folk sellari

Folk-Sellari House
630 W. Main St.

The Folk-Sellari House, also known as “Villa della Rosa,” was built by William Nixon in 1857.  The two-story frame structure gained prominence as the birthplace of the Honorable Joseph W. Folk, former governor of Missouri.  After graduating from the Brownsville Academy, Folk first took a job as a clerk and bookkeeper in Memphis before attending Vanderbilt University in Nashville where he earned a law degree in 1891. He moved to St. Louis to open a practice two years later.  A Progressive reformer, Folk was elected governor of Missouri in 1904.  Leaving office five years later, he ended up in Washington D.C. serving President Woodrow Wilson in the State Department.  After unsuccessful attempts at the U.S. Senate seat from Missouri he finished his career as an attorney in the nation’s capitol.  His Washington D.C. residence is now the Embassy of Mauritania.  Folk died in 1923 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

In 1967, the house was purchased by another of Brownsville’s prominent 20th century families; the Sellaris.  Artiode Antonio Sellari immigrated to town from Ostra, Italy in 1909 at the age 26.  He learned from his father while in Italy how to prepare wax for re-stitching shoes, leading Artiode to open his own shoe rebuilding shop on the square in 1919.  As he perfected the formula his business grew and in 1953 he built a factory in Brownsville, the Sellari Natural Wax Company.  The business is still run by the Sellari family.  Artiode, however, died in 1961, but his son, Louis, opened a café called the Kreme Kastle on the Memphis to Bristol Highway at South Grand and West Main, hoping to capture traffic along the “Broadway of America.”  Fresh homemade donuts, ice cream and burgers filled the menu back then.  Louis and his wife, Shirley, are responsible for restoring the Folk House.

College Hill Historic District