The block of Lafayette Avenue across from the park between Mississippi Avenue (formerly Park Place) and Nicholson Place is short, but it is packed with history.
Sadly, Number 2 on Compton and Dry’s Pictorial St. Louis, the house of John P. Meyer, was lost for a parking lot, which remains its function to this day.
The next two houses are stunning examples of the Second Empire, with amazing millwork surviving on their dormers and cornices.
Number 1 on Pictorial St. Louis is the house of August Guye, seen above and below.
But then, what’s up with the large lawn seen in the detail of Pictorial St. Louis above? Let’s look at the next plate over and see what the house looked like that owned that lawn below.
Number 8 is listed as “Staehlin Homestead, David Nicholson, Owner.” It seems like the owner of the Phoenix Brewery had owned a country home on this plat, and had recently sold the property to Mr. Nicholson, who owned the Italianate villa labeled No. 7 above (we’ll learn more about that tomorrow).
Apparently that Staehlin country house was demolished very early on, probably because it was now out of style in an antebellum architectural mode, and replaced with the house above. And the towering Italianate edifice below, the Charles Bauer House, rose in the middle of the front lawn.
A photograph from sometime in the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century shows that one of my favorite houses in St. Louis has changed little over its lifetime. Its a stunner and shows how the Italianate style can function in its “urban” form.
William Swekosky, Charles Bauer Residence, 2018 Lafayette Avenue, 1878-1906, Missouri History Museum, N02902
Then the corner is this small storefront, which shows how the neighborhood transitioned into a more working class Lafayette Square in the Twentieth Century.