We looked at the west side of Benton Place yesterday where we went through much of the history, so we’ll jump right in to the houses on the east side of the private place in Lafayette Square, where there is a remarkable amount of preservation with only one demolished house that has been replaced by sensitive in-fill.
There are far less trees blocking the view than when the street was photographed in the first half of the Twentieth Century, at a time when Benton Place was probably largely filled with rooming houses.
As we can see, the Second Empire dominated, as was common in the 1870s, and the east side would maintain that stylistic unity for the most part. We’ve looked at No. 18 before in this post about Park Avenue. No. 19, which is #30 Benton Place was the house of Edward S. Rowse, who was one of the major developers of Benton Place. No 20, which is #34 Benton Place, was Judge J.J. Lindlay’s house, and finally, No. 21 below was #40, the house of Richard Ludlow.
Much more was to be built, as we can see from the Whipple map of 1896.
All the historic houses had been built by then, and is confirmed by the 1908 Sanborn map, which you can see below.
Heading north from Park Avenue, the first house is 10 Benton Place, which was also owned by Edward S. Rowse, according to William Swekosky, who would do scrupulous deed research for properties. I suspect this is actually his son, Edward Francis Rowse’s house. But there are also records of other Rowse elders living in the house.
But it is perhaps more famous for being owned by Frederick Lehmann the lawyer. It is in the Romanesque Revival style, and despite one source stating it was built in 1867, that is far too old for this style of architecture.
City records state the year of construction as 1890, which is much closer to reality.
Regardless, it is an absolutely gigantic house, and it is now a bed and breakfast.
The telltale fire escape on the back shows that this was once a rooming house as well.
Moving along, we get to #20 on the right, and #22 on the left.
The house with the address #22 was owned by John Vogel, who arrived in St. Louis in 1855 and died here in 1896. His son Charles was perhaps more famous, going into real estate and finance after serving in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Next is the house owned by William Hull and A.W. Spilker.
The next house is a real beauty, but had lost its front porch by the early Twentieth Century, no doubt due to deferred maintenance by slumlord ownership.
Today, it is magnificently restored, and the Charles Maguire Residence at #28 looks much better than it did half a century ago.
The original Edward S. Rowse house is visible above and below; it was one of the original buildings on the east side when it was built at #30.
Judge J.J. Lindlay has the other large Second Empire house at #34, with a beautiful copper covered bay window. Second Empire houses do not have to be perfectly bisymmetrical, but they do need to be balanced.
It has a slight protruding tower on the left façade, and it’s interesting how the stones of the arches over the windows and door have been painted a different color.
It likewise looks like it had fallen into disrepair over a hundred years ago.
Finally, at #40, which were lots 23 and 23, was the Richard Ludlow Residence, which perched a little precariously right on the end of the street. It was the only what I would call Italianate style house on the street, and it was supposedly designed by the same son as the Dewitt Stone dwelling directly west across Benton Place, which we saw yesterday.
From what I understand, the house had been gutted by fire, leaving it in its sad state in the years after World War II.
Richard Ludlow was a wire manufacturer, which was a big business in St. Louis, as evidenced in the size of a competitor, the Leschen Wireworks in Wells-Goodfellow. It was torn down in 1947 by Retta Strantz Reed, a bail bondswoman who didn’t want a vacant home near her residence at #35. She also owned bees and tropical fish. Apparently her fiddling with the light switch for the street lights was one of the reasons the other residents eventually revolted against the street being private–besides the “shell hole” sized potholes in the street due to lack of maintenance.
Today, a very well done in-fill house in the Second Empire style has replaced the vacant lot.
Here you can see the back of the Ludlow house in better times, with the massive retaining wall holding up Benton Place before the hill was cut away.
The wall is 365 feet long, with Hickory Street down below; apparently an ordinance numbered 14154 resolved issues with property owners in Benton Place in 1887 for through rights for the street. As can be seen below, Hickory had not even been envisioned back in 1870.