Former Site of Union Park, Soulard

Along Russell Boulevard in Soulard is an interesting row of buildings, some quite old such as this one above and below which now houses artists’ studios (as well as an amazing terracotta frieze which is sadly obscured by a gnarled tree).

I was alerted by a friend who once lived here. If anyone has a clear photo, please let me know! But this is very historic land.

This land was Union Park, where the Stumpfs and their onetime business partner, William J. Lemp, Sr. operated a beer garden in the 1860s. There were bands and benefits for wounded Union soldiers, all for a nominal fee for entry.

Detail of Plate 28, Showing Union Park. Compton and Dry, Pictorial St. Louis, 1876.

As can be seen in Pictorial St. Louis, a decade after the Civil War, the park was still thriving as a recreation space in the rapidly developing neighborhood.

By the early 1900s, however, the large greenspace had largely been subdivided, and the area along Russell had become the Jersey Farm Dairy, and those building were later demolished, leaving a vacant lot that has now been filled in with the apartments above. But the large plot of land further east still has a freestanding house, which you can see below, just as it did for its entire history going back to when this was a exurban retreat in the 1860s.

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