01 Jul 2020

Those McCloskeys Have One Helluva House

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When you learn more about it, and how much work they did restoring it, you wonder why Mark had not gotten himself an M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun, just in case…

St. Louis Magazine, 2018 feature:

When attorneys Mark and Patty McCloskey bought their home in February of 1988, it was the color of cigarette ashes. Still dirty from the days when St. Louis lay under a blanket of coal smoke, the home’s Carthage marble facing “had quarter-inch-thick carbon on it in some places,” Mark says. The two Carrara marble urns out front, copies of a pair at the Vatican, had turned black, obscuring Neptune and his attending dolphins. The imported Caen limestone in the entry hall had been painted battleship gray, and the intricate wood carvings in the dining room (which, as Mark points out, are so detailed, you can see the birds’ individual claws), were smothered in layers of white and robin’s-egg blue. What had once been St. Louis’ most dazzling mansion now felt more like a haunted house. It didn’t help that the first time Mark and Patty turned the key in the door, the temperature had fallen to 4 below zero and the house didn’t have a functioning furnace. The prior owner had heated the house with 48 kerosene space heaters that had since been removed.

The McCloskeys joke that they were too young and naïve to know what they’d signed up for. But 30 years later, the house is as magnificent as it was when Edward and Anna Busch Faust held court here, meeting guests at the top of the grand staircase for afternoon tea or smoking cigars around the billiard table in the sub-basement.

Adolphus and Lilly Busch, the story goes, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by giving their children money to build houses. “August Sr. built Grant’s Farm,” Patty says. “Hugo Reisinger, who was married to one of the sisters [Edmee Busch Reisinger], built a big house on Fifth Avenue. Wilhelmina built a castle in Bavaria…”

And Anna and Edward—son of Tony Faust, Adolphus’ best friend—set out to build a Renaissance palazzo. “The goal was to build one of the most lavish and grand houses in the Midwest,” says Patty. …

The dining room is a re-creation of a residence chamber in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, constructed in 1458 by Luca Pitti, though its more famous residents included the Medicis and Napoleon Bonaparte. It took six people an entire year to carefully remove multiple layers of paint glommed over the intricate woodwork. The ceiling murals, however, were in great shape: “The guy who owns St. Louis Architectural Bronze said that when he was an art student at Wash. U., he lived here for two years, restoring the ceiling,” Mark says. “This is all on canvas, and it had all fallen in. He put it back up and repainted the parts that needed to be repainted, and you can’t tell.” Across the way in the solarium are gorgeous reproductions of 16th-century stained-glass windows decorated with cartouches, putti, and stylized vegetation, copies of the famous ones in Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library in Florence. And beyond those glowing panes is one of the most remarkable parts of the house: the ballroom.

It’s 70 feet long and 45 feet wide, a reproduction of the second-floor reception hall at the 14th-century Palazzo Davanzati in Florence. “The glass in the windows is actually from there,” Patty says, “and the shutters, at least the ironwork, are probably original.” That’s because in 1916, the year the ballroom was built, most of the palace’s contents were sold off; the McCloskeys found two of the original chairs at auction, and they now sit in the entryway. (The matching table is on view at the Frick Collection in New York.)

One significant divergence from the original, Patty says, is the floor, which was Portuguese tile. This one was once described as “the most beautiful dance floor in America,” a flawless plain of glossy teak joined by small, carved pieces of ebony, made without a single nail. It also boasts a hidden trapdoor (“For theatrical entrances!” quips Mark). The other whimsical detail: The ceiling beams are equipped with confetti boxes. “You pull the rope, and they dump confetti,” Mark says. “Mrs. Faust said that at Christmas parties, they’d put fans on the top of the mantelpiece and dump confetti so you’d have snowstorms.”

RTWT

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9 Feedbacks on "Those McCloskeys Have One Helluva House"

M Murcek

It’s a celebration of wealth, culture and style. Anyone who thinks it’s obscene clearly isn’t spending enough time on creating wealth themselves. I salute the McCloskeys. And, year, a couple M2, at least. They are also historical artifacts worthy of restoration.



Bram

Good for them – and good that they were brave enough to defend it.



Schill McGuffin

I find the exterior kind of bland, but my God the interiors! It’s like Kane’s Xanadu, but better lit. ;)

Honestly, I don’t think an M2 would be of much help. You’d need a sizeable staff to really fortify the place. For a couple defending their homestead, mobility is key. Definitely get her her own M4 carbine though.



OneGuy

They won’t once the Soros DA gets through with them, they will be bankrupt.



Joe

They are lawyers. They will manage just fine.



Mike-SMO

“Pink PoloShirt” and a lawyer no less; I am impressed and heartened. The professional thugs knew they had a problem and backed off. The private enclaves of Saint Louis (City) have always been an oddity for me but looks like the “Red” isn’t only “out there” at crunch time. Fortunately, the Lawyerly Duo have the resources to duel with the Corruptocrats who have stripped the Gateway City beyond the bare bones, and now have sights on the County of Saint Louis. Curiously, the McCloskey’s personal stand protected the home of the Mayor who was leading the final desolation of the old city.

Neither my street nor my neighborhood are “private” although my yard and porch are. The weapons and tactics of the McCloskeys have been criticized, but I hope that I can do as well when “They” appear in my neighborhood. [Mine are 7.62 NATO or 12 ga./3-1/2″. I can’t afford to feed an M-2.]



bob sykes

Be careful what you do. Brandishing, which is what they did, is a crime in some states. And in most states, using deadly force to protect property is illegal. Some states require you to run away from deadly danger, if possible.

Also, you cannot use deadly force to protect posted, no trespass, properties. A visitor always has the right to go to the front door and ask to speak with the property owner, even on posted property. If the owner refuses, the visitor is required to leave. If he doesn’t, the local police or sheriff will enforce the order to leave. You cannot shoot the visitor regardless of the posting, nor sic you dog on him, nor attack him in any way.

Finally, the mob could easily have overrun the McCloskeys. They were needlessly and pointlessly exposed. Stay inside and shoot when they break down the door.



Lin Anderson

From what I saw in the video, Mr. McCloskey never aimed the gun at the intruders, and there was never a violent assault by the McCloskeys as that prosecutor has claimed. I don’t think this is the last time something like this will happen, but if people are afraid and think their home is going to be invaded, they have every right to defend themselves. This couple should not be harrassed and charged with anything.



Bchgfy

As for the house-classic robber baron wanna be a king, mausoleum style architecture, tacky low-brow owners and bad interior decorating. This is a Trump follower’s idea of an elegant house. As for protests-“The Crisis Monitor ― a joint effort of the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a nongovernmental organization, and the Bridging Divides Initiative at Princeton University ― identified over 100 instances of non-state actors, including at least 20 distinct far-right militia groups, intervening in Black Lives Matter demonstrations, sometimes violently, since May 24.

There were also dozens of cases of individual perpetrators, some linked to white supremacist groups like the KKK, driving vehicles into Black Lives Matter.”



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