Academy is a north St. Louis neighborhood bound by Martin Luther King Drive to the north, Delmar Boulevard to the south, Union Boulevard to the west and Kingshighway Boulevard to the east:
Academy doesn't have a website on the city page, nor is there any easily accessible historical info that I could find on the web.
So what is Academy like? In my 2 hour tour, I'll say that this is one of the most in-tact neighborhoods in north city. By intact, I mean, most of the original housing stock is standing, and largely livable. This is not to say there aren't falling structures, fallow lots or seriously decaying properties, but the contemporary suburbanite builders have not yet tarnished or cheapened the landscape (with the exception of the fast food/junk food restaurants on Kingshighway.
Make no mistake, this is a beautiful place. One that is sitting in wait for someone to take this part of the city on. This is a rehabbers paradise. I think this is one of the prettiest neighborhoods in the city; the homes remind me of Tower Grove South. For the most part, Academy just needs some polish and investment.
Some of the streets like Cabanne and Raymond Avenue are showplaces. If I were wealthy, I'd buy up all the properties and rehab them. This could be one of the premier neighborhoods in St. Louis with a little TLC and $$$. Not unlike Visitation Park to the west, there are very well cared for homes mixed with homes currently under rehab and those that are falling into disrepair, or falling to the ground.
Page Avenue could be my favorite east-west street in St. Louis. It too sitting in wait for a rebirth of TLC and investment.
Academy is remarkably consistent in the size of the homes. They are almost all 2 or 3 story, tightly constructed homes not unlike Shaw or Tower Grove South. But Shaw has more apartments, Academy is largely single family homes or duplexes. The old brick four square homes are everywhere. One thing that stood out to me was the high number of stone-fronted four squares. Here are just a few (there are many, many more) in various states of repair:
3 schools designed by renowned architect William B. Ittner. Soldan was erected in 1907 for less than $800,000.
I couldn't get any good photos of these because (ironically enough) there were professional camera/film crews photographing them.
Vespa St. Louis, a righteous scooter dealer. Here are some sights along Delmar:
Benton Park, Lafayette Square and Old North St. Louis. It would need a kick start or the backing of the politicians and entreched city establishment to pull it off though. You have no idea what an underutilized, or even lost, resource places like Academy are for our city, state and nation. Anyhow, I think the "north of Delmar" stigma is holding Academy back. It shouldn't; but the current fact remains, Delmar is the damn dividing line in this town.
Case in point: driving northbound on Kingshighway from south city, you pass through the Central West End which has some of the finest buildings in town. The wealth and vibrancy is clearly apparent. Then you hit Delmar and it's like the lights were switched to off. There is a shuttered National or Schnucks in Fountain Park at the NE corner, a shuttered video store on the SE corner of the CWE and then as you drive north of Delmar and look to your left there is nothing but fast food joints, most closed down, some still open.
Another of the more unique sites in Academy is the former business of Mr. Lee Nixon, otherwise known as "the Rose Man". The Rose Man used to sell roses and teddy bears at night clubs all over St. Louis. He was admired by people all over the city for his amiability, kindness and generosity. Sadly, he was shot and killed in a random act of gun violence at a Washington Park, Illinois night club in June, 2008. Here's a nice write up from the St. Louis American. And here's what Mr. Nixon's place looks like today: