SELMA CASTLE/KENNETT'S CASTLE
Selma Hall, or "Kennett's Castle", is located four miles south of Festus and one mile east of Hwy. 61. Selma Hall, its formal name, is a house patterned after Northern Italian Rennaissance country houses. Geo. I. Barnett, an Englis trained St. Louis architect, designed the house for Ferdinand Kennett. Mr. Kennett was a Mississippi River steamboat operator. The cost when it was built in 1864 was $125,000.00, and it was considered one of, if not the best antebellum house in the state. Riverboat men called the place Kennett's Castle.
The house was gutted by fire in March of 1939 when it was owned by Wm. O. Schock of St. Louis, but has been restored by Nagel & Dunn to approximately its original appearance.
The mansion with grey limestone walls topped by a square, 4-story tower, overlooks the river or the east and landscaped grounds to the west. A series of terraces lie between the house and the river.
Selma Hall was built on land given to Mrs. Kennett (nee Julia Deadrick) by her grandfather, John Smith "T", an expert duelist and operator of one of the largest leadmines in the area. The Kennett family lived there until the Civil War era when the castle was often fired on from riverboats. The family fled to St. Louis for safety. Union forces were rumored to have stabled their horses in the mansion, and it beautiful building was left in ruin.
After restoration, Selma Hall and its imported furnishings rere representative of the wealth and taste of two aristocratic families, the Kennetts and the Smith "T" family.