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Lewis Reed’s 25-Year Political Career (1997-2022)

June 8, 2022 Featured, History/Preservation, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Lewis Reed’s 25-Year Political Career (1997-2022)

Former 21st ward alderman John Collin-Muhammad resigned two weeks prior to a federal indictment against him and two others was unsealed. Jeffery Boyd resigned his long held seat as 22nd ward alderman the day after the indictment became public.

The third indicted was board president Lewis Reed, who resigned yesterday.

All three may avoid guilty verdicts in court, but politically they’re finished.

I never trusted Lewis Reed, I never could get a direct answer from him. He’d always just laugh and change the subject. Huge red flag in my book. Yuge!

Thankfully I can proudly say I’ve never voted for Lewis Reed. Not when he first ran for the citywide office in 2007, or re-election three times since. I never voted for him when he ran for Mayor.

Here’s a brief outline of Reed’s political career in St. Louis.

Reed was the campaign manager for 6th ward alderwoman Marit Clark’s 1997 independent run for mayor against Democratic nominee Clarance Harmon. Reed’s day job was as a computer network manager for a hospital group.

Harmon won the race but Reed got himself appointed to the St. Louis Port Authority, quickly becoming the chair. By 1999 Clark decided to retire from the Board of Aldernen, Reed was one of three candidates to become Alderman in the 6th ward. The other two were Patrick Cacchione and Brian Ireland.

Lewis Reed won his first election in St. Louis.

In the Spring of 2001 board president Francis Slay was elected mayor, alderman Jim Shrewsbury elected board president.

It was as 6th ward alderman that Reed came to my attention in 2006, over a planned police substation in the Tower Grove East neighborhood. It was known in the Fall of 2006 that Reed would be challenging board president Jim Shrewsbury in the Spring of 2007, causing people to begin planning to replace him on the board, representing the 6th ward.

From Reed’s 2007 campaign website running for board president. Saved on 3/6/2007 — knew it would eventually be useful.

Reed won his first citywide election in the March 2007 partisan primary by defeating 2-term president Shrewsbury, becoming president of the board the following month.

In March 2013 Reed ran for mayor for the first time, losing to incumbent Francis Slay. He remained president of the board since it was elected two years off from the mayoral race.

In Spring 2017 Reed again ran for mayor, but this time incumbent Slay wasn’t seeking a 4th term. The Democratic primary was packed with people wanting to become mayor. Others on the ballot included then 21st ward alderman Antonio French, Treasurer Tishaura Jones, 22nd ward alderman Jeffrey Boyd, and 28th ward alderwoman Lyda Krewson. Krewson became the city’s first female mayor. Every other candidate kept their existing elected sears that year, except Antonio French. John Collins-Muhammad was elected 21st ward alderman, succeeding French.

There’s a lot more detail I probably could’ve researched/included, but I think you get the overall picture of Reed’s 25 year political career in St. Louis.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis’ Dr Martin Luther King Drive 2022

January 17, 2022 Featured, History/Preservation, MLK Jr. Drive, North City Comments Off on St. Louis’ Dr Martin Luther King Drive 2022

Today’s post is a look at Martin Luther King Jr  Drive in the City of St. Louis — my 18th annual such post. As in the 17 times prior, I traveled the length in both directions looking for changes from the previous year.

Streetsign

Not much has changed since MLK Day 2021 but I’ll detail them later. First I want to address how the street gots it name, and when. After Dr  King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968 some cities began almost immediately to rename major streets in his honor. St. Louis took four years.

In 2017 I quoted the following 2013 post on Facebook:

Stl250
February 17, 2013 

This Day in St. Louis History, February 17, 1972:
Martin Luther King Boulevard is dedicated
A Board of Aldermen bill was passed that changed the name of Easton Avenue and portions of Franklin Avenue to Martin Luther King Boulevard. Alderman C.B. Broussard was a primary sponsor, and he announced that the change was part of a nationwide organized drive to rename streets in honor of the murdered civil rights figure.

Sounds good, but in fact-checking I discovered it is partly inaccurate. I should’ve checked the accuracy in 2017. “Dedicated” implies an event, media, long-winded speeches, and big scissors to cut a ribbon — which did not occur.

