A Few Highlights of North St. Louis

Update: This is truly terrible post, and I’ve learned much more about St. Louis history since writing this way back in 2007. Editor, July 2019.

First of all, I apologize for the delay in substantive posts; I’ve not had the chance to photograph new material in a while…

Largely through Built St. Louis I have become fascinated with North St. Louis, in particular the oldest part of the overly large area inside Grand Boulevard. Settled by Germans and Irish close to two hundred years ago in spots, the area is actually going through the early birth pains of a revival. What the image of this revival will look–either historic homes interspersed with compatible, urban construction or an idiotic clean sweep of everything replaced by suburbia–remains to be seen. Here is the path of my trip two years ago in the dead of winter.


Above is the Jesuit shrine of St. Joseph, sitting in what is now a very bizarre, 1980’s condo complex surrounded by light industry and warehouses just north of downtown. I think this is the area of the infamous “Kerry Patch,” where many of the Irish who came to St. Louis before and after the Civil War settled before moving out to Dogtown.

I then headed up North Florissant Ave, which brought me by the hulking mass of this church to the west in the St. Louis Place neighborhood.

You might recognize this house with the mural on the side of it from an earlier post. Maybe someday the vacant lot will be filled in.

Further along, we see yet another sturdy St. Louis split family house, waiting the day when it is considered worthy of habitation–again. Note the decorative motifs in the slate roofs shingles that are most likely original. I came across this hulking building, Bethlehem Lutheran inHyde Park.

Update: The church was demolished in the summer of 2014.

Below is a picture of the devastated North St. Louis Turnverein, or gymnastics club, which was destroyed by fireworks in the summer of 2006. Apparently teenagers did it, but considering the way our civic leaders have treated the northern half of St. Louis, is it any surprise that the city’s youth has embraced a similar disregard for their neighborhood as their elders?

Update: The front building has been demolished, and the site is now a vacant lot. The back gymnasium held on for a year or two longer, but by April 2016, but probably much earlier, it was demolished as well.

Moving on up Blair St, up ahead we see one of three standpipes that were built over a hundred years ago to help protect the pipes of St. Louis’s homes from the vagarities of the city’s steam-powered water pumps. Largely based off of Venice’s campaniles, or bell towers, it is the perfect focal point for neighborhood revitalization just south of Grand Blvd.

The homes are large and ornate in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, and are happily occupied to some extent. It is very common for there to be nice homes on high ground as in this area.

Below, we can see North St. Louis’s iconic, and gigantic, Corinthian column standpipe. It’s funny driving around the traffic circle around its base; nobody knows what to do so they just let you go in front of them. It’s really amazing that the entire area is demolished; after all, the column could form the focus of an exciting entertainment district around its grand space. Just think, maybe some day we will hear people say that they’re going to go out for a night on the town at the “Column.”

Update: The Grand Water was repainted in the summer of 2020.

Finally, we reach the river on Grand Blvd, and the hulking mass of the Mallinckrodt Factory comes into view. Once described by a friend who worked there as similar to Axis Chemicals from the first Batman movie, it’s still chugging away, making the nation’s supply of Methadone.

Update: Both Bethlehem Lutheranand the Turnverein have been torn down.

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