august the mansion photo by lauren healey

First Look: August The Mansion in O'Fallon, Illinois

A beautiful historical landmark has recently opened as a New American restaurant called August The Mansion at 1680 Mansion Way in O’Fallon, Illinois.

This Italianate-style family farmhouse was built in 1857 by Augustus J. Wastfield and remained a home until the 1990s, when it became a restaurant called The Mansion at Lakepointe Centre. Two more restaurants operated there over the years, most recently The Grill at the Mansion until 2019, when the building was put up for sale.

When it went to auction in 2020, Candice and Justin Mills – who own the neighboring Terra Veta consulting services business – leapt at the chance to own a piece of history that’s been near and dear to the hearts of locals for decades. 

“We fell in love with the mansion building from when we first visited for our wedding anniversary when it was still Paulo’s at the Mansion [from 2007 to 2015] the first year after we moved here, enough so that it influenced where our Terra Veta office is,” Candice Mills said. “We felt it’s something so unique and loved by the community and still had so much potential to offer. We wanted to build what we ourselves look for during a night out - great food, service, people and atmosphere.”

With executive chef Jessica Hickman (formerly of Niche Food Group) at the kitchen helm, the team went about creating a New American menu that showcases a range of cuisines, allowing them to “have a broader degree of creativity and leverage the full depth of their experiences to introduce a variety of dishes combining familiar and new flavors,” Mills explained. “We really wanted to focus on creating a place that we would want to eat every day.” 

From a kale Caesar salad with freshly zested lemon to a Peruvian chicken dish served atop creamy aji verde and alongside flavorful chile-lime potatoes and cauliflower, the wide range of influences is evident. You can also expect a crowd-pleasing burger and fries, as well as beef short rib with sweet corn polenta and heirloom carrots. For dessert, don’t miss the Basque cheesecake or the newly added strawberry shortcake made with a ginger biscuit, macerated berries and Baileys’ whipped cream.

The beverage menu takes inspiration from the history of the building and aims to ensure there’s something for everyone. “Since August was a wheat farmer, we’ve integrated a number of wheat-based products into our cocktail menu, leaning on whiskey and vodka,” Mills said. “Quality, balance and variety were key aspects in the decisions about what to include and build into the menu, from our tequila being additive-free for the best quality, to making sure that each beverage is as enjoyable to sip as-is, while also offering well-paired options with the food menu.”

The Mansiontini pays homage to a drink on one of the prior restaurant menus here, but has been reimagined by utilizing a limited-edition gin favored by the owners. “Whether it’s a stiffer stirred drink, light and citrusy, or an easy sipper, we have an option available, and a bar stocked to meet most custom requests as well,” she said. 

Other beverage highlights include classics like a Paloma, Old-Fashioned, Negroni and a martini, plus a few others like the Mississippi Buzz with rum, vodka, coffee liqueur, orange and spiced chocolate. 

The historic building has had a few additions over the years, now coming in at about 6,500 square feet with three separate indoor dining areas, one of which includes a bar with a few seats, plus a lovely patio space. In total, August the Mansion seats 125 guests. Renovations are underway for the upstairs, which will be used for private events.

“Our focus during the renovation was to find where we could restore and highlight as many of the features and charm of the original home or to preserve the characteristics from previous owners over the past many decades – the chandeliers, tin ceiling, molding, fireplaces, banister, balcony, stained glass windows, wooden floors and doors – which tell the broader story of the home’s history over time,” Mills said. “Beyond that, we focused on what we wanted guests to feel when they came in, which were spaces that felt clean, comfortable and inviting.”

The restaurant has only been open a few weeks, but it’s already had a great response from the community, both in turnout and feedback. “We feel a great responsibility toward being as much of and more than what the community expects from us, given how well the building is recognized locally,” Mills said. “There is such a huge feeling of joy for the property being open as a restaurant again and excitement about what we’re offering – aesthetically, in the menu and in the level of service.”

August The Mansion is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.