stone House, 124 East Steins Street,” Landmarks Association of St. Louis.