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McPherson Avenue at North Taylor Avenue, The Sherwood Court Apartments

At the northwest corner of North Taylor and McPherson avenues is this stellar apartment building. It’s huge, and contains dozens of apartments. But if you look closely, again it’s really just a bunch of six-family flats built right next to each other with exterior entrances for each “unit.”

Northwest Corner of McPherson and Taylor Avenues, c. 1912, Missouri History Museum, N39141

The Sherwood Court Apartments were developed by Claude Vrooman and cost $200,000 when it was built in 1908, according to designs by George Kennerly. Apparently William B. Ittner, who designed many of the schools I’ve shown recently and in the past, lived here at one time.

The centerpiece is the courtyard, with its elaborate central portal, which reminds me in a lot of ways of an Ittner-designed school.

Looking closely, we can see that this is terracotta, cast to create the intricate designs.

The elaborate cornice above the main entrance has two volutes above a cartouche with the plaque holding the name of the apartment building.

But looking more closely, something else becomes obvious about this building.

Update: Thanks to a reader’s tip, I learned that the apartment building was in fact finished, but portions of it were demolished. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps confirm that there were originally two more wings that connected the central portion to the other wings along McPherson. Also, it can be seen below how the building is really just a series of self-contained units joined together into a single whole. It was also originally known by its builder’s name, the Vrooman Apartments.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, St. Louis, Missouri, 1909 September, Sheet 042.

It is clearly not finished! On either side of the central six-family, there are two wings missing that would have attached the centerpiece to the other large wings facing McPherson Avenue.

Those two flanking wings have an abundance of ornament that are accented with more terracotta elements, including more cartouches and shields.

5 Comments

  1. Outstanding! Beautiful apartments, I would liked to have to have seen the interior back in the day. Love that they kept the old street lights.
    The place oozes history, The fact William Ittner lived there adds to the mystique!
    Glad it has survived the ravages of time.

  2. When I was a student at SLU circa 1972, I lived at 4384 Westminster Place. Gaslight Square was really cratering, and the decay was spreading south to McPherson and Maryland Avenues. IIRC, Sherwood Court was abandoned and vacant about that same time. A redevelopment plan was started, which included some demolitions that produce the “unfinished” look. Apparently the abandonment had caused serious structural problems which necessitated the partial demolition. I think the redevelopment was completed approximately 1975.

    • Interesting! So it was actually completed, but it was later partially demolished?

      • Yes. I may even have a copy of The West End Word from the mid-70’s announcing the redevelopment plan and partial demo.

        • That would be great! I found a Sanborn map that shows the complete building and have added it to the post.

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