Carr Square which was largely cleared for such projects as Pruitt-Igoe and the current 1980's looking apartment complexes. Cass Avenue serves as the dividing line for the old street grid vs. the recent-past failed attempts at urban renewal in this part of town. Just take a look at how damaging the projects were to St. Louis' early street/neighborhood design. It's good to see St. Louis Place holding on to it's 19th Century grid.
St. Louis Place, not unlike virtually all north city neighborhoods (Baden is an exception) took a beating from 1990 to 2000, losing 27% of its residents. They are down to 2,763 people, 88% black, 10% white and 1% Hispanic/Latino. There were 1,395 housing units counted, 67% of which were occupied. The owner/renter split is 40%/60%.
Here's a statement from the scant St. Louis Place website:
This neighborhood is primarily a diverse working-class community that has been the first home for many St. Louis families. We welcome first time residents as well as people returning to their roots.The description of diversity is not one that strikes me both after reading the stats and seeing the neighborhood. If there are 276 white people living here today (the stats are 10 years old) I'd be surprised.
This neighborhood has seen better days, no doubt. There are the problems that plague many city neighborhoods and especially north side neighborhoods. Unused urban prairies, crumbling housing stock, abominations/failed attempts from the 1970's-1980's and contemporary construction both decent and not so much. I'll show examples of both. There is no walkable business/retail within the neighborhood that serves the area to provide the essentials of decent food (fast food joints appear to be the only option), clothing, or anything the normal household would need to exist.
This was once an amazing neighborhood settled mainly by German immigrants. There are 3 approaches in St. Louis Place that are among the most stunning in all of the city. The first is on N. Market heading east from 19th street toward Hogan Street. This is the site of a former Catholic church (St. Liborius) at an intersection that is arguably one of the most beautiful settings in the city. My pictures sadly don't do this approach justice, and I'll have to go back to properly document this intersection when the sun is setting to the west. Some background on the church:
A church was built at Hogan and North Market Streets in 1857 and schools were erected in 1859 and 1865. The present church as completed in 1889 and featured a 265 foot stone lace-work steeple similar to that of Freiburg Cathedral in Germany. This was removed in 1966. The present school was built in 1886 and the rectory in 1890. The church is notable for its imported altar and stained glass windows. Source
the Griot Museum of Black History. It's housed in a beautifully restored building right along St. Louis Avenue:
1948: Falstaff purchases the Colombia Brewery, which becomes plant 5, in St. Louis and becomes listed on the New York Stock Exchange. This company had been opened in 1892 at the corners of 20th and Madison Streets in St Louis. In 1906 it had merged with the Independent Breweries Company, which also had been part of the Griesedieck's first brewing enterprise. It was the showcase brewery for Falstaff, and tours were held at this plant, not plants one or two. The Colombia brewery in East St Louis (which brewed Lemp Beer in 1939), which produces Falstaff for a short period of time, is closed. The buildings are sold for a mere $35,000. The East St Louis site was torn down to make way for a Sears store, which later becomes the offices of the public schools. Falstaff also move their headquarters to the Continental Bank Building in St Louis. SourceThis former brewery was converted to apartments starting in 1987. The areas surrounding the brewery are among the nicest spots in the neighborhood.
Many of the dwellings in and around the former brewery are contemporary, but don't stand out like a sore thumb. In fact, they fit in quite well, and seem to bring the highest level of density to the area. There were people on the streets walking dogs, kids playing, etc. Something not evident in other parts of St. Louis Place.
As you can see this is not a neighborhood without hope. There is huge potential to regain the original feel of the neighborhood, especially around the brewery and around the 3 grand churches that still exist. I was surprised that St. Louis Avenue isn't heralded more, as in my opinion, it is among the most stunning architectural examples of St. Louis brick we have to offer. This part of town, must be saved and restored. I have hope that the amazing successes and positivity being seen in Old North St. Louis just to the east will continue to St. Louis Place.
Here's one of three churches that are prominent works of art:
NorthSide project which spans St. Louis Place. But it appears that he's not well received by the "legacy" and "thanks McKee" spray painted messages throughout the neighborhood that the natives are not hopeful and resistant to new ideas, investment and money (although I'd bet dimes to dollars that the anti-McKee commentary came from people who don't live in SLP).
Here's a McKee property with such commentary:
brick rustlers and other ass holes that choose to destroy/dismantle these properties for a meager profit instead of getting a job like the rest of us.
However, one of the things I've always thought curious is that because McKee is a white suburban businessman who doesn't live in St. Louis, he is viewed with full-on skepticism and suspicion by people who live in his proposed development area and the city in general. Maybe rightfully so, we'll see.
Whereas, the new developments that were openly ushered in by the current regime of neighborhood groups, aldermen and churches in recent years are decidedly suburban and awkward in nature. I hope McKee would be able to leave behind a more sustainable legacy than these:
There are other stretches of buildings that have either re-realized their potential through tasteful rehabs or are sitting in wait for some new uses to contribute to a cohesive, important place:
Luckily, there are other historical points of interest in St. Louis Place such as the Clemens Mansion (uncle of Mark Twain) which is slated for a $13M renovation by a team including Paul McKee. There is an excellent summary of the property and some great photos by Built St. Louis here.
Here's the view from Cass Avenue today:
Most of the schools that once served the area have been closed:
There is a drastically underused park (St. Louis Place Park) at it's center that is lined with new homes to the east and old homes to the west. If anyone can tell me what this structure used to be, I'd be appreciative:
This could and should be the central gathering place for the neighborhood. It isn't today; and the streets are intentionally closed to prevent traffic in this area.
Enough of the negative side, the fact is, this neighborhood needs to be embraced. It should be on the endangered list and saved. Another example of a building that is on the dividing line between Carr Square's contemporary apartments and the older structures in St. Louis Place. One such example is the Cass Avenue Bank:
There is an excellent summary of the property as well as some great photos on the Built St. Louis website:
According to the original bank's web site, the building went up in 1915, as the second home for the Cass Avenue Bank, later the Cass Bank & Trust Company. The bank moved out in 1927, and leased the building to the Post Office afterward.There is a lot to like here if you are fan of rust belt cities, here are some sights that caught my eye today.
This Budweiser painted ad has held up well over the years.
I believe this "Where's there's life...there's Bud" ad campaign was from around 1960. As per this story from that same year: