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Mississippi Avenue Between Lafayette Avenue and Kennett Place

The entire block of Mississippi Avenue between Lafayette Avenue and Kennett Place is in-fill, constructed in the first decade of the Twenty-First Century. But if we look back to Compton and Dry, we learn there was a whole other life to this block, one that was already complete when Pictorial St. Louis was published in 1876.

There were three large Second Empire houses; Compton and Dry reveals that the one on the corner, 1622 Mississippi Avenue, was owned by Capt. E. A. Sheble.

And my, what a masterpiece it was! The houses was still standing in 1927 when it was photographed by W.C. Persons. Note how it was designed to face both Mississippi and Lafayette avenues with public fronts on both elevations. It seems to have fallen victim to demolition or heavy alteration in the 1960s. Does anyone remember what happened to this house?

W.C. Persons, Northeast Corner of Lafayette and Mississippi Avenues, November 19, 1927, Missouri History Museum, N38893

I think the in-fill that was built is really classy, and was well done. Again, what I find interesting is that the block is actually more dense now than it was historically. I’m fine with that; we need people living in St. Louis, and people want to live in Lafayette Square, so the more the merrier. The historic structures were sadly long gone by the time the new houses were built, so no demolition occurred.

And like on other streets, I can tell the architects consulted historic images to give themselves an idea of how to design the new houses. The local historic district makes sure they follow the rules, and the result, as proven by home sales, is sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars more in real estate values.

So what were the last two houses? The one on the left, the northernmost, was the Stephen Douglas Barlow House, and it was demolished sometime between 1968 and 1971. Its southern neighbor, the Charles Fritz House, fell for an extension of a parking lot that seems to have served the building that subsumed or replaced the Sheble Mansion.

William Swekosky, Stephen Douglas Barlow House, 1600 Mississippi Avenue at Kennett Place, c. 1940, Missouri History Museum, N02887

The block was known as Barlow’s Addition after Mr. Barlow, who laid out the subdivision in 1862, and he built his house in 1868. The other two houses must have followed shortly thereafter in the next decade to have been completed in time to appear in Compton and Dry.

2 Comments

  1. This is a great series on Lafayette Square, Chris. The Sheble-Bixby House was built and owned by Capt. Edwin Sheble. He lived at 1909 Lafayette Ave. His daughter and son in law, Horace Bixby lived in same structure, at 1622 Mississippi Ave. Both were famed steamboat captains and owners. Last indication I had, it was a boarding house in 1943.

    • Thanks for the additional information on the house and its owners! I hope to get back to more of the houses in Lafayette Square in the future.

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