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Missouri Avenue Between Miami and Potomac Streets, West Side

News of some redevelopment in the 3500 block of Missouri Avenue brought me down to photograph the area, and I discovered two exceptionally interesting buildings that could date to at least the 1870s if not the 1860s. This is a very old subdivision of the St. Louis Commons; Henry T. Blow bought and subdivided the southern third in 1856, and John Belt and Henry Priest bought and subdivided the northern two-thirds in 1859. The first is this rather dilapidated pair of half flounders. We should look past their current condition and realize their construction in wood frame and form are extremely rare and worth preserving.

The second is this one-and-a-half story worker’s cottage, which was almost certainly not originally stuccoed as it is today. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps reveal this is actually a woof frame house, as well.

Looking at Compton and Dry’s Pictorial St. Louis from 1876, we realize that this block or plat of land in the St. Louis Commons was surprisingly built up already, despite being fairly far out from the central city. This makes sense due to its subdivision in 1856 and 1859, as mentioned above. I’ve labeled the half-flounders in the red circle, and the worker’s cottage in the blue circle. The east side of the street probably resisted subdivision due to natural obstacles such as sinkholes.

I suspect that many of those other houses on the block were also wood frame, and were replaced by brick houses in the 1880s and 90s. We see them in the Second Empire row houses that stand on the lots today.

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