High atop a rocky knoll in Hannibal, Missouri, sits an enormous house; a house constructed solely to fulfill a man's dream. That man, lumber baron, John J. Cruikshank, Jr., wanted a house to richly display the finest woods and furnishings money could buy, yet one that would emanate warmth and a feeling of quiet dignity.
In 1900, after two years of construction, his dream became a reality. He and his family moved into the Mansion and resided there until his death in 1924.
After his passing, the Mansion was vacated and remained unoccupied for 43 years. Left to time and the elements, at the prompting of municipal authorities, the Mansion was scheduled for demolition. Two weeks before the once lovely home was to be razed, threatening to leave nothing but memories amid the rubble, it was saved by three local families, and the process of restoration began.
Inside, these families found, under years of accumulated soot and grime, gigantic rooms and halls, Louis Comfort Tiffany designed stained-glass windows and chandeliers, hand-carved and ornate woodwork, marble and tiled fireplaces, custom-made gas/electric-combination lighting fixtures, and the finest plumbing fixtures (J.L. Mott Iron Works) and hardware (Yale & Towne) that money could buy.
"Rock Cliff", as the Mansion was known, was designed by the noted architectural firm of Barnett, Haynes & Barnett of St Louis. With double brick construction, this particular home was far more solid after a century than most homes built nowadays.
In its day, Rock Cliff hosted such luminaries as Samuel Clemens ("Mark Twain"), who entertained hundreds of Hannibal Society from the Mansion's Grand Staircase at a reception in 1902 during his last visit to Hannibal.
Today, Rockcliffe remains standing on a limestone bluff with majestic views of the Mississippi, and continues to annually welcome guests who visit this important historically significant landmark.
Rockcliffe Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Placesby the Secretary of Interior on September 18, 1980.
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