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Portland Place and Hortense Place

Copyright St. Louis Patina -1623

Above is the gate to Portland Place, which is just north of Westmoreland Place. You get to it the same way as Westmoreland Place by going up Lake Avenue from Lindell.

What is most interesting is the varied styles of architecture that occur on these streets, from Tudor Revival (not my favorite) to Renaissance Revival, Gothic Revival and even Beaux-Arts Gilded Age Neo-Classicism.

Here are a few pictures of Hortense Place, which sits to the east of Kingshighway.

25 Comments

  1. You mention the different styles. Weren’t these created from an architect contest during the St. Louis Worlds Fair. I dated a guy that lived in one of these. I think his family still owns the home. That was 30 years ago. It was a gigantic home.

  2. My family lives on Portland–like many of the residents, they’ve lived there for nearly 50 years.I’ve never heard about a contest, but many of the homes were built around the time of World’s Fair. Most of the homes were commissioned by wealthy captains-of-industry, and I doubt any of them would let a contest dictate the style of their houses. There’s a good book on this, if you’re really interested: “Portland Place and Westmoreland,” it’s called.The rent-a-cop, unfortunately, is a necessity, and even in your parents Benz he’ll probably turn you away. His name is Dennis and he’s been working the block for at least 15 years, maybe more. Your best bet is to sneak over the fence on Union during the daytime and avoid eyecontact if you pass anyone.

  3. Thanks. I did check after I wrote that and found out it was a contest for the buildings at Wash U. Here is a link http://www.arch.wustl.edu/index.lasso?pgID=112I love your neighborhood but still a South Side girl at heart. I haven’t lived in St. Louis for over 20 years but my family are all still there.Thanks for the suggestion on the book. I will look for it.

  4. William Lemp Sr.’s daughter, Elsa Lemp Wright, committed suicide at 13 Hortense Place in 1920. She shot herself in the Lemp tradition.

  5. Dennis has been at Portland/Westmoreland for over 25 years. He does a very good job at keeping the streets safe. He goes above and beyond the call of duty.I used to work with Dennis out there and we made some very stops and arrests.

  6. My sister and her husband lived at 17 Hortense Place from 1998 to just last year. I loved that house. My sister had her run-ins with apparitions of the original owner and builder of the home, Mr. Thompson. It was scary to me at first, but I got comfortable with it over the years and cried when I left it for the last time after the house had been sold. I loved the shadows and dark halls and loved to hear the creaks and cracklings that came from the back staircase. Hope the new owners appreciate it as much as I did. A lot of hisory there!

  7. My sister and her husband lived at 17 Hortense Place. What a house! 17rooms with all the rooms having a 17 mentioned in the dimensions! They lived there from 1998 to last year and have moved to Clayton. My sister had her run-ins with apparitions of the original owner and builder of the home, Mr. Thompson. I was first afraid of the place, but grew to love it over the years. I loved the shadows and dark halls and loved to hear the creaks and mysterious sounds from the back staircase. The home was even featured in a movie that starred Leah Thompson while my sister lived there. I cried when I left it for what would be the last time for me after they sold it. I miss visiting there. It was always exciting for me. I hope the new owners appreciate it as much as we did. A lot of history there!!

  8. Hortense Place, although privately owned by the homeowners association, is completely open to the public for walking and driving. I live at number13. Hortense Place was developed by a Jewish builder who was forbidden to live on either Westmoreland or Portland place. We are a friendly street, not people who wish to hide ourselves from the world.

  9. My father worked for Willam Christopher 1968-1970 out of his home on 17 Hortense Place. Does anyone know where his children are? The house looks the same from the outside, still impressive.

  10. Well, Portland Place has made the national news, with many media outlets conveniently ignoring the fact that it is gated and private. Neither the old security guard Dennis nor the old wrought iron gates could stop an angry mob from “peacefully” protesting.

    • Yeah, it sure did, didn’t it? Though I did make an interesting discovery: it turns out at some point the residents of the south side of Westmoreland Place actually ceded their portion of the street to the City of St. Louis, so it is in fact a public street, interestingly enough.

        • Sooooo, it’s a long story. Portland Place appears as privately owned in City of St. Louis plat maps. The owners of 1 Portland Place and the Portland Place Trustees are arguing over where their property line is. The north side of Westmoreland Place appears to still be private property, according to city records. Lake Avenue, which is the north-south street that provides access from Lindell, is definitely privately owned by individuals who own the houses next to the street. It’s a giant legal mess that needs to be worked out in civil court.

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