THE CORBY MANSION
Built by Joseph Corby in 1882
Original 1860 Building Founder Unknown
Current Residents: David & Donna Clayton
History of the Mansion
One of Museum Hill's finest mansions, this structure was actually built in two stages. The rear wing is a two-story brick Italianate style that originally had its main entrance on Charles Street. In the foundation of the 1860 portion, train rails were used as rebar. A larger three story section facing 11th Street was added in 1882 when the property was acquired by Joseph Corby and updated in the then fashionable Second Empire style. Note the distinctive mansard roof and conical roofed ground level conservatory on the south side of the building. Most of the first floor windows in the 1882 addition are embellished with colorful stained glass transoms.
Joseph Corby was born in Cincinnati, Ohio July 25th, 1847, son of Francis P. Corby. His father was a native of Pennsylvania and his mother of Richmond, Indiana. Corby's ancestry is Irish. His grandfather, John Corby, married was
born in Limerick, Ireland.
His mother's parents were David Farmer and Mercy
Morgan of Richmond, Ind.
At the age of 11 Colonel Corby lost his mother, and his
father died in 1876. He was educated at Mount St. Mary's
College, in Cincinnati, and came to St. Joseph in 1867.
Here he engaged in the business of abstracts of title and
He was married November 27th, 1872, to Elizabeth,
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney S. Harris of St. Joseph.
Joseph E. Corby was married October 19th, 1904. to
Miss Jeanne Louise Jung of New Orleans, La., who died in
From July, 1863, to May, 1865, Colonel Corby served
in the Union Army. He was a member of the National
Guard of Missouri from December 22nd, 1880, to March
7th, 1900. He was Colonel of the Fourth Missouri Infantrv, Missouri Volunteers, in the Spanish-American war
from May 16th, 1898, to February 10th, 1899.
Many of the first enterprises which enabled St. Joseph
to keep abreast of the times owe their original and successful operation to Corby. He has done much to be
proud of in making St. Joseph "The City Worth While."
In the long list of things accomplished one finds that in
1873-75 he owned and published the St. Joseph Gazette. In
1878 he built the Frederick Avenue street car line. In
1879 the first telephone exchange in this city. In 1881 he
built the first telephone exchange in Atchison, Kansas;
also the telephone line from St. Joseph to Atchison, which
was the first telephone line west of Buffalo, N. Y., connecting two cities.
In 1883 he built the first electric plant here, and the
same year assisted in bringing the Pacific Mutual Telegraph line to St. Joseph. In 1885 he built an extension of
the same line from St. Joseph to Omaha, Nebraska.
Corby purchased the Citizens Street Railway
in 1887 and in 1889 sold the Frederick Avenue and the Citizens Line to the Peoples Street Railway, Electric Light and
Power Company. He was vice-president and general manager of the Peoples Company, during which time he built
the Messanie Street line, Grand Avenue line, and the Incandescent Light Plant.
The first electric railway in Denver, Colorado, was built by him in 1891. Corby is president of the Corby Building Company, which in 1910 erected the Corby-Forsee building at Fifth and
Felix streets, the first fireproof office building in the city,
twelve stories high. In 1917 two more stories were added
to provide a home for the St. Joseph Grain Exchange.
In affairs of civic nature Colonel Corby has always
taken an active part. He was president of the City Board
of Health from 1910 to 1914, and is now a member of the
State Board of Charities and Correction, a position to which
he was appointed by Governor Gardner in September, 1919.
He was a charter member of the Benton Club, which
was opened November 8th, 1887, and has affiliation with
the Knights of Columbus, having been Master of the Fourth
Degree in that order.
Religiously Corby is a Catholic and politically a
Currently the home is owned by David and Dee Clayton. They are in the process of refurbishing the 6500 sq ft mansion. Inside many of the original fireplaces, tiles, wallpaper, and stain glass windows can be seen.