Here’s what really happened:

  • February 18, 1972: A bill was introduced to rename part of Franklin  Avenue and all of Easton Avenue. (Post-Dispatch 2/19/1972 P7)
  • March 21, 1972: Board of Aldermen gave final approval to bill 20-2 earlier in the day. (Post-Dispatch 3/21/1972 P27)
  • Spokesperson for Mayor Cervantes said he would sign the bill the following week. (Post-Dispatch 3/31/1972 P19)
  • Post-Dispatch editorial expressed “reservations” about renaming Franklin & Easton for Dr. King. They weren’t sure it was a worthy honor. They favored a new park or boulevard. (Post-Dispatch 4/2/1972 P108)
  • East St. Louis mayor James E. Williams Sr. announced his city would rename the Veterans Memorial Bridge and Illinois Ave to honor Dr. King. This would mean a person could travel from the east limits of East St. Louis to the west limits of St. Louis on roads honoring Dr. King (Post-Dispatch 4/11/1972)

After the official change before businesses changed their letterhead, and the public continued to use the old names. Unfortunately it was only a few years after MLK was honored through East St. Louis IL and Saint Louis that construction began on a convention center, closing two blocks of King Blvd between 7th and 9th. D’oh!

Ok, let’s start on the east end and heading west.

On MLK, facing west toward Tucker Blvd. On the right is the former Post-Dispatch building, now housing the St. Louis offices of digital payment company Square. On the left is Interco Plaza. This block is now one-way westbound.
Interco Plaza, a public park, after being “closed for renovation” in September 2021 as a way of relocating the unhoused that had set up camp. The background is St. Patrick Center, a non-profit organized to “combat homelessness.” This public park has not yet reopened to the public.
A year ago I mentioned the old buildings that were razed on MLK just east of 14th. Now we have a surface parking lot with zero fencing, landscaping, trees, etc. Plus a new driveway. Why do hip tech businesses locate in downtowns if they don’t want to design for downtowns?
Imo’s Pizza is adding onto the east side of their headquarters/warehouse. 16th Street has been closed to vehicles and pedestrians for years — a subtle way to say “keep out” to north side who want to enter the more prosperous Downtown West neighborhood.
Hard to see in this photo, but clear plastic bottles have been put into the holes in a chainlink fence. I found it interesting. NW corner of MLK & Vandeventer.
Last month the non-profit Dismas House announced it bought the former 15-acre Killark Electric Manufacturing property at 3940 MLK.
Liked the 100k SF building for many years, not a fan of the replacement windows that were installed decades ago. Killark first leased the site in 1918, not sure when they bought it or built this building.
“KILLARK ELECTRIC MFG CO.” is in stone at the top of the main building. City records list 8 buildings on the site, but I can only see records for six. Of the 6, the oldest is from 1892 and the newest is 1966.
The glass-enclosed entry doesn’t look original, but it has been in place as long as I can recall.
From MLK I could see a community garden at Sarah & Evans. Click image to see Good Life Growing’s website.
More bricks have fallen off the front of 4277 MLK.
4749 MLK has looked bad for years, but thankfully it has been getting some stabilization.
4859 MLK has also looked bad for a long time, noticed a little bit of the side wall has collapsed. 4961 next door is also in poor condition. The building on the left is privately owned, right is owned by the LRA. Both were built in 1905.
The setback building at 4973 MLK, just east of Kingshighway, has been mostly finished for many years. New this year is temporary construction fencing. The side lot out to Kingshighway has been disturbed recently.
5084 MLK is now a Moorish Science temple.
The nice composition of buildings at 5700+ MLK still look stable.
5736 MLK is a medical cannabis dispensary, or will be once it actually opens — click the image to view their currently bare bones website. The space next door is a meeting/event space. Both very positive in an area short on good news.
Just west of Goodfellow we see one unit worse than the others.
Floors and the roof are gone, accelerating deterioration of the brick walls. 5810 MLK
5861 MLK, built in 1907, is showing some wear. The stone plaque over the center doors says it’s the “Kinsey Building”.
The former JC Penny department store at 5930 is still standing. Would love to see this building renovated and occupied.
The buildings across the street may not survive as long. The gap is where a building was lost in 2020.
The famous Wellston Loop transit building continues being exposed to the elements.
The west side is no better.
The sidewalk between Irving Ave and Kienlen Ave was just replaced. This is in Wellston — St. Louis County, just beyond the St. Louis city limits.

Like previous years a few bright spots, mostly depressing decay.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

A Tour of City Foundry St. Louis, the Food Hall, and Fresh Thyme Market

December 21, 2021 Featured, History/Preservation, Midtown, Planning & Design, Real Estate, Retail Comments Off on A Tour of City Foundry St. Louis, the Food Hall, and Fresh Thyme Market
One of my favorite views is seeing the remains of the elevated railroad line.

Today’s post is a look at City Foundry St. Louis, a new retail & office development in an old foundry along Forest Park Ave., between Spring and Vandeveter.

Almost 100 years ago, the Century Electric company purchased the Midtown St. Louis property now known as City Foundry STL. At the time, Midtown was a manufacturing hub for the city, thanks to its proximity to the Wabash Railroad line, which cuts across the City Foundry STL Property.

Century Electric was one of the top 3 manufacturers in the city, manufacturing motors and generators that were sold internationally. In fact, Century’s motors helped spark the development of small household appliances.

While the foundry changed owners over the years, and the products produced there changed, one thing did not: nearly 24-hour-a-day work continued on the site until 2007.

Today, this 15-acre site is being reimagined as City Foundry STL, with first-to-the-area makers and merchants moving to the complex. We can’t wait to for you to be a part of the next chapter of this storied creative complex. (City Foundry St. Louis)

First, a definition:

A foundry is a factory that produces metal castings. Metals are cast into shapes by melting them into a liquid, pouring the metal into a mold, and removing the mold material after the metal has solidified as it cools. The most common metals processed are aluminum and cast iron. However, other metals, such as bronze, brass, steel, magnesium, and zinc, are also used to produce castings in foundries. In this process, parts of desired shapes and sizes can be formed. (Wikipedia)    [An aside: a segment from a 1997 Simpsons episode comes to mind]

I’ve lived in St. Louis for over 31 years now, but don’t recall the name Century Electric. My memory of the foundry was the smell making automotive brake parts for Federal-Mogul. My post from last month: A Look at City Foundry St. Louis…in August 2013.

The 1909 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps show a few scattered wood frame buildings in this area, not a foundry. City records list four buildings on the site:

  • Manufacturing 1932: 146,015 square feet
  • Warehouse 1937: 66,197sf
  • Warehouse 1953: 38,640sf
  • Manufacturing 1982: 5,760

Let’s take a look, getting into some history along the way.

This 2015 photo looking east shows a new intersection on Vandeveter with a driveway for the then-new IKEA.
Leaving IKEA we see the low building along Vandeventer no longer exists. My assumption is this was the 1982 building.
Looking left we see the intersection of Vandeveter & IKEA Way now includes Foundry Way to the east.
Foundry Way would be named Clark Ave if they continued the name from east of Spring Ave. The open land on either side here is for future phases. Sidewalk only on the south side, for now.
One of my favorite views is seeing the remains of the elevated railroad line.
My 2nd favorite view is toward the left, looking NE. The repetition of old piers the held the railroad tracks is just lovely to my eyes. The bright red wall on the left, not so much.

I wanted to know more about Century Electric so I began scouring the Post-Dispatch archives online via the St. Louis Public Library. Here’s a bit of what I found in a Post-Dispatch article from December 25, 1949, P61:

  • Century Electric organized 1900, incorporated 1901
  • first workshop an old church at 1011 Locust
  • first working motor tested on thanksgiving day 1903 — sold to Rosenthal-Sloan Millinary Co.
  • products shipped to 90 foreign countries
  • first to offer repulsion type motor in small sizes
  • a century motor was in the first successful home refrigerator
  • manufactures everything except the wire
  • foundry address is/was 3711 Market Street — before I-64/Hwy 40 went though.

Let’s resume the tour.

Again, I love the concrete railroad piers. Using them as an element is better & cheaper than removal and dumping in a landfill.
Here it begins to open up. The silver metal building is one of two new buildings designed to hide the new multi-level parking garage that was cut into the land between Forest Park Ave and the historic foundry.  These new buildings are considered “liner buildings”, shallow structures designed to screen and offer a nicer street view. We’ll visit that upper area later.
Now we’re facing east, with the old foundry on the right, new liner buildings hiding the parking on the left.
The food hall is the main public attraction in the old foundry building. More on this food destination below.
Continuing further east, toward Spring Ave. Old foundry still on the right, liner still on the left.
Almost to Spring Ave we get to the 1937 building that houses Fresh Thyme grocery store. You can see the east end of the parking garage.
Looking north/uphill along Spring Ave from near I-64 we can see foundry offices that used to front onto Market Street, the foundry, and the SE corner of the building that’s now Fresh Thyme.

Let’s go out to Forest Park Ave and approach from the west.

This approach is the worst, blank wall, no street trees, gravel instead of landscaping.
Looking back west, toward Vandeventer Ave.
This is the primary pedestrian access from Forest Park Ave., the new garage on the left. Dreary, but at least it’s wide. This brings you in at the upper level, mentioned previously.
Looking west, toward IKEA. Again, the vacant land will be for a future phase.
Looking southeast we get a good look at the old foundry.

One last exterior area to show you, the building on the SW corner of Forest Park & Spring avenues. It began as the new offices of a local grocery chain, so using it for a new grocery store is very fitting. From the Post-Dispatch July 18, 1937:

This 1937 article announces the construction of a new building to be built for the Tom Boy Stores grocery chain. A few years later I saw it written Tom-Boy and then Tomboy before disappearing in the archives.
Looking SW from the opposite corner at Spring & Forest Park avenues. Spring continues down the hill, where we were earlier.
Looking south across Forest Park Ave
In front, the door isn’t the main entry. I love that a building built for the offices of a grocery chain with late 19th century roots is now used as a grocery store.
The main entry is in the west facade, facing the top level of the parking garage. This photo was taken on opening day, 11/10/2021.
Looking back north toward Forest Park we see a protected pedestrian route to the right of the yellow bollards. Unfortunately they’ve been filing it with extra shopping carts lately, defeating the purpose.
Looking back out toward the parking. New hotel with rooftop bar across the street, in the background.

