Mr. J. B. Moss twice toured Europe and the Near East in his bachelor days prior to 1891. In his travels, he collected many objects of art which later adorned his home.
He was most impressed with the style and graceful architecture of the French chalets of the Loire Valley, and he was determined to create a unique home with an authentic roof garden on his property at 906 Sylvanie. To accomplish this, he engaged the services of his friends Eckel & Mann, architects of St. Joseph. In their employ at that time was Harvey Ellis, the eccentric, erratic, brilliant individual who has become more famous and more controversial with the passing of time.
By 1891, there had arisen at 906 Sylvanie "a fabled castle of fantastic medievalism." The lower entrance hall off Sylvanie Street is entirely paneled in English oak. The floor of the entry area is mosaic tile, which was imported from Italy and done in Romanesque design. The delicate imported stained-glass windows enhance the charm of the circular waiting room adjacent to the front floor.
The hand-carved stairway, which gracefully rises three flights, was hand-crafted in England of solid oak, as was all of the paneling in the home. Other details include leaded-glass windows throughout the house and beautifully formed bay window areas in the library, dining and drawing rooms. Three unusual fireplaces, each one unique in design, were incorporated on the first floor. The ornate hardware, such as the doorknobs, plates and hinges, is engraved and cut out of solid brass of exquisite design.
The roof garden on the second floor quickly became a vine-covered area of beauty and charm. No other garden of this type was ever constructed in a residence in the four-state area, according to architectural records.
The exterior of the house reflects the Romanesque-Gothic motif and ornamentation. The variety of brick textures and coloring created a wavering surface of light and shadow. The combined use of egg and dart moldings, tourelles, slate roof and copper guttering made 906 Sylvanie a superb example of originality, tradition and quality.
The interior of the home was furnished with Oriental rugs, tapestries and objects of art. Many of the appointments were family heirlooms and items purchased in Europe and the Near East.
Although a bachelor when the construction began, Mr. Moss was married to Miss Mary Word Leach on February 24, 1891. After their honeymoon in Mexico, Mr. and Mrs. Moss returned to their home at 906 Sylvanie, where they resided for approximately 37 years. Mr. Moss's aunt, Mrs. Edwards, and Mrs. Moss's mother, Mrs. McFarland, both lived with them until their deaths.
In 1930, the house was sold to the Knights of Columbus. They retained possession for 44 years, during which time it was used as a combination office and clubhouse.
In early 1974, it was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. E.C. Barbosa, and after extensive remodeling and redecorating, the house was reopened as Barbosa's Castillo in May of 1974.
These notes were complied from Mr. Moss's own articles, recollections of family and friends, the St. Joseph News-Press, and Portrait and Biographical Record of Buchanan and Clinton Counties, Chapman Bros, Chicago, 1893.