Home » History/Preservation » Recent Articles:

Filling In The Gap Between The Campbell House & The Former YMCA

February 5, 2018 Featured, History/Preservation, Planning & Design Comments Off on Filling In The Gap Between The Campbell House & The Former YMCA

In the middle of the 19th century the mansions along Lucas Place, now Locust St, were considered way out on the edge of town.

Fol­low­ing the cholera epi­demic and fire in 1849, wealthy cit­i­zens became con­vinced that it was no longer desir­able to live in down­town St. Louis. James Lucas and his sis­ter Anne Lucas Hunt soon offered a solu­tion. They devel­oped the idea of the “Place,” a neigh­bor­hood with deed restric­tions that ensured it remained apart from the city and gen­eral pop­u­la­tion. The main thor­ough­fare was aptly called Lucas Place. Orig­i­nally Lucas Place (now Locust Street) extended between 13th and 16th streets when the city lim­its were just one block to the west between 17th and 18th streets. When estab­lished, Lucas Place was west of the devel­oped por­tion of the city, mak­ing it St. Louis’ first “sub­ur­ban” neighborhood.  (Campbell House Museum)

This 3-block oasis didn’t last long as St. Louis’ population exploded. The wealthy began to move Westward — this still happens in the region.One by one the grand old mansions became rooming houses and eventually razed for offices/warehouses.

Except one.

Built in 1851, the first house in the ele­gant Lucas Place neigh­bor­hood, the Camp­bell House was the home of renowned fur trader and entre­pre­neur Robert Camp­bell and his fam­ily from 1854 until 1938. The museum con­tains hun­dreds of orig­i­nal Camp­bell pos­ses­sions includ­ing fur­ni­ture, paint­ings, cloth­ing, let­ters, car­riages and a unique set of inte­rior pho­tographs taken in the mid-1880s. (Campbell House Museum)

More about the museum in a bit.

The Campbell House, lower right outlined in blue, was dramatically different by the time this Sanbon Map was made in February 1909. Click image to view source.

At this scale you can’t read that the abutting 24 foot wide lot includes a machine shop and garment factory. The next house West is still a residence but then we have a hotel and finally a printer. Across Locust St in the upper left is the Ely Walker Annex, and three old mansions turned into boarding houses. You’ll note the YMCA, closed in May 2017, hasn’t been built yet.

Last year the Campbell House Museum shared the following image as the YMCA was about to close. From their caption:

The YMCA is the last of the Campbell’s neighbors as Hugh and Hazlett Campbell were still alive for the first years of operation of the Downtown Y.

The photo dates from 1926 as the building nears completion. (Facebook)


This 1936 image shows the storefronts built in from of the mansion next door

After Robert & Virginia Campbell died their 3 sons continued living in the house until their deaths. Their youngest son died first, of the flu at age 30. The two older brothers lived into their 80s:

When Hugh died in 1931, Hazlett was declared of “unsound mind,” throw­ing into ques­tion the fate of the Camp­bell estate. While a lengthy court bat­tle broke out among the Camp­bells var­i­ous rela­tions fol­low­ing Hazlett’s death in 1938, some St. Louisans were more con­cerned about the house and its con­tents. Through their efforts, the Camp­bell House Museum was formed, and soon man­aged to pur­chase most of the Campbell’s orig­i­nal effects. The Museum opened in 1943. (Campbell House Museum)

Yes, the Campbell House Museum is owned & operated by a private group — NOT the City of St. Louis. The museum opened on February 6, 1943 — 75 years ago tomorrow!

The space between the Campbell House Museum and the former YMCA has been surface parking since the 1940s. Despite what you might think, it isn’t one big lot for the Y. The 24′ wide lot next to the CHM is guest parking. They didn’t raze the building that was there — American General Insurance, now Terra Cotta lofts, used it for surface parking.