Let’s go inside Fresh Thyme, later we’ll go into the Food Hall.

When you enter the main doors, you head to the left.
They’re known for having nice produce that’s nicely displayed.
I love the old industrial skylight.
Inside looking north toward the meat & deli areas.
In the NE corner is a seating area, I can imagine Saint Louis University students/staff/faculty walking over here, meeting friends.
The compact store is well-stocked, though they don’t yet have sweetened condensed milk.
Even checkout is self serve, though there are a lot of employees to help you. Some are for smaller purchases while others are for larger with more area for scanned items.

Fresh Thyme Market has other locations in the region, on both sides of the river. The grocery chain in based in suburban Chicago (Downers Grove, IL). The large chain Meijer is an investor, their nearest location is Springfield IL. So you’ll see some Meijer products on shelves.

On opening day I planned to get a package of Meijer frozen tuna steaks that I priced on the Fresh Thyme’s website (Kirkwood location). At this new location the very same item was 50% more than in Kirkwood. WTF!?! I ask the manager why the price is so much more. The answer was unexpected. The Fresh Thyme Market at City Foundry STL isn’t part of Fresh Thyme’s system, including pricing. Fresh Thyme investor Meijer is a partner on this location, so the pricing is based on that.  The manager told me they’d match the significantly better price at checkout. To this day if you do a search on the actual Fresh Thyme website for the nearest location it won’t find the City Foundry location. It’s not on the Meijer website either. Very weird.

Other than the frozen tuna steaks the prices I’ve checked have all been reasonable, their milk price is the best I’ve seen anywhere in the region. We’ve been back numerous times, a welcome new addition. Now if they’ll just stop filling the ADSA-compliant accessible route with extra shopping carts.

Moving on, let’s visit the Food Hall.  First, a food hall is not the same as a food court:

Here are 4 things about food halls and what makes people love them:

  • Food halls are usually a collection of small, locally-developed restaurant concepts or outright new creations that come from the minds of local chefs or start-up entrepreneurs and restauranteurs. They offer an assortment of unique food and beverage items that are usually cooked from scratch (prepared from raw ingredients vs. shipped in partially or wholly made) or nearby in a commissary (but still from scratch). On the other hand, food courts are usually filled with national chain restaurants that offer little scratch cooking and little-to-no brand cache.

  • Food courts will typically feature a cast of usual players like one or two Asian concepts (with one or both of them serving a version of Bourbon chicken), an ice cream place, a pizza place, a burger chain or two, a Latin concept, a hot dog concept, a cheesesteak concept, and maybe a cookie place. The dining options in a food hall are more in line with a collection of food trucksat a food truck park than the food found in a food court, with ethnic favorites like Vietnamese bao buns, Cuban street sandwiches, wine and cheese, Italian sandwich or pasta shop, local ice cream or gelato, chocolatiers, or Napolitano style pizza (vs. Sbarro’s par-cook-n-reheat slices), southern fried chicken sandwiches, and just about anything you can imagine.

  • Food halls are aesthetically pleasing, often in turn-of-the-century warehouses, train stations, or old mills with high ceilings where the building’s history is partially or mostly preserved. Ponce City Market was originally a Sears & Roebuck distribution warehouse. Chelsea Market in New York was a Nabisco factory where the Oreo was invented. Quincy Market in Boston is one of the oldest food halls in America (it was a food hall before folks started calling them food halls) and sits next to historic Faneuil Hall…it was designed from the beginning (1824-1826) to be a marketplace. In a food hall, the charm of historic significance combines with the unique food offerings and the novelty of reclaimed industrial space to form a city’s social nucleus, while food courts are really little more than uninspired feeding pit stops for mall shoppers.

  • Food halls are destinations. Retail stores are few and are injected to add interest and shopping-as-entertainment to the food experience, but they must convey a consistent lifestyle “voice” to their visitors. Anthropologie, Lululemon, or Madewell are common national retail supplements. Food courts are designed to keep shoppers shopping so they don’t leave the mall when they get hungry… the food supports the shopping, not the other way around like in a food hall.

Ready?

Entry before you get into the main space.
The main space is in the heart of the old foundry, very industrial.
Tables & chairs are throughout the large space. Vendors have small storefronts.
Most vendors are walk up.
But a few also offer bar seating. This might not be ADA-compliant because a person in a wheelchair couldn’t eat here, will need to see if they have a provision for that.

