Hunter-Dawson Home State Historic Site

Interior of the Hunter-Dawson Home State Historic Site

Elegant Mansion

The white antebellum Hunter-Dawson Home State Historic Site reflects the splendor of the elegant mansions that once were a common site along the Great River Road, and represents yet another generation that carved a home out of the rich Bootheel wilderness.


Because of its location on a bend in the Mississippi River, New Madrid had become a busy trading center for traffic on the river. Just like the prehistoric Indian town of Towosahgy, New Madrid in the 19th century depended upon the river for its economic life.

Historical Background

William Washington Hunter, a Virginian who moved to the area in 1830, became a successful businessman and acquired a large section of land north of the town. Here he picked the setting for his new home among the giant oaks and gum trees, many of which remain today.

Old Eclectic Style

The Hunter-Dawson house is a two-story, 15-room frame structure of an eclectic style with Georgian, Greek Revival and Italianate influences. The lumber used in the house is mostly yellow cypress, which local and family tradition states came from a nearby sawmill owned by Hunter. The labor during construction was furnished by Hunter's own slaves and by area craftsmen. One of the workers, Matt Imboden, was particularly skilled in brick masonry, as evidenced by the nine fireplaces within the house.

Furniture Collection

The majority of furnishings for the house were purchased from the Cincinnati firm of Mitchell and Rammelsberg, probably from its St. Louis outlet. The furniture, which remains in the house, was then shipped to New Madrid by steamer. It is believed that the furniture is the largest collection of an original Mitchell and Rammelsberg setting.

For admission costs and hours of operation please call 573-748-5340