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large old brick building - Missouri Vacations

History and Landmarks

Take a step back in time to a place that has remained virtually unchanged since the 1800s.

When Thomas Flanders traveled to Caledonia in preparation for its listing in the National Register of Historic Places, he wrote “The houses, streetscapes, and landscapes they constructed remain, in great measure unchanged, from the nineteenth century.”

The village of Caledonia (population in 2000 was 158) is located in the Bellevue Valley in nearby Washington County. The village was founded in 1819 by young Alexander Craighead, who opened a frontier store on Goose Creek and platted the town of Caledonia around it. Craighead, possessed of impeccable high Scotch-Irish family credentials, named the town after the Roman Empire’s Latin name for Scotland. The builders of Caledonia’s houses “cleaved to that chaste style of the early nineteenth century that Thomas Jefferson defined as proper for the Republic. The families must have been not only conservative in taste, but singularly devoted to a classical tradition in keeping with their Latin name, Caledonia (a rare place name for the United States).” When strolling through Caledonia, you will see the influence of Greek Revival Style architecture. Almost every house has a Greek Revival Style front door entryway.

In 1992, Mr. Flanders continued “Caledonia is different. It looks different. Most obvious to the visitor perhaps is that it remains ‘unspoiled’. Not only is it free of modern franchise glitz and roadside ‘conveniences’, but it retains in its streets, lots, dwellings and public buildings, its barns, gardens, fences, walls, yards, and walks, the imprint of its history. Still evident in its landscape is the intention of its founders that it be spacious, rational, enlightened, and Protestant Christian.”

Many of these old homes have been lovingly restored and now serve as antique shops or restaurants.

While in Caledonia, visit the Bellevue Presbyterian Cemetery and the church, the oldest protestant cemetery and church in continuous use west of the Mississippi River.

Caledonia is located on Hwy. 21, 10 miles north of Elephant Rocks State Park, at the junction of Hwy. 32.

Reference: The Kith and Kin of Caledonia, by Thomas Flanders, Ozarks Watch, Vol. V, No. 4, Spring 1992