Take a peek inside ‘Mio Nonni’s Casa,’ Marcia and Tim Dorsey’s rehabbed stone house in Carondelet

By KELLY MOFFITT • MAY 24, 2017

Just east of Broadway in the Patch neighborhood of Carondelet stands a small, rough-cut stone house. The structure, over 160 years old, is set to receive a ‘Most Enhanced’ building award from the Landmarks Association of St. Louis this Thursday evening.

Set back from the corner of Water and Steins streets, a freshly-poured walkway leads up to a shaded front porch. The house looks a little out of place in this industrial neighborhood. It is nestled caddy-corner from a nondescript packing company, next to some active train tracks and set back from a boarded-up structure on its right.

The 22-foot wide and 18-foot deep house was the childhood home of Marcia Dorsey, mother of Twitter founder and St. Louis native Jack Dorsey. She lived on the property with her parents and Italian grandmother until the fourth grade.

The house was originally constructed in the 1850s of limestone and Mississippi sand mortar, a common, vernacular style of the time. The house includes a limestone fireplace nestled in the basement of the house.

While the structure stood sound for over 100 years, after Marcia’s family moved away, the single-room house changed hands several times. It was during that time the property fell into disrepair, besieged by fire and the elements.

By the time Marcia and her husband Tim Dorsey got their hands on the property once more, the roof and floor were gone, the mortar was falling out between the stones and the basement was filled with debris 6-feet tall.

Marcia and her husband Tim have spent the last two and a half years rehabilitating the house. They call it “Mio Nonni’s Casa,” a nod to Marcia’s ancestry.

“I grew up here and I feel like it was always part of me. When the shell just stood and stood and stood and it was always in my heart we’d be able to take the building back,” Marcia told St. Louis on the Air producer Kelly Moffitt.

There are less than 50 such stone houses left in the St. Louis region today, according to Andrew Weil, the executive director of the Landmarks Association of St. Louis.

Listen to a full audio tour inside the house here:

Here’s a view of what 124 East Steins Street looked like when Marcia and Tim reclaimed the property in 2014. You can see the roof is missing, as is the floor and the mortar is crumbling between the stones. The home was actually on the Landmarks Association of St. Louis’ “Most Endangered” buildings list in 2009.

124 East Steins lies vacant.
CREDIT ANDREW WEIL | LANDMARKS ASSOCIATION OF ST. LOUIS

Saints Mary and Joseph guard the walkway up to 124 East Steins Street. Such statues can be found throughout the property as well as angels, which Marcia says are an homage to her Italian grandmother.

Statues of Saints Mary and Joseph guard the walkway to 124 East Steins Street; A custom-made wooden door marks the entrance to the house.
CREDIT KELLY MOFFITT | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

“Mio Nonni’s Casa” is inscribed in the cement walkway leading to the house.

“Mio Nonni’s Casa” is inscribed in the walkway leading to the house.
CREDIT KELLY MOFFITT | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

New additions to 124 East Steins Street include indoor plumbing, air conditioning and a security system, all installed in the basement of the building.

New additions to 124 East Steins Street include indoor plumbing, air conditioning and a security system, all installed in the basement of the building.
CREDIT KELLY MOFFITT | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

A limestone fireplace sits in the basement of 124 East Steins Street. All but the brick base is original, although the limestone hood had to be pieced back together after years of disrepair.

A limestone fireplace sits in the basement of 124 East Steins Street. All but the brick base is original, although the limestone hood had to be pieced back together after years of disrepair.
CREDIT KELLY MOFFITT | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

A door and two windows are also a part of the rehabilitated basement.
CREDIT KELLY MOFFITT | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

A detailed view of the limestone (and a few bricks) on the exterior of the house.

A close-up view of the limestone (and a little bit of brick) outside of the house.
CREDIT KELLY MOFFITT | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Marcia and Tim Dorsey pose in front of 124 East Steins Street.

Marcia and Tim Dorsey pose in front of 124 East Steins Street.
CREDIT KELLY MOFFITT | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

A view of the side of 124 East Steins Street. Directly behind the the property, you can see a row of retail shops along Broadway in Carondelet.

A view of 124 East Steins Street from the side via Water Street.
CREDIT KELLY MOFFITT | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

And, naturally, you can follow the entire restoration process of the house on Twitter at @MioNonnisCasa.

This house and several others, as yet unannounced, will be honored at Thursday’s 21st Annual Landmarks Association of St. Louis “Most Enhanced Awards” taking place at 5:45 p.m. at the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, 3224 Locust St., Suite 401. More details can be found here.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

Please follow and like us: