Hammett Place

Hammett Place is one of those special places that I found on accident and that I suspect most people in the St. Louis region have never heard of before. Whilte technically part of a neighborhood created by the City government in the late Twentieth Century called Kingsway East, it’s tucked away on the edge of the western Greater Ville in the former Papin Tract, and its early platting made it one of the culprits for the odd and disjointed street grid in the area. Due to streetcar connections, it was laid out very early, in 1884, and it was already largely built up by 1897 when it was captured by the Whipple Fire Insurance Map Company. Seen below is the western half first, followed by the eastern half second.

Whipple’s fire insurance map of St. Louis, