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Returning To The Past To Shape The Future

Cottleville Is Quickly Becoming A Destination City

“Indian tribes, Spanish conquistadors, French expansionists, European migrants, Revolutionary War Heroes and American frontiersmen began the journey of exploration in the area known as Cottleville, which was founded in 1839 by Lorenzo Cottle, and all have called it home.”

The passage is contained in the preface of Sheryl Spellmann Guffey’s book: Cottleville–Where History Never Grows Old–The Cottle Family Story. Sheryl wasn’t only a Spellmann—daughter of the late Dennis Spellman, who is widely celebrated as the person who saved Lindenwood University—but also a Cottle, for which the now burgeoning city is named. Situated near the basins of the Ohio, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and butting up to the Dardenne waterway, Cottleville encompasses only about 100 acres. But its history, and now its growing popularity as a destination city is vast. Located just 10 miles west of St. Charles and a day’s journey from the Mighty Mississippi at the time of its founding, Indian trails turned into roads leading westward through Missouri for covered wagons and stage and mail coaches. (At one time, Western Plank Road—created from the first Indian horse Trails then stage coaches—was constructed of wooden planks from St. Charles to Cottleville. But the planks washed away, rotted and were stolen by settlers and others.)

Capt. Warren Cottle wrote a letter to his hometown in Woodstock, Vermont, after coming to the area in 1798. He described what he saw as “a Garden of Eden.” Some 100 people listened and joined him to settle there. His grandson, Lorenzo Cottle, went on to draw the first map of the city on the back of a campaign poster for President George Washington and thus create the township of Cottleville in 1839.

In 2003, Cottleville passed legislation to revitalize its downtown area. The city has doubled in population since then, and many of its buildings along the same streets Lorenzo drew have been repurposed to enhance the city’s charm while preserving its heritage. Here City Lifestyle acknowledges just a few of the old buildings that Cottleville residents and investors have timelessly and remarkably restored in the 21st Century.  

Chris Schreves is one such person. The self-taught financial planner, designer, builder and restaurateur has completed a couple of projects already, including Public School House—a transformation of the city’s first one-room school house, built in 1875, into one of the region’s premier event venues—and the site of his company, Securus. He’s currently working on another—Oak Street Inn & Lounge—where he is repurposing much of the wood from the 1862 building into a seven-room hotel, restaurant/bar, café and speakeasy.

The building at 5221 Oak St. was for many years the Oak Street General Store and Hotel, as well as the Cottleville Corner Junkstore. In the early 1900s, it housed the post office and was known as Tiedemann's Store—owned and operated by Clyde Tiedemann.

“I do this because it brings me peace and happiness,” Chris says of his designs and renovations in Cottleville, where he has painstakingly saved much of the original structures. “I think tearing them down would have been tragic. These new buildings legitimately have the old structures inside of them.”

Frankie Martin’s Garden is dubbed the “food truck destination in Cottleville, MO.” But the property at 5372 St. Charles Street is so much more than that. The Garden offers a library of more than 200 whiskeys from around the world, a curated 40-option list of fine wine, local craft beer, all served from a converted 130-year-old home they call “The House.” Originally the Albert Busch Estate and later owned by the late Frank Martin, The House was built in 1880. Keeping the bones of the home, local chef and restaurateur Brian Hardesty and Seneca Commercial Real Estate added classic flair and a modern twist to make an inviting, yet sophisticated place.

Along with offering a variety of cuisines from more than 25 food truck partners serving lunch and dinner every day of the week, Frankie Martin’s hosts weekly events from brunch and trivia nights to live music and yoga in and around its pergolas and pavilions, picnic tables and fire pits on its nearly three-acre site. There are also pickleball courts, a sand volleyball court, and a 26-foot outdoor LED screen for sports games and movies.

Even the name honors history. Born Nov. 15, 1945, Frank J. Martin was a beloved Cottleville resident and a fixture of its community. Known for his charitable nature and fun personality, Frank was a member of St. Joseph Church and School in Cottleville and was employed as a maintenance worker there for more than 50 years. He was also a knight in the Knights of Columbus and a frequent customer at local bars and restaurants. Frank passed on in 2020 at the age of 74.

“Today, we honor Frankie with his own garden built right where he used to live,” Frankie Martin’s site proclaims. “We revived his former home and made it our centerpiece, The House. Our vision for the garden, which lies on his previous property and farm, is to foster a place where the whole community can come together and celebrate daily.”

City of Cottleville officials declared June 2, Frankie Martin Day.

The Cottleville Wine Seller, a wine garden and restaurant, has become a hub of entertainment in St. Charles County and beyond. The property on which it stands was originally owned by the Cottle family and later by David K. Pitman, William C. Ellis, James A. Barnes, Herman Pohl and F. Weinerbur, in that order. Henry Fryer built the current standing structure in 1885.

A wine garden and restaurant offering more than 200 different labels of wines from around the world along with a large and unique beer selection, Cottleville Wine Seller is often referred to as “a gem, in a cute little town.” The Wine Seller offers live music on Fridays and Saturdays and seasonally on Thursdays and Sundays. It has fire pits, heaters, two waterfalls and a beautiful patio that add to its ambiance.

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