Concluding thoughts on City Foundry St. Louis

I was very happy & curious when I first heard the developers planned to keep the old industrial buildings rather than scrape the site clean. Overall I’m pleasantly surprised by how they’ve turned an old dirty industrial site into a retail & office destination. If you haven’t been I recommend visiting.

Transit users can take MetroLink to either Grand or Cortex, the nearest bus lines are the 42 & 70.

— Steve Patterson

 

Corrections to the Mill Creek Valley Narrative

November 29, 2021 Featured, History/Preservation, North City Comments Off on Corrections to the Mill Creek Valley Narrative

I feel the need to correct the record regarding Mill Creek Valley, to counter the false information being repeated.

“Horizontal, black and white photograph showing a row of dilapidated residential buildings in the 3200 block of Lawton in Mill Creek Valley. The buildings appear to be empty and awaiting demolition. Low wooden fences enclose the small front yards. There are several inches of snow on the ground.” February 16, 1960. Missouri Historical Society

Though St. Louis was founded in 1764 it wasn’t incorporated until 1823. At that time “the city limits were expanded west to Seventh Street and north and south by approximately 5 blocks each.” (Wikipedia) In 1861 the limits were expanded west to Grand, but streets and development had already gone further west. The land for Forest Park was purchased in 1875 — it was located in St. Louis County, not within the city limits of St. Louis. The current municipal boundaries were set in the 1876 divorce from St. Louis County, they were rural at the time.

There was no singular cohesive Mill Creek Valley neighborhood. The large rectangular area (454 acres) the city demolished for “urban renewal”, bounded by 20th St, creek/railroad, Grand Ave, Olive St., included many communities, businesses, homes, etc. was built over many decades — neighborhoods plural. Our modern perception of neighborhoods having distinct edges didn’t exist then, your neighborhood was where you lived. People who lived between 20th & Jefferson didn’t see their area belonging to the newer area west of Compton. The fact this large area ended up being grouped together and labeled by the city as a redevelopment area doesn’t make it a single neighborhood.

Commonly the word “downtown” refers to a city’s central business district (CBD). The size/location of “downtown St. Louis ” varies depending upon who you ask. To some anything east of I-270 is downtown. When St. Louis Union Station reopened at its new facility on September 1, 1894 it was considered far west of the CBD/downtown. The original station, on the east side of 12th (now Tucker), opened on June 1, 1875.

Thus, the Mill Creek redevelopment area wasn’t the heart of downtown. Not even close. Starting at 20th and going west, it wasn’t the oldest part of the city either. The stately row houses in this area were significantly newer and nicer than the tenements east of 10th Street. It was certain old by the 1940s, just not the oldest. It was also dense and lively, with everything within a short walk. Market Street ran down the center of the rectangular redevelopment area and contained the majority of the commercial activity, but corner shops also existed.

Since the city’s founding African-Americans lived in tight pockets throughout the city and St. Louis County. The black population before the Civil War was a very small percentage.

Not all persons of color in St. Louis were slaves, and in fact, as the 19th century progressed, the number of free blacks continued to rise. This can be explained by looking at several factors. Conditions in St. Louis enabled self-purchase. St. Louis’ proximity to Illinois, a state where slavery was supposed to be illegal, allowed a small number of slaves to sue for their freedom in St. Louis courts based on the premise that they had been held as slaves for a period of time in a free state. A very small number were also set free by masters who had come to see slavery as a moral wrong. Former slaves who wished to remain in the State of Missouri as free blacks were supposed to obtain a license from the state.

In addition to the over 1,000 free blacks in St. Louis who owned small businesses, were laborers or worked odd jobs, a certain elite group of African-American St. Louisans styled “the Colored Aristocracy” were large landowners and businesspersons, many descended from some of St. Louis’ earliest residents. Several owned the large barber emporiums, while others owned drayage businesses which moved goods from steamboat to steamboat on the levee. Still others, like Madame Pelagie Rutgers, owned huge tracts of land which they sold at great profit as the city expanded. The “Colored Aristocracy” of St. Louis had its own social season and debutante balls. A member of this social class, Cyprian Clamorgan, wrote a book in 1858 called the Colored Aristocracy of St. Louis, in which he profiled the group. (National Park Service — highly recommended)

Yes, wealthy blacks in the 19th century. They didn’t live in the area we know today as Mill Creek. They lived in The Ville.

During the 1920s, The Ville was home to an elite community that included black professionals, businessmen, entertainers and Annie Malone, one of the country’s first African-American millionaires. One of St. Louis’ most historically significant neighborhoods, The Ville was home to Sumner High School, the first school west of the Mississippi River to provide secondary education for blacks. Some of the school’s best known alumni are Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Chuck Berry, opera diva Grace Bumbry, and tennis great Arthur Ashe. During the 1920s and ‘30s, the neighborhood thrived, as more and more African-American institutions were established, including Harriet Beecher Stowe College and Homer G. Phillips Hospital.

