House Tour

5 06 2012

I’m taking a break from hard news and snark today.

One of the things non-St. Louisans have consistently said about St. Louis is that some of our residential and quasi-public architecture is eye candy.

I dug out some pics my mother took last year in one of her exercise walks around the old neighborhood.  I imagine these are all Soulard and Benton Park.  Some of the photos here are downsized for the blog post, but you can click on each pic for the full size.

I have a lot of pics, so I’m dividing the post.

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This used to be a public elementary school.  The name of the school and the year the building opened are in plain sight.  These are now seasoned citizen apartments.  I think the address is 27xx or 28xx Wisconsin Avenue.

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These two are the same recently renovated house.  I know it’s on Victor Avenue, on a street corner.  But I can’t discern the other street.  Whoever renovated it forgot to do something about the double doors leading to the upper porch.  I would be leery about buying a house on a corner — Those get an intimate meeting from a speeding car from time to time.

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No idea where this is, but I do know that there is no back alley behind this street.  How can I tell?  The trash cans on the street — The city only provides those if you have no back alley ergo no back alley dumpsters.  Notice the second floor bay window, and the dual lion statues near the front door.

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The accents scream Soulard, and there’s another clue:  Look at how hilly the street is, uphill from left to right.  This has to be on an east-west street in Soulard, they all have a big climb from 7th Street to I-55, coming up from the riverfront.  Before St. Louis, those hills were actually terrain bluffs, and they were leveled out as St. Louis grew.  I can’t make out the house number, which is on that top concrete sheet above the bricks which support the side-facing stairs leading to the front door.

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I would love to have this house.  It’s high up on an escarpment, which means there are at least three sets of stairs to climb before you get to the front door.  A bitch during the icy winter, but a savior if certain local natives go wild.  Very defensible, if you know what I mean.  I dare you to burglar this house.  Actually, I don’t dare you, the house does.

The second floor porch is typical Soulard, but I don’t know where in Soulard one would find this much woods next to a house.

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This is probably Benton Park, because of the relative lack of ornate accents.  The gates around the upstairs porch would look more “Frenchy” if this was Soulard.

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Again, Soulard, for the hilly street.  The hilly street has to be an east-west street, downhill is east toward the river, while the other street, with a “Street Not Thru” sign, dead ends for some reason.  This is the best “Halloweeny” looking house you’ll see in this virtual tour.

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This is a smaller “Halloweeny” house probably in Benton Park, for the house on the left is very deja le meme chose for BP.  This sits back pretty far for a “Halloweeny” house.

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Soulard, for the fascia accents.  If this is where I think it is, then the front doors are even more exquisite than the picture suggests.

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Soulard.  The fancy brick work around the semicircle doorways and windows is the clue.  But for that, I would say Benton Park, so it’s probably along the west edge of Soulard.

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A typical Benton Park neighborhood street.

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Same house.  The stained glass in the front door and the main living room window facing the front is unusual in either Soulard or Benton Park.  “No Access to I-55″ means that it’s very close to I-55, meaning it’s on the eastern edge of Benton Park or the western edge of Soulard.  The house number is 2423, so it means the front faces a north-south street.  24xx on an east-west street would put this west of Jefferson, and there’s no way in hell this is west of Jefferson, not only because it’s so close to I-55, but because it’s so well maintained.  West of Jefferson in that general area is heavily black.

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The top is the house, the bottom is its two-story garage.  There are a fair number of matching brick two-story garages in the older sections of St. Louis City.  Nowadays, the upstairs areas of these kinds of garages are used for ham radio shacks or man caves.

Very likely Benton Park.

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These were taken on the corner of Crittenden and 18th Street.  Actually, there’s no corner — 18th curves from south to west and becomes Crittenden, and vice-versa.  When the local media do a story about A-B, they’ll perch themselves in this spot, because it’s a straight on-view to A-B’s marquee building.  When InBev bought out A-B in 2008, the national media perched themselves in this same spot.

But we’re not looking in A-B’s direction.  The church in the foreground is St. Agatha.  It’s significant to me because it was my Pre-K day care way back when.  Now, the actual church is newsworthy because of the whole St. Stanislaus controversy.  I might be wrong, but I think John Paul II personally moved St. Louis’s Polish Catholic parish out of St. Stan (which is right where the Pruitt-Igoes once stood) to here at St. Agatha.  But even if it wasn’t JPII personally, that change was made.  The building in the center-left of the bottom picture in the background with the mural is the Lemp Mansion.  If you watch any of those ghost hunter haunted house shows on cable, you’ve heard of the Lemp Mansion.  The Lemp Mansion supplemented the Lemp Brewery, and it and A-B being in the same place isn’t a coincidence.  The nearby limestone caves was an ideal early storage place for beer.

“ISCO” on the smokestack is “International Shoe Company,” long abandoned.  I haven’t been able to find any corroboration of this, but I have heard that in the late 1970s, someone scaled it and spray-painted a “D” above the “I.”

The highway is I-55 looking southward.  Arsenal Street is the foreground overpass, Utah Street is the background overpass.

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This is Lemp Avenue near Arsenal Street.  Notice the fence on top the building.  A middle school classmate lived there, but he and his parents moved out between eighth grade and freshman year.  The new owners installed that fence.  I guess that’s a couch on the roof.

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The best for last.  This is the corner of Crittenden and Wisconsin.  This is definitely the most desirable house in the Benton Park neighborhood IMHO.  It was renovated quite some time ago, well before the wave of yuppie gentrification.  The only down side is that the original brick garage couldn’t be salvaged, so they built a plain jane frame wooden garage in its place, not picture.  This is mildly defensible, but I still prefer the one above in Soulard that’s perched higher above the street.

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4 responses

6 06 2012
Puggg

I’m particularly fond of Lafayette Square. Got any pics from there?

6 06 2012
countenance

I don’t think so. But when I’m in the area next, e.g. Soulard Market, I’ll take pics. Really, though, pictures can’t do that neighborhood justice, it has to be seen to be appreciated really. It was the first city neighborhood to experience gentrification, we’re talking like 1980s. And the people there have quietly done everything they can short of violate civil rights laws to make Lafayette Park unattractive to blacks, e.g. removing the basketball hoops, and other things.

It’s not my absolute favorite city neighborhood, though. If I could buy, I would buy around Carondelet Park, especially on the west or north sides, preferably north. While it’s not even comparable to the park front housing along Lindell north of Forest Park, and not the eye candy of Lafayette Square, you’ve got some really nice looking houses along Holly Hills on the north edge of CP, and the social demographics of the whites that live there are closer to me than the whites of either LS or the CWE.

7 06 2012
Puggg

That’s maybe the fortunate thing about St. Louis as in the City.

There are still enough whites left to where you can be picky.

Can’t do that in Detroit!

9 06 2012
Lafayette Square « Countenance Blog

[...] you thought my first house tour was eye candy, then prepared to be blown away.  There are 75 pictures here, so I arranged them in [...]




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