A sign indicates this narrow lot isn’t Y parking
In this image you can see a little Campbell House on the left, the gap, and the East side of the former YMCA building
A much closer view
The upper floors of the YMCA were apartments, they’ve been vacant for any least a decade. The building is a 2-part condo: YMCA on the lower part, another owner for the upper floors
Ideally the gap would be filled in with something more active than a lifeless parking garage like the one across the street where the Ely Walker Annex once stood

The Campbell House Museum is planning new construction on the back of their narrow lot to construct an accessible entrance. At the front I’d like to see a building come within 5-10 feet of the CHM — with the same setback. In the rest of the gap I’d like to see infill step toward Locust — eventually meeting the sidewalk like the TMCA does. This building could be shallow to conceal a new parking garage at the rear of the lot.

I’d like all 3 automobile driveways in the gap area closed. A new garage can be accessed via the alley. Of course I want to see the former YMCA building renovated and occupied. It may take years, but it’ll happen. When it does I’m not so concerned about it as I am about the gap. It shouldn’t stay as surface parking, nor should it be another bland garage facing Locust. I would like to see the infill represent the best of 21st century design — in between 19th & 20th century buildings.

Again, tomorrow is the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Campbell House Museum. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you make an appointment or visit in March when regular hours resume.

— Steve Patterson



Many Holiday Gifts Came Likely Came From St. Louis’ Jaccard & Co Jewelry

December 25, 2017 Downtown, Featured, History/Preservation, Retail Comments Off on Many Holiday Gifts Came Likely Came From St. Louis’ Jaccard & Co Jewelry

Many of you will likely be giving and/orreceiving gifts today. Some of those gifts may include jewelry.The following post was started about two months ago, it seemed appropriate to finally finish it for today.

Like many, my husband and I are fans of PBS’ Antiques Roadshow program. We watch each new episode and, if nothing else is on, we’ll watch a repeat. Such was the case on Saturday October 14th. That night we watched the 2nd of a 3-part program from Detroit (Season 18 Episode 5). When it started I didn’t anticipate it would take me on a long dive into St. Louis history..but one appraisal did just that.

The appraisal titled 1900 Diamond Brooch with Dranwing was brought in by a man whose grandfather had it custom made in 1900 for his grandmother. His grandparents were living outside of Cincinatti but commissioned a jeweler in St. Louis.  Appraiser Peter J. Shemonsky says “they were a very well-respected and well-know jeweler at the time period.” On the internet I quickly find the segment to watch again so I can catch the jeweler’s name.

Receipt from E. Jaccard Jewelry Co

So I have the name and location (Olive and Sixth), should be easy, right?

My search led me to the FindAGrave.com bio of David Constant Jaccard, which explained many company name changes:

At the age of eleven, David began serving his apprenticeship to the watchmaker’s trade. After his graduation he taught school for a year and then came to the United States to join his relatives Louis and Eugene Jaccard, who were already in business in St. Louis. Louis founded the house under the name of Jaccard & Recordon. Six years later Eugene Jaccard became a partner in the firm, the name of which was changed to Jaccard & Co. In 1844 they sold their establishment, but regained possession of it a year later. Eugene became the sole owner in 1849. In 1853 he admitted to partnership with him A. S. Mermod, and in 1855 D. C. Jaccard, under the firm name of E. Jaccard & Co. The business was continued under this name until 1862. D. C. Jaccard and A. S. Mermod then joined forces and purchased a jewelry establishment under Odd Fellow’s Hall in St. Louis, founding what became one of the most famous jewelry houses in the United States. In 1873 the firm name was changed to Mermod, Jaccard & Co., followed by the name of Mermod & Jaccard Jewelry Company in 1883. The house had its own watch manufactory in Switzerland as well as in Paris and various other cities in Europe.

In 1868 Mr. Jaccard was appointed vice-consul for Switzerland in St. Louis and later acted as consul for that country for two years. During the Civil War, as treasurer of the “Societe du Sou par Semaine,” he distributed over twenty thousand dollars to relieve the wants of those who suffered from the effects of the great struggle then going on, without regard to their sympathies either with the North or the South.

I found a photo of their beautiful building in Washington University’s Eames and Young Architectural Photographs collection.