The Ville served as the cradle of African-American culture and nurtured its rich heritage for the black population of St. Louis. Today, the soaring Ville Monument pays tribute to the neighborhood’s achievements and its famous sons and daughters. (Explore St. Louis)

 

Sumner High School, mentioned above, opened downtown on 11th between Poplar & Spruce in 1875 — the same year as the adjacent first new Union Station mentioned earlier:

Charlton Tandy led protests of the planned siting of Sumner High School in a heavily polluted area in close proximity to a lead works, lumber and tobacco warehouses, and the train station as well as brothels. He said that black students deserved clean and quiet schools the same way white students do. The location went unchanged, and Sumner High opened in 1875, the first high school opened for African Americans west of the Mississippi. The school is named after the well-known abolitionist senator Charles H. Sumner. The high school was established on Eleventh Street in St. Louis between Poplar and Spruce Street, in response to demands to provide educational opportunities, following a requirement that school boards support black education after Republicans passed the “radical” Constitution of 1865 in Missouri that also abolished slavery.

The school was moved in the 1880s because parents complained that their children were walking past the city gallows and morgue on their way to school. The current structure, built in 1908, was designed by architect William B. Ittner. Sumner was the only black public high school in St. Louis City until the opening of Vashon High School in 1927. Famous instructors include Edward Bouchet and Charles H. Turner. Other later black high schools in St. Louis County were Douglass High School (opened in 1925) and Kinloch High School (1936). (Wikipedia)

Sumner High was an 1867 school renamed. Originally it was District School Number Three. Source: 1960 handbook.

Locations:

  • 1867, 5th & Lombard
  • 10th & Chambers
  • 1875, 11th & Spruce — now known as Sumner instead of #3.
  • 1896, 15th & Walnut
  • 1908 construction on the current location in The Ville neighborhood began
  • 1910 classes began, moving from 15th & Walnut.

Wealthy blacks in St. Louis were successful in relocating Sumner t0 their neighborhood, where their homes and businesses were located.

Another well-known institution in The Ville was Homer G. Phillips Hospital.

Between 1910 and 1920, the black population of St. Louis increased by sixty percent, as rural migrants came North in the Great Migration to take industrial jobs, yet the public City Hospital served only whites, and had no facilities for black patients or staff. A group of black community leaders persuaded the city in 1919 to purchase a 177-bed hospital (formerly owned by Barnes Medical College) at Garrison and Lawton avenues to serve African Americans. This hospital, denoted City Hospital #2, was inadequate to the needs of the more than 70,000 black St. Louisans. Local black attorney Homer G. Phillips led a campaign for a civic improvements bond issue that would provide for the construction of a larger hospital for blacks.

When the bond issue was passed in 1923, the city refused to allocate funding for the hospital, instead advocating a segregated addition to the original City Hospital, located in the Peabody-Darst-Webbe neighborhood and distant from the center of black population. Phillips again led the efforts to implement the original plan for a new hospital, successfully debating the St. Louis Board of Aldermen for allocation of funds to this purpose. Site acquisition resulted in the purchase of 6.3 acres in the Ville, the center of the black community of St. Louis. But, before construction could begin, Homer G. Phillips was shot and killed. Although two men were arrested and charged with the crime, they were acquitted; and Phillips’ murder remains unsolved.

Construction on the site began in October 1932, with the city initially using funds from the 1923 bond issue and later from the newly formed Public Works Administration. City architect Albert Osburg was the primary designer of the building, which was completed in phases. The central building was finished between 1933 and 1935, while the two wings were finished between 1936 and 1937. The hospital was dedicated on February 22, 1937, with a parade and speeches by Missouri Governor Lloyd C. Stark, St. Louis Mayor Bernard Francis Dickmann, and Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes. Speaking to the black community of St. Louis, Ickes noted that the hospital would help the community “achieve your rightful place in our economic system.” It was renamed in 1942 from City Hospital #2 to Homer G. Phillips, in his honor. (Wikipedia)

Prior to Homer G. Philips Hospital in the Ville, an existing building was used as City Hospital #2 between 1919-1936. That 19th century building was at Garrison & Lawton. That intersection no longer exists. Lawton was an east-west street between Pine and Laclede, known as Chestnut east of Jefferson. So yes, the first hospital for blacks in St. Louis was within the boundaries of the Mill Creek redevelopment area, for 17 years. Then the significantly larger City Hospital #2 opened in the Ville — where the wealthier black families lived.

