The Old Rectory was built around 1880 as a home for the St. Joseph parish priests. Money wasn’t plentiful at the time. The pioneer parishioners, with their nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars accomplished the task of establishing a church, school, residence for nuns and a rectory. The Rectory served as the priests’ residence until 1980.The Old
Rectory is believed to be the first brick structure in Bonne Terre. The bricks were made on the property and then dried in the sun. All exterior walls are solid brick and 15 inches thick. (This can be observed by looking at the inset of the windows.)
There are 33 windows in the building with all facings and baseboard moldings nailed with square nails. All are made of Georgia pine. The interior walls are of solid brick and approximately 12 inches thick. The flooring is ¾ inch tongue and groove and also made of Georgia pine. In between the floor and ceilings, the space was filled with coke (a solid residue consisting mainly of carbon, left after the volatile elements have been driven from bituminous coal or other petroleum materials), possibly for insulation and sound deadening. The roof sheathing is of ¾ inch tongue and groove pine. Five fireplaces heated the building. The original lighting was furnished by Kerosene lamps. There were no closets in the original building.
On the exterior, there are metal stars about halfway up the walls between the first and second floor. They are attached to a steel rod that runs to the opposite wall and is attached to another star. A three foot square by fourteen feet high extension is located on the east wall just outside the rear door. It is believed that this was an above ground cistern that furnished water by gravity feed to the building.
There is no other structure like The Old Rectory in St. Francois County.
In 1980 the building was desperately in need of repair. It was closed and a new residence was built. This new residence is attached to the church. The Old Rectory was then used by the church for storage.
To honor their past and rich heritage, a group of parishioners entered into negotiations with the Archdiocese of St. Louis about the building. The building was purchased for one dollar. Renovations began in 1996 and were completed in 1999. The second floor houses a luxury apartment that is rented to help support the upkeep of The Old Rectory. The first floor houses a museum with mementos of early church history in Bonne Terre and elsewhere.
The Old Rectory is owned and operated by The Rectory, Inc., a not for profit corporation. It is an association which welcomes new members who care about the upkeep and continuing operation of the facility. Membership is ten dollars per year. For more information about the association please contact “The Rectory, Inc.” at P.O. Box 486, Bonne Terre, Mo. 63628.