At 6:00 in the morning during homecoming week in the fall of 1977, the sound of a well-practiced marching band on the Jays’ football field echoes up the hill to the houses on Moreau Drive. The sound of the brass and percussion instruments vibrates the original glass windows of the Victorian Style home, yet it is no match for the 12-inch thick brick walls covered with limestone. The sound of the Jefferson City Jays Band always made Ann Monaco Warren’s mother, Mildred, happy — a reminder of her drum majorette years. Ann was a Jayette (a member of the pep squad). She heard these sounds regularly, yet she still enjoyed it as her wake-up call in her childhood home at Vineyard Place.
Mildred Monaco brought Vineyard Place to life. The original builder, Governor John C. Edwards, abandoned the home before all the exterior work was complete in the 1840s. After years of vacancy and aging, there were many improvements to be made. The last known use for the home was as a boarding house following World War II. Mildred and her husband, Nicholas Monaco, purchased the building in 1964, taking a year to restore the existing structure into a stunning Victorian-style home. When renovations were completed in July 1965, the Monaco family of five moved in.
It was First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s interest in historic preservation and White House style that inspired the authentic restoration and interior decorating. The 12-foot ceilings throughout the house easily fit the elegant Jackie O style. Ann (4 years old at the time) was at her mother’s side as she traveled to antique sales and auctions, fact-checking historical accuracy and envisioning the style she dreamt of for the home. From lighting fixtures to furniture, the home was filled with a stylish collection from the past. Although it was a feat to restore the interior, the integrity of the home was evident from all the features that were preserved from its original construction. The six-bedroom, five-bath, three-story home with a basement has all the original doors, marble doorknobs, locks, woodwork, fireplaces, transoms, and most of the glass windows — a few of them had to be replaced during the restoration.
The front door opens to a staircase with an elegant wood banister. To the south, a library and dining room, mirrored to the north by a double parlor. The formal dining room features a unique pewter chandelier and hand-painted wallpaper depicting the four seasons. The double parlors have sitting areas with delicate Oriental rugs and a Rosewood piano. Originally the family room was a porch, and the kitchen and pantry were summer and winter kitchens. When the family was renovating in 1964, the only existing bathroom for the house was on the first floor, next to the staircase. In the bathrooms added by the Monacos, crystal lights illuminate the antique mirrors and hand-painted sinks.
Growing up, Ann’s room was on the second floor, next to her brother Mike’s, sharing the south half of the house. She had two closets and he only had one. Since she had only Immaculate Conception school uniforms and church clothes, there was plenty of room to utilize her second closet for other activities. Taking advantage of the adjustable shelves, she created a dreamy dollhouse for her Barbies, equipped with a garage for the famous pink convertible. Nick and Mildred’s master bedroom, bath, vanity, and closets make up the north side of the second floor. The large master bath and vanity area is also delicately decorated and features a ceiling-high, wall-width vanity mirror.
The third floor featured the yellow bedroom. It was a haven for the Monaco sisters. Ann made many early teenage memories in that room, from listening to the first Beatles album to dancing to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” with her sister. The room across the hall served as an additional guest room.
On the roof, the Widow’s Walk is a noted feature, surrounded by dormered windows and yellow walls. Her brother and a friend once climbed out of the window, hoping to investigate the Widow’s Walk more closely, only to be caught by his friend’s dad driving by. He immediately called Mildred, and the adventure was quickly and safely halted.
The basement served as another refuge for the kids. Ann, her siblings, and their friends strung lights, played Twister, and danced to 45s.
The Moreau Drive and Elmerine area has been magical for many families over the years, and it was not any less enchanting for the Monaco family. Although she grew up in an extraordinary house, Ann felt as it was no different from any other home around her. The beautiful style and decor that Mildred brought to the house were emulated by many Jefferson City women. She was a trendsetter as well as a historian, inspiring many of her peers to similarly decorate their homes and become invested in the Cole County Historical Society. Vineyard Place truly set the stage for the other historical homes in this eastside neighborhood of Jefferson City.