February 1909 Sanborn Map showed a stone (blue) church at 3015 Pine, labeled “Berea Presby’n Church (Negro)”. This is one the few buildings to survive the clearance of the Mill Creek redevelopment area.

As stated at the beginning, black residents lived in small pockets throughout the city. Wealth, social class, and geography separated the residents of the Ville from those in the older Mill Creek redevelopment area.

This is not to say every black person living in The Ville was wealthy, that was not the case. As poor blacks moved north to escape the Jim Crow south they likely lived where they could, including in The Ville. I know of one family that lived in The Ville during the 1940 census that had migrated from Alabama. I’d love to see maps showing where black persons lived in the region following the Civil War, showing shifts each decade.  The change from 1950 to 1960 would give us better information on where families displaced by the demolition of Mill Creek relocated.

We know white home owners in the areas immediately outside The Ville had racially restrictive covenants on their properties since the early years of the 20th century. One block, now part of the Greater Ville neighborhood, was still white when the Shelley family had a white person act as the buyer so they could purchase 4600 Labdie in 1945. In 1948 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the court system couldn’t be used to enforce restrictive covenants (Shelley v Kraemer).

This prompted many white homeowners surrounding The Ville to sell and move further away. At the same time people were being forced to leave the  Mill Creek Valley redevelopment area many more options were available on the city’s north side.  Yes, some may have moved into numerous high-rise public housing projects that were open prior to the February 16, 1959 start of demolition in Mill Creek.

  •  Cochran Garden Apts, April 1953
  • Pruitt-Igoe, 1955
  • (In December 1955) a judge ruled St. Louis and the housing authority had to stop segregation in public housing.
  • Vaughn Apts, October 1957

The low-rise Neighborhood Gardens and Carr Square Village opened in May 1935 and August 1942, respectively. Again, segregated until 1956. One of the problems with large-scale demolition is people get scattered in the process.

The demolition was certainly a land grab, no question. Wealthy whites living west in the Central West End, Clayton, Ladue, etc had to drive on Market Street to reach Union Station and the CBD. They didn’t like driving through old dense areas, especially predominantly occupied by African-Americans.

Back east demolition was increasingly happening. Soldiers Memorial opened in 1938, Aloe Plaza opened two years later — both on the north side of Market Street. St. Louis leaders got hooked on demolition so clearing out the west entry to downtown followed. Also in the late 1930s the Oakland Express opened, a highway from Skinker to Vandeventer & Chouteau.

Hopefully the incorrect information will cease.

— Steve Patterson

 

Jewish Hospital Merged With Barnes Hospital in 1996, But An Older Jewish Hospital Building Remains Integral To Current Treatment

October 27, 2021 Central West End, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on Jewish Hospital Merged With Barnes Hospital in 1996, But An Older Jewish Hospital Building Remains Integral To Current Treatment

The Washington University Medical School campus (aka Barnes, BJC) in St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood has changed considerably in the last 100+ years. It’s also quite a bit different from when I moved to St. Louis in 1990. It will continue to evolve. This post isn’t a detailed look at the huge number of incremental changes, it’s a look at a little bit of history about the Jewish in Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

It’s not clear to me which medical facility first located within the area bounded today by Kingshighway on the west, Forest Park Ave. on the north, Sarah on the east, and I-64 (US-40) on the south. I do know the automobile either hadn’t been invented, or was just a toy for the wealthy.  Hopefully someone will do a book on the history of medical facilities in the region.

St. Louis’ first hospital for Jewish residents perhaps began with a meeting 143 years ago today, on October 27, 1878. This was just after the city/county divorce so the city’s current limits were already set. Forest Park was still wild, much of the city’s new limits were rural.

Leaders of the city’s Jewish community met at Harmonic Hall to form the Jewish Infirmary and Hospital Association of St. Louis. As early as 1853 Isidor Bush, businessman and philanthropist, had joined with other Jewish leaders to establish a Jewish hospital. After several false starts, Bernard Singer president of the United Hebrew Relief Association of St. Louis, subscribed $1,620 toward the establishment of a home for old and infirm Jews. The meeting that he called was well attended and an additional $870 was pledged.

More money was slow in coming , however, and finally the association revised its plans to allow for the building of a home for the aged and infirm, with a hospital as an appendage. In 1882 the United Hebrew Association dedicated the Home for the Aged and Infirm Israelites at 3652 S. Jefferson Avenue. Today Jewish Hospital, as part of the Washington University Medical Center, is one of the city’s finest medical institutions. (Source: St. Louis Day by Day by Frances Hurd Stadler, 1990, pp204-05)

The author doesn’t connect the dots between the 1882 dedication and the 1990 second printing of her book. I suspect the hospital appendage never happened, but one finally opened:

In 1902, The Jewish Hospital of St. Louis opened at 5415 Delmar Boulevard. Prior attempts to create such a hospital had cited the need to care for the poor Jewish refugees of St. Louis; however, when the Jewish Hospital become a reality, it did so under the directive to afford care to the sick and disabled of, “any creed or nationality.” By 1905, additions to the original hospital building were already required to accommodate more patients, marking the first in a long line of expansions the Jewish Hospital would undergo over the years.

