Category Archives: Grand Center

Falstaff Brewery Plant One, Former Forest Park Brewery

Falstaff Beer, once brewed and bottled in over ten locations around the United States, including four plants in St. Louis, has a long tradition going back to the Lemps. The old Forest Park Brewery, where the Griesedieck family began producing Falstaff after buying the brand from the Lemps during Prohibition, was one of two breweries where beer was distributed to the public after Prohibition ended. Falstaff never built a brewery in St. Louis, but bought up old defunct breweries instead.

The offices are now again a brewery called Six Row Brewery.

I never looked very closely at this building, driving by on Forest Park Avenue, but it actually is fairly interesting, and upon closer inspection had the massing and accoutrements of many other more well-known breweries in the city.

After Faltstaff began brewing beer at larger facilities, this brewery changed to a bottle shop and plant.

Forest Park Avenue has many such old industrial uses, and the Falstaff Brewery is one such great example.

Please visit this great Falstaff Beer site, where I learned most of my information about the old brewing company.

Grand Viaduct, Styrofoam and Bad Decisions

As I remarked recently, for some St. Louisans, this will be the third Grand Viaduct over Mill Creek in their lifetimes. Let us hope it is the last. I still can’t believe they tore down the old one; august and massive, it was our own Brooklyn Bridge, right in the heart of the city. But alas, as you can see at 3:34 in this old movie, it fell victim to “progress.”
Now sixty or so years later, I was driving on the exit ramp under the new bridge, and spotted these large white monoliths. I finally realized they were huge blocks of styrofoam, which are also being used in the filling of the old Tucker Tunnel downtown. I even glimpsed some of the old masonry for the original bridge, but I was not able to photograph before it was covered by new construction.

Regardless of the cost of revamping the original bridge, I can’t imagine it being more than the cost of building two new bridges in its place in as many generations.

Vandeventer Place, Revisited

Four years after I first covered Vandeventer Place, there still is a paucity of information and photographs of what was once the grandest private street in St. Louis. I only could find a couple of grainy postcards that preserve the appearance of the once august street.

I often tell people that if even Vandeventer Place (or Gaslight Square, for that matter) isn’t safe from decline and the wrecking ball, then none of our built environment should be taken for granted.

I drove up Spring Avenue recently, and when I passed through the block where Vandeventer Place once stood, I took a photo to the right and to the left. It is hard to believe that even just sixty years ago Richardsonian Romanesque mansions and Gothic Revival castles once stood. Instead, I saw a chain-link fence blocking one of the ugliest buildings in St. Louis, the Veterans’ Hospital…

…and on the other side, a forlorn and rapidly deteriorating “youth services facility,” or as one of my students who works there calls it, the teen jail.

Below, I made an attempt to stitch together the Sanborn Maps for Vandeventer Place, hoping to give you an idea of its former glory. Coming later today.

The Italianate and Second Empire Legacy of Grand Center

While Grand Center and the surrounding neighborhoods are now well-known respectively for being the theater district of St. Louis and acres of parking lots and desolation, the area first saw life as a wealthy residential section of the city. While photographs commemorate the 1880-1900 housing stock of the area, very little of it remains, replaced by newer historic houses, skyscrapers and theaters.

But if you look closely, there are survivors of that earlier, more tranquil era of the neighborhood. On nearby Belle Place, a couple of houses scattered amongst later houses and vacant lots remind still stand.

This amazing Italianate country house sticks out on its block, several decades older than the surrounding building stock, and out of fashion by the Twentieth Century.

Nearby, a stately house with a Mansard roof represents the Second Empire history of the neighborhood. Interestingly, its newer neighbors have not survived.

Looking at the Sanborn Map for the street, it looks like there were probably numerous other Italianate and Second Empire houses on the block; the newer houses are four-squares but the map shows slender houses, more reminiscent of the older architectural styles.

If you look closely, you can see these first houses built on these streets all over the area west and east of Grand.

Council Tower Brick Mural Nearing Completion

I was going to document every stage of the relaying of the brick mural on the east side of the Council Tower, but they worked so fast I didn’t get a chance to photograph it until it was almost done. Apparently, the different colors of the mural are achieved through paint, and not different glazed bricks. I will be excited to see it done.