Rose O'Neill House

It is amazing that the little white house on the edge of Drury’s campus once belonged to the highest-paid illustrator in America. Rose O’Neill was an artist, a writer, and an advocate for the women’s suffrage movement. Because of her desire to give back and help other artists, she died penniless in her home on Summit Street. Her legacy lives on, not just in Southwest Missouri, but throughout the world.

O’Neill’s art documented American life at the turn-of-the-century from a woman’s point of view. Jacqueline Warren, associate professor at Drury and artist-in-residence, describes her as, “a female Norman Rockwell, just 50 years earlier.” O’Neill is best known for her invention of the Kewpie Doll.

As a celebration of the legacy of Rose O’Neill, Drury University is restoring her last home. Richard Nelson, the contractor who is in charge of the restoration says, “I like it because it is a challenge and not everyone can do it.” All of the original 1907 woodwork, stained glass, and brick has been saved and utilized throughout the turn-of-the-century furnished house.

The restored Rose O’Neill House is designed for a number of uses, including an office for the Women and Gender Studies at Drury. Dr. Katie Gilbert, assistant professor of English and director of Women’s Studies, hopes the house will be used for “group gatherings for activities,” and, “a place for students to feel welcome, safe, and inspired.”

Article written by Katie Felkel and edited by Megan Waterman (current students)