William Luce commissioned the building of this home for his son Homer in 1856.
William Luce was a successful merchant who commissioned Levi Ruggles & Powhattan Baird to design and construct this Italianate style home for his son, Homer. It is a good example of how the Italianate style became popular in this area. The transition from the earlier Federal and Greek Revival styles is evident in this home. It has one fireplace that has an Italianate marble mantel and one that has a wooden mantel which is characteristic of the Greek Revival style. Another example of the stylistic blending in this home are the Italianate architraves with the Greek Revival pediments. The house was owned by several other notable Louisiana residents like D. P. Dyer and members of the Stark family. In 1900, the original staircase was replaced with an elaborately carved one. The Neo-Classical portico was added to the house in the 1930s. Other than that, the house retained most of the original woodwork and doors.1
David Patterson Dyer is one of the most notable residents of this home. He was born on February 12, 1838 in Henry County, Virginia. He was the youngest of twelve children born to David Dalton and Nancy Reynolds Salmon Dyer. His father was a politician and was serving in the senate when David was born. His middle name, Patterson, was chosen because it was the last name of one his father’s colleagues and fellow senator. Dyer describes his family’s journey to Missouri:
“In 1841 my father and mother, with the seven remaining children and a few slaves, left the old home in Henry County, Virginia, and after six weeks of hardship on the way, came to Missouri. The means of transportation used by my father from Virginia to Missouri consisted of two large wagons (made by convicts in the Virginia Penitentiary in Richmond), each of which were drawn by four horses. In these two wagons were placed the household goods that had accumulated in the Virginia home. Everything being ready, the “whip was cracked” and the start was made for Missouri, a thousand miles and more away. For six long weeks they journeyed before the goal was readied.
Over hills and through valleys, over mountains and across rivers, they traveled from Virginia through Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, until the great Mississippi River was reached and crossed. The children (except the youngest) and the negroes “footed it” practically all of the way. At nightfall camps were made on the roadside, tents pitched, fires lighted, horses tethered, watered and fed, meals cooked on open fires, beds made in wagons and on the ground, prayers said, and beneath the twinkling stars, sleep was eagerly sought by each and every one of the tired party composing that group of hopeful and joyous movers.”
In 1857, he left home to study law in the office of Hon. James Overton Broadhead. His career as a lawyer was quite successful. His interest in politics led him to attend the Lincoln- Douglas debate that was taking place in Quincy, Illinois on October 13, 1858. He had this to say about his experience:
” I was curious to hear everything that was to be said by the representative of either party, and especially by the Republican. I fell in behind the procession, which after awhile halted in front of the hotel where Mr. Lincoln was stopping. There was much enthusiasm and much cheering as Mr. Lincoln appeared upon the balcony to say a few words of thanks. I saw him on two or three occasions during the day, but never again after that time. His sincere face, so full of tenderness and seeming sadness, made a deep and lasting impression upon me. The debate that day between Mr. Lincoln and Senator Douglas took place in a public park, and the crowd that gathered there was immense. Douglas was short in stature but a great orator. Lincoln was tall, ungainly-looking, with a bronzed face, a voice not near so charming as that of his opponent, but his power as a logical and convincing debater, in my opinion, surpassed that of Mr. Douglas. I was only twenty years old at the time and my sympathies were with Mr. Douglas, but the logical reasoning of Mr. Lincoln shook my faith in the correctness of Mr. Douglas’s position.” 3
He was elected the State’s Attorney for Missouri in 1860. When the Civil War broke out, Dyer joined the Union Army. He eventually became Colonel of the 49th Regiment of the Missouri Infantry. He married Lizzie Hunt on November 15, 1860. Together they had six children: Ezra Hunt, Emma Grace, Lizzie Logan, David P., Horace Levi, and Maria Louise. From 1862 to 1865, he served in the Missouri House of Representatives. He served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1868. He later served as a judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri under Theodore Roosevelt. He died in St. Louis on April 29, 1924 and was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery.
The Luce- Dyer House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 after it was bought by Merton and Edith Carlson. Mrs. Carlson donated the house to the Twin Pikes YMCA, and it was auctioned in 2000. On July 10, 2016, the house caught on fire. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but it took multiple fire departments over 12 hours to extinguish the fire. The fire severely damaged the house. Restoration efforts are still in progress. 5