By 1915, the hospital was treating close to 2,000 patients annually. The following years made it clear that further expansion was needed, and in 1920 the hospital purchased land on Kingshighway Boulevard for the purpose of erecting a larger hospital building. The Delmar location was sold, and, following years of construction and funding campaigns, the hospital at 216 South Kingshighway Boulevard was dedicated in May 1926. By the end of 1927, the new building’s first full year in operation, the hospital had treated 5,146 patients. In 1951, a plan was finalized which provided for the integration of three St. Louis Jewish health agencies into what would become the Jewish Hospital Medical Center. The Jewish Hospital of St. Louis merged its operations with those of the Jewish Sanatorium, the Miriam Rosa Bry Convalescent-Rehabilitation Hospital of St. Louis, and the Jewish Medical Social Service Bureau. To accommodate the operations and patients of these health agencies, the Jewish Hospital was required to expand at its Kingshighway location. A building expansion program which included the addition of two new buildings and a six-story wing created room for the patients of the three other agencies to be moved to the newly named Jewish Hospital Medical Center in 1956.

Over its years of growth, Jewish Hospital and its staff have achieved several medical firsts, including performing the first successful in vitro fertilization in Missouri in 1985 and creating the first major in-patient child psychiatric service in the St. Louis area in 1958. When Washington University Medical School and Associated Hospitals (WUMSAH) was formed in 1962, Jewish Hospital was one of the original participating institutions, and in 1963 Jewish Hospital became a major teaching affiliate of Washington University Medical School.

In November 1992, Barnes and Jewish Hospitals signed an affiliation agreement, agreeing to pool resources wherever possible. This affiliation agreement was completed in March 1993 to create Barnes-Jewish, Incorporated (BJI). In April of 1993, BJI and Christian Health Services announced that they would affiliate to create BJC Health System, an affiliation which was finalized in June 1993. In January of 1996, a merger of Barnes and Jewish Hospital, built on the sharing of resources which began with the completion of the affiliation agreement in 1993, was legally completed, and the two became the present day Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Barnes-Jewish Hospital is consistently ranked among the best hospitals in America by U.S. News and World Report. (Wash U/Becker Archives Database)

Only one Jewish Hospital building remains: the 1970s (60s?) Schoenberg Pavilion.

The former entrance to Scheonberg Pavilion is now closed. Entry is only through The Center for Advanced Medicine or the Parkview Tower.
This photo looking the opposite direction was taken just before the oldest Jewish Hospital building on the corner was razed.
This is a crop of the previous photo, you can see a little of the building that was razed to build the Parkview Tower. I regret not taking any photos of the building old Jewish Hospital building before being demolished.

Schoenberg Pavilion was a building at Jewish Hospital, before the 1996 merger with Barnes Hospital — creating Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Today it looks very different than it did then. You cannot directly enter the building from the outdoors — only through the Center for Advanced Medicine (CAM) on the east or the newish Parkview Tower, on the west.  The north side faces Forest Park Ave. and the south side is green space over an underground parking garage.

The south side of Schoenberg with Parkview Tower on the left.
Also the south side of Schoenberg Pavilion, now with the Center for Advanced Medicine on the right.

Inside the Schoenberg name is preset at the bank of elevators inside the 70s building.

Schoenberg Pavilion elevators, 1st floor.
Directory next to the Schoenberg Pavilion elevators. I’ve been to the Cancer Care Clinic a couple of times — this is a referral only urgent care clinic for cancer patients.
Schoenberg Pavilion elevators, 3rd floor.

Inside the entry at the new Parkview Tower is a big sign with mottos from Barnes Hospital and Jewish Hospital.

Jewish Hospital began a dozen years before Barnes Hospital, likely serving Jewish and n0n-Jewish patients. Though probably not black patients for many years.

And finally, in the main floor hallway connection the Center for Advanced Medicine to the Parkview Tower people from the history of Barnes & Jewish are highlighted in a beautiful display.

Four different members of the Schoenberg family going back multiple generations
Hard to photograph, but Moses Schoenberg and David May owned a dry goods store in Colorado. When they moved to St. Louis they opened up Famous-Barr department store. David was married to Moses’ sister Rosa.
This part lists the many medical-related donations family members have made over the generations.

As I receive treatment at Washington University Medical School/BJC I’m thankful for the generosity of those who helped start and continue such a fine institution.

— Steve Patterson

 

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