E. Jaccard Jewelry Company Building – Eames and Young … Washington University in St. Louis E. Jaccard Jewelry Company Building – Eames and Young Architectural Photographs. This building was located on the northeast corner of Broadway and Olive, the future location of the National Bank of Commerce Building, then the Monward Realty Company Building.

But wait, this 1880 photo indicates it’s located on the NE corner  of Broadway & Olive. Broadway is the name used instead of 5th. I hope to learn more about St. Louis’ famous jeweler. Since this post was started we’ve seen another segment with an item from Jaccard — see 1898 Kansas City Fire Chief Presentation Badge.

I’m no stranger to famous local jewelers, everyone who’s lived in Oklahoma City knows BC Clark Jewelers has been around since 1892 — 15 years before statehood. Megan Mullaly even sang their jingle to Jay Leno. I’d still like to know what happened to the Jaccard store.

Have a great day today!

— Steve Patterson


Preservation Board To Consider Demolition Request For Historic Block On South Broadway In Carondelet Neighborhood

October 23, 2017 Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on Preservation Board To Consider Demolition Request For Historic Block On South Broadway In Carondelet Neighborhood

This afternoon the St. Louis Preservation Board will consider a request for demolition. an appeal, because the Cultural Resources director initially denied the request. The request is to raze an entire block of historic buildings on South Broadway. Broadway is one of the few streets in St. Louis that runs from far North to far South, so South Broadway isn’t specific enough. The East side of Busch Stadium is bounded by South Broadway. There’s an interesting stretch of South Broadway East of Soulard, in the Kosciusko neighborhood. The old Lemp Brewery complex is along South Broadway. The block being considered today is quite a bit further South, in the Central Carondelet Historic District. Most buildings in the district are residential, but the nomination mentions commercial as well:

Most of the commercial buildings in the district are located on Broadway, which supported an established business district long before the turn of the century. These buildings are grouped together by both use, stores and offices, and basic architectural form. Nearly all of the Commercial buildings in the district sit on the sidewalk line of their lots and are of one to three stories. Many of the commercial buildings employ similar stylistic characteristics as do residences in the district, such as parapet walls, similar cornice and window treatments and mansard roofs. Still,CommercialBuildings are in their own category,andwhen the building clearly shows the influence of a particular style it is placed in a sub-category of Classical Revival, Italianate, Second EmpireIMansard, or Art Deco.

Watkins family history on this block goes back to 1879!

Last week I shared a NextSTL post about the proposed demolition on this blog’s Facebook page, writing:

Very familiar with this part of South Broadway. It has some great old buildings, but little else. It’s just a pass through. 

Still, these should be kept and someone work turning the area into a place where people want to be.

The 2nd pair of what I wrote, about place was missed by someone, who commented:

 “Little else” besides eight bars (including two of the most vibrant live music venues to open in the City in the past two years), four antique stores, a bank, one of the oldest independent hardware stores in the City, the oldest convenience store in the City, and a gift shop recently named the 11th Ward business of the year. All in less than a one mile stretch on Broadway with this block in the direct center. It sounds like you don’t know too much about this stretch at all, particularly the reinvestment over the past few years.

I attempted to explain I was talking about the public realm, not private businesses by providing this definition and link:

Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community. Strengthening the connection between people and the places they share, Placemaking refers to a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm in order to maximize shared value. More than just promoting better urban design, Placemaking facilitates creative patterns of use, paying particular attention to the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place and support its ongoing evolution. (Project for Public Spaces)

This person instead I didn’t know the area, even though I had an office two blocks South for years. I knew all too well the pervasive thinking and poor quality of the public realm. However, I did learn through Googling they South Broadway Merchants Association changed its name to Carondelet Business Association.

Business districts, shopping centers, malls, etc must market themselves to attract businesses and visitors. The Carondelet Business Association, like the South Broadway Merchants Association fails to understand this reality. Commercial streets like Delmar and South Grand are commonly known as The Delmar Loop and Grand South Grand, respectively. These and other districts do a good job of marketing themselves.

