Located just outside the plotted block of Washington, this Greek Revival house sat on the current site of the Brunson House until it was demolished around 1950. It belonged to Bernard F. Hempstead, a lawyer and politician who cofounded the local Independent Order of Odd Fellows lodge. Hempstead owned up to 260 acres by 1860, when it’s believed the house was built.
Backstory and Context
Born in 1817 in New London, Connecticut, Bernard F. Hempstead’s family would later settle in St. Louis, Missouri. After starting as a "printer boy" for the St. Louis Republican newspaper, he studied law under his brother Samuel H. Hempstead’s practice in Little Rock. He started practicing law in Washington around 1840, and in 1842 was enrolled as attorney of the Hempstead County Circuit Court. His law partners over the years included Washington’s finest, including Thomas Hubbard, Orville Jennings, and John R. Eakin. His political career began on the town council, including one term as the executive Alderman. He had two failed bids for state representative as a Whig, but held patronage positions over the years, including Receiver of Public Monies and Swap Land Agent. He also founded many local organizations, including the pro-railroad Hempstead County Industrial Association, and Ozan Lodge No. 9 of the charitable Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
In 1849, he married S. Pauline Gratiot, sister of John Gratiot; they had no children. Hempstead died suddenly of pneumonia at his home on December 19, 1872. The house remained in his widow’s hands until her death in 1909.