This residence was built in the Shaker style in 1837. Its owner, Leonard Howard, a contractor and builder, was also proprietor of the Howard House Hotel. His wife, Caroline, was a member of the spiritualist movement and believed that the spirits of the dead could send and receive messages through her and others who knew how to contact them.
It is said that Mrs. Howard played a role in the infamous Richard's Riot of 1849. Her psychic powers reportedly enabled her to reveal the location of the body of a recently deceased young bride named Mrs. Kenyon, which had been robbed by a Franklin Medical College student.
Howard and her daughters held many seances in the house,
and the services that Mrs. Howard offered became quite
popular with grieving wives during the
Civil War. Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln, who had suffered the loss of her huband
and two of her sons, came to St. Charles in 1871. It is said that she consulted
Mrs. Howard daily while she stayed at the Howard House Hotel under the alias
of "Mrs. May."
Caroline Howard died, one of her daughters continued
conducting the seances in the home. Eventually she married
C.L. Blanchard, who was an undertaker.
For a short time, the house served as a funeral parlor. One of the downstairs
was used as an embalming and viewing room until Mr. Blanchard relocated
the business to a building on Main Street. The front
door of the house still
the name "C.L.
Blanchard" etched into the glass.
Leonard Howard House served as a residence for three
generations of the Howard family. After the last of the
family passed away, the home was
began. During the renovations, several discoveries were made. Two antique
parasols, one of which now resides in the St. Charles History Museum,
in the house. A book dating from 1834, which had been hidden between
two walls, was also found. At an estate sale held in
the 1990s, a shawl belonging
Todd Lincoln was auctioned, along with several other important antiques
from the house.
house has been restored and it remains one of the most
historic houses in St. Charles.
photographs, see these sources,
more fully described in the Bibliography.
Houses Vertical File
Reflections of St. Charles p 48
Howard House Hotel
G.W. Richard's House
Hazel. Our Community--St. Charles. 1967.
Ruth Ann. Reflections of St. Charles. Elgin: Brethern
Renovates an 1837 Residence." Kane County Chronicle
19 Dec. 1997, C:16:1.
Diane. "St. Charles Spiritual History." St. Charles
Chronicle 1 April 1988.
Charles Chronicle. 11 June 1969.