What does the Carondelet Business Association do?  It’s easy to find out about becoming a business member but trying to find a place to eat requires finding a 52-page PDF directory, restaurant listings begin on page 32. The CBA website was created and maintained by the owner who wants to raze an entire block of structures contributions to a historic district.

Like many, I’d driven through lately, but not stopped. So I took the MetroBus down to see what, if anything, had changed about the public realm — not what bars were now open.

I got off at Fillmore St, taking 90 photos as I traveled South 1.3 miles. I got back on the bus at Primm St (map). Here’s a few of the photos I took on the morning of October 18th:

A mural & community garden was new to me.
The used car lots weren’t new
A building in the middle of another block had recently been razed.
The bank building was boarded. This is across Broadway from the proposed demolition
The sidewalks the entire 1.3 mile distance I traveled were in poor condition
A historic structure onion a small park is one of the few bright spots for public space in the area.

I don’t doubt many have worked hard, have good intentions.  This stretch of South Broadway in Carondelet has great bones — unrealized potential. Place-making and business district marketing both take lots of skill to do successfully. Both need to happen or it’ll continue to struggle.

The Preservation Board meeting begins at 4pm, this is the 3rd item on the agenda.


Opinion: A Deity Didn’t Plan St. Louis’ 1927 Tornado — 90 Years Ago

September 27, 2017 Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on Opinion: A Deity Didn’t Plan St. Louis’ 1927 Tornado — 90 Years Ago
Damage caused by 1927 Tornado, Photo:St Louis Public Library . Click image to view slideshow

Ninety years ago this Friday afternoon a tornado hit St. Louis, causing major death & destruction:

The forecast for Thursday, Sept. 29, 1927, was for rain. It was cloudy and 72 degrees at noon. In Central High School, 1,750 students tended to their studies.

The barometer fell steadily at the Weather Bureau office downtown in the Railway Exchange Building, where forecasters went upstairs for a look. To their west was a low, black thunderstorm charging to the northeast. Sudden torrents of rain chased them inside.

They couldn’t see the tornado churning through the heart of the city. In barely five minutes, it killed 78 people and seriously injured an additional 550 along a seven-mile path. (Post-Dispatch)

Here’s a brief video on this disaster:

St. Louis has experienced numerous destructive tornados, we may get a big earthquake at some point. Most of us accept these as natural ossuaries. However, some like former actor Kirk Cameron and televangelist Joel Osteen, think sisters are the result of their deity’s plan!  Either punishment or a test, respectively.

The result of the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll.

Q: Agree or disagree: Disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, etc) are part of God’s plan.

  • Strongly agree 3 [8.82%]
  • Agree 1 [2.94%]
  • Somewhat agree 0 [0%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 3 [8.82%]
  • Somewhat disagree 2 [5.88%]
  • Disagree 1 [2.94%]
  • Strongly disagree 22 [64.71%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [5.88%]

Thankfully most who responded don’t think a deity plans the killing of people in disasters, though those in the middle or who think sisters are part of a plan probably don;t think man has caused climate change — the reason recent hurricanes were worse than they would’ve been otherwise.

— Steve Patterson


One Building On Locust Being Renovated While Another Awaits Demolition

September 1, 2017 Downtown, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on One Building On Locust Being Renovated While Another Awaits Demolition

Over 4 years ago the then-owner of a couple of buildings at 10th & Locust wanted to raze them for a hotel driveway for the 3rd building, the tallest. Many objected, the city’s Preservation Board repeatedly said no to demolition.

In June 2013 the first two buildings were threatened with demolition.

I’ve not followed the current project, but work is underway at at least two of the three.City records show a demolition permit was issued on 8/17/2017 for the 3-story on the NE corner of 10th & Locust (923 Locust St.), with the later Tudor-revival facade. The exterior isn’t original to the building, but it’s important to have massing on this corner.

For a while now all 3 have been behind a construction fence.
Workers can be seen weekdays

Hopefully a new building will be built on the corner, ideally taller — at least as tall as the adjacent building being rehabbed.

— Steve Patterson