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Four Historic Properties in Columbus Square Neighborhood

April 8, 2019 Featured, History/Preservation, Neighborhoods Comments Off on Four Historic Properties in Columbus Square Neighborhood

As previously posted, we moved to the Columbus Square neighborhood at the end of December. Since I’ve been looking into the history of the neighborhood, a challenge since much of the pre-WWII structures have been razed and replaced.

Today’s post is an introduction to the four properties within the neighborhood boundaries that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These are listed below in the order they were added to the register, the date is shown at the end. The text for each is from their nomination to the register, click heading for each to view PDF (files are very large).

St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, 1220 N 11th St. (5/19/78)

St. Joseph’s last month, the antique car was out front due to a wedding taking place inside

The Shrine of St. Joseph is important to St. Louis as a building of great aesthetic value and as a monument to the Jesuits and their powerful role in the history of the Archdiocese· and the City of St. Louis.

Of the churches built in Baroque revival style, St. Joseph’s is one of two remaining in St. Louis. Neo-Baroque, popular with the Jesuits throughout the nation during the nineteenth century, had origins in the Tridentine Catholicism of the Counter Reformation.

In the 16th and 17th centuries the Church introduced a series of reforms that stressed the parish, regular Sunday attendance at Mass, an increased number of devotional activities, the creation of lay confraternities, and so on. Revived in the mid-1800’s this style of worship sunk deep roots in the urban neighborhoods of German and Irish Immigrants. It was the religion of three generations of American Catholics.

The parish of St. Joseph’s, established in 1845 for the German-speaking Catholics of the near north side, grew out of a small immigrant community who settled near St. Louis University and worshipped at St. Aloysius Chapel, the College Hall of the Jesuit University. These newcomers were among the first arrivals of massive waves of European immigrants who would transform a steamboat town of around 16,000 in 1840 into a cosmopolitan commercial center with a population of 160,000 by the outbreak of the Civil War.

The cornerstone of the Roman Catholic Church of St. Joseph’s was set by Bishop Kenrick of St. Louis on April 14, 1844 on land donated by Anne Mullanphy Biddle, daughter of John Mullanphy and widow of Major Thomas Biddle. “…a great concourse of people, including the Hibernians, came for the cornerstone laying…” The church was completed by a volunteer labor force made up of parishioners. On the fourth of August of 1846, Father James van de Velde, S.J., later Bishop of Chicago, dedicated the building.

Immediately, the parish became the center of the community. Schools and an orphanage were established for the young and the Jesuits turned their attention to intense missionary work. In 1846 the Bureau for German Immigration was organized by Father Hafbauer, S.J. in order to attract immigrating Germans to Missouri’s Jesuit settlements. Father Seisel, S.J. served as editor of ”Herald des Glaubens”, St. Louis’ first German Catholic paper. Three parishioners organized the parent organization of the nationally important German Roman Catholic Central Society (Katholische Central Verein) in 18540 Another school, the first St. Louis installation of the Sisters of Notre Dame, was sponsored that same year.

Neighborhood Gardens Apartments, 1205 N 7th St. (all of CB 558) (1/31/86)

The south side of Neighborhood Gardens earlier this month

The Neighborhood Gardens Apartments located on City Block 558 (bounded by O’Fallon, North 7th, Biddle and North 8th Streets) near downtown St. Louis qualifies for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under Criteria A and C and is eligible under the following areas of significance: ARCHITECTURE: Completed in 1935 from plans drawn by the St. Louis firm of Hoener, Baum & Froese, Neighborhood Gardens is an excellent example of Modernistic domestic architecture. Although knowledgeable in the latest developments of International Style European housing projects, the designers and client chose materials associated with the fine local brick vernacular traditions. It is the imaginative handling of this brickwork combined with a thoughtful site plan and skillful layout of the apartments which give the project a durable distinction even more evident today than when it was constructed. COMMUNITY PLANNING: Neighborhood Gardens is a testimony to the dedica tion of a Settlement House’s efforts to demonstrate that low-rent housing could be well- designed and financially sound. The Association’s commitment to excellence is reflected in the Board’s support for a study of exemplars in Europe as well as financial contributions to assure that the project would be built. Dedicated to the premise that physical environment influences behavior, the Association was a pioneer in the attempts to rebuild American inner cities.

Sligo Iron Store Co. Buildings, 1301 N. Sixth St. (4/21/10)

Lately known as McGuire Moving & Storage

The  Sligo Iron Store Co. complex is located just north of downtown St. Louis, Missouri on a triangular shaped parcel of land bordered on the south by O’Fallon Street, on the west by N. 7th Street, and on the north and east by Interstate 70 (formerly N 6th Street). Constructed primarily between 1902 to c. 1940, the Sligo Iron Store Co. complex is comprised of five buildings, four of which are contributing. The contributing buildings include all buildings historically associated with Sligo: five-story Main Office and Warehouse (1906), two-story Garage (1903 with 1923 alterations) and its one-story addition (c. 1940), two-story Machine Shop (1902 with c. 1917 alterations), and the five-story 7th Street Warehouse (1911). While constructed over a 40-year period, the contributing buildings share a common vocabulary of building materials and represent the prototypical construction techniques common in the early 20′ century. In 1959, a 2-story functionally unrelated Sporting Goods Factory was constructed to the north and that building was subsequently incorporated into the Sligo parcel. The Sporting Goods Factory is non-contributing due to its date and its construction for a functionally unrelated use.

Cass Bank and Trust Co., 1450 N. 13th St. (2/14/11)

July 2012

Constructed in 1927, the Cass Bank and Trust Building at 1450 N. 13th Street, St. Louis (Independent City), is a two-story Neo-Classical Revival style building sheathed in smooth limestone with a granite veneer base. On the primary (west) façade, monumentality is clearly emphasized by a dominating colonnade of eight squared Tuscan columns supporting a minimally embellished entablature. Recessed between the columns are large metal nine-light windows. Centered in the colonnade is a slightly projecting entrance topped by a cornice and elaborate crown featuring stylized stone eagles. The entablature consists of a plain architrave, frieze with bas relief medallions and a cornice lined with cylindrical guttae. The colonnade is flanked by two slightly projecting end blocks with tripartite division. The base contains three centrally grouped metal windows with a large twelve-light metal window in the shaft. The entablature is similar to that in the colonnade but with a more decorative frieze. In 1964, the bank constructed a raised concrete and brick addition for offices and drive-thru lanes. The upper two stories have inset bands of tall, narrow windows set in limestone surrounds. Though the addition is a modern design, the building’s two primary decorative elevations and the interior banking hall with its elaborately chamfered ceiling, classical plaster relief work and its colossal Corinthian columns are essentially unaltered since its date of construction.

Future posts will expand on each of these four.

— Steve Patterson

 

Worst Property in Columbus Square: 1127 North 9th Street

February 18, 2019 Featured, Neighborhoods, North City Comments Off on Worst Property in Columbus Square: 1127 North 9th Street

I’ve lived in the Columbus Square neighborhood for nearly two months now, one property stands out at the worst. To the casual observer passing by on I-44, you might think it’s the vacant warehouses/lots on the neighborhood’s eastern edge owned by Paul McKee’s Northside Regeneration.

The Vess bottle in 2012, before being repainted. The McKee-owned warehouse in the background has since had a fire.

Nope, the worst property in Columbus Square is right in the center, next to a public school.  Surrounded by nice residential properties.

City records list this property as 1127R North 9th
A cropped version showing the poor condition on the South
The Northern portion is a different brick color, presumably built later (between 1958-68 based on review of historicaerials.com). Patrick Henry Elementary school can be seen on the right.

I wanted to lookup the owner and contact them, but it wasn’t that simple. The address listed in the caption above — 1127R. The ‘R’ means rear. The city website shows a 10′ deep x 235′ wide parcel in front of this. The front parcel is owned by the LCRA — the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority.

The property at the rear, which contains the building, is owned by a corporation called Ribbon Cutter, Inc. Their address is listed as 217 E Greystone Ave Monrovia, CA 91016, a gorgeous single-family home that just sold for $1.85m. I’m sure the new owners will be surprised when they get an unpaid tax bill for 1127R North 9th Street St. Louis MO in the mail.

Searching the Missouri Secretary of State for ‘Ribbon Cutter’ we get three listings:

All three have one thing in common, the name Michael Thomas.

Filings for the corporation list two different addresses, across the street from each other:

Neither S. Broadway address appears to have any connection to Michael Thomas.  However, the former is owned by an LLC not listed by Missouri, the latter is owned by an LLC in California.

The two limited liability companies have another address: 30 Santa Clara #D Arcadia CA 91006, Google Maps says this is the address for American Healthguard Corporation, a dental insurance business.

So I’m putting this post out today hoping someone knows why A) the city owns a 10′ deep strip of land in front of this derelict building, and B) the whereabouts of this particular Michael Thomas. I’m also curious about the building’s history, the address is also listed as 1111 N. 9th St.

— Steve Patterson

 

Village of North St. Louis Founded 200 Years Ago Today

October 1909 Sanborn map shows 2 of 3 circles, click image to view full page
October 1909 Sanborn map shows 2 of 3 circles, click image to view full page

Twenty-Five years ago I’d just moved to the Murphy-Blair neighborhood, now known as Old North St. Louis. The tiny 3-room flat was significantly cheaper than the tiny efficiency I had on Lindell in the Central West End.

Prior to my arrival, neighbors had already been trying to get the neighborhood’s name officially changed. They thought playing off the history was better than being named after a public housing complex.

That history is the area was founded as a separate village — North St. Louis — on June 29, 1816. St. Louis was founded 50+ years earlier, in February 1764.

June 29, 1816:

A town was incorporated which rivaled its southern neighbor, St. Louis, for many years. The new town, founded by Maj. William Christy, was named simply “North St. Louis.” Its southern boundary line was Madison Street, then a considerable distance from the northern boundary of the city which Christy and his associates referred to as “St. Louis under the hill.”

Christy had come to St. Louis from Pennsylvania with advanced ideas about city planning. With two partners, he proposed a scheme for developing a city which would appeal to the settlers flocking in from the East. Street names reflected the founders’ interest in politics — Madison and Monroe; Benton for the young lawyer who would become one of Missouri’s first senators; and Warren, for a hero at Bunker Hill.  A boatyard was established, and inducements offered steamboats to land at North St. Louis instead of farther downstream. A ferry made regular runs between North St. Louis and Alton.  In 1841, just a quarter century after its founding, the city was absorbed into St. Louis. (Source: St. Louis Day by Day by Frances Hurd Stadler, page 122) 

bHere’s another quote, this from the City of St. Louis:

The first attempt to develop this area was made in 1816, when the Village of North St. Louis was incorporated by William Chambers, William C. Christy and Thomas Wright. It was bounded by the present Monroe, Hadley, Montgomery Streets and the Mississippi River. It continued as a village until 1841 when it was absorbed into the City of St. Louis.

A unique feature of the village layout was the provision for three circular public use areas. These were Clinton Place as a school site, Jackson Place for recreational and assembly purposes and Marion Place for a church and cemetery. A public wharf at the foot of North Market Street was called Exchange Square.

The Village was to provide sites for mills similar to those in the New England hometowns of the village’s first settlers.

The village was about a mile upstream above Roy’s Wind Mill, which marked the northern limit of the town of St. Louis at the foot of Ashley Street, and on the Great Trail which later became North Broadway. Other prominent roads of the north side were Natural Bridge Road, which was laid out in the 1840’s as a northwestward extension of Mound Street, and Florissant Road which was a northward continuation of 16th Street in a western addition to the village. 

Today, North St. Louis generally refers to everything North of Delmar — the Delmar Divide. North St. Louis has more poverty, crime, abandoned buildings, & vacant land than the rest of St. Louis. Will this always be the case, or will it change over time?

Readers who voted in the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll were optimistic:

Q: In 25 years, will North St. Louis be better or worse than today?

  • Substantially better 13 [24.07%]
  • Better 13 [24.07%]
  • Slightly better 14 [25.93%]
  • About the same 6 [11.11%]
  • Slightly worse 2 [3.7%]
  • Worse 4 [7.41%]
  • Substantially worse 2 [3.7%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

Nearly three-quarters feel North St. Louis will be better within a quarter century. I wish I could share their optimism, but the last 26 years have used up all the enthusiasm I had for the future of St. Louis. I do have fond memories of my 3+ years living in Murphy-Blair/Old North St. Louis.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Was Opening A New Baseball Stadium Downtown in 1966 A Mistake?

Please vote below
Please vote below

Fifty years ago today  the final baseball game was played at Sportsman’s Park, aka Busch I, a site where where baseball had been played since 1867. On May 12, 1966 Busch Memorial Stadium, aka Busch II, opened. St. Louis’ Chinatown, called Hop Alley, was razed to make room for Busch II:

The earliest Chinese settlers congregated in an area stretching East and West between Seventh and Eighth Streets, and North and South between Market and Walnut Streets, which became the Chinatown of St. Louis, more commonly known as Hop Alley. Hop Alley was the name of a small alley running between Walnut and Market Streets where most boarding houses and apartment buildings were occupied by Chinese residents. It is not known how this neighborhood came to be called Hop Alley, but the name was widely used in contemporary newspapers and other accounts to represent the Chinese business district in St. Louis downtown where Chinese hand laundries, merchandise stores, grocery stores, herb shops, restaurants, and clan association headquarters were located. (Journal of Urban History January 2002)

One neighborhood was razed, another lost a major employer. Was it worth it?

This non-scientrific poll is open until 8pm tonight. Thursday I’ll post the results and share my views on the topic.

— Steve Patterson

 

Downtown & Downtown West Neighborhoods Should Be Merged Into One

Technically Downtown, a city neighborhood, is only East of Tucker Blvd (12th). So much of what we think of as downtown is considered Downtown West.

Map of Downtown West Neighborhood bounded by Chouteau, Jefferson, Cole, & Tucker; click image to view on city website
Map of Downtown West Neighborhood bounded by Chouteau, Jefferson, Cole, & Tucker; click image to view on city website

All of the following are located not in Downtown, but in Downtown West:

  • Police Headquarters (old & new)
  • City Hall
  • Peabody Opera House
  • Scottrade Center
  • Main U.S. Post Office
  • Soliders Memorial (WWI)
  • Central Library
  • City Museum
  • Campbell House
  • Downtown YMCA
  • Union Station
  • Schlafly’s Tap Room
  • Civic Center MetroLink/MetroBus
  • Transportation Center (Amtrak, Greyhound, Megabus)

But I don’t want news reporters outside police HQ to say “Reporting from Downtown West”, I think we should combine the two.

From a 1989 Post-Dispatch article:

SECTIONS OF St. Louis have an identity crisis, says Mayor Vincent C. SchoemehlJr. ”There’s this impression that north St. Louis is some monolithic area that’s unfit to live in,” Schoemehl said. ”Frankly, there’re some very good neighborhoods in north St. Louis, as good as any around. But when you hear about a murder or a rape or some other crime occurring in north St. Louis, all the neighborhoods in north St. Louis become tarred with the same brush.” The identity crisis has sparked a campaign, beginning this week, that stresses neighborhoods – 74 to be exact. No longer will there just be the North Side, the South Side, the Central West End or downtown. ”This is one of our attempts to market the neighborhoods of the city,” said Clara Kinner, director of communications for the city’s Economic Development Corp. ”People should understand that there are several different neighborhoods with several different personalities and attributes,” she said. Many, but not all, of the new neighborhood boundaries will coincide with the boundaries set by existing neighborhood associations, Kinner said. (P4, October 15, 1989)

So when the city first created the neighborhood map it had 74 neighborhoods, but currently it is 79:

There are 79 different neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive style and characteristics. Many of these neighborhoods have very active community organizations and associations. Some are on the rebound, while others have remained stable for decades, and still others are striving for renewal. A variety of sources for information about neighborhoods exist, both on and off this website. None of these sources include everything there is to know about a neighborhood, but by putting together information from each of these sources, one may get a sense of the incredible variety of lifestyles available in the diverse neighborhoods of the City of St. Louis. (St. Louis Neighborhoods)

Now you might be wondering if the Downtown West neighborhood association would object to being consolidated with Downtown’s NA. Well, there has never been a separate Downtown West neighborhood association. The Downtown Neighborhood Association boundaries had included all of Downtown and about half of Downtown West, but last month their bylaws were amended to expand their boundaries to match both.

The Downtown Community Improvement District boundaries also includes much of Downtown West. Just because people in 1989 wanted to better identify where murders happened doesn’t mean we can’t alter the map 26 years later. It’s time to reduce the 79 neighborhoods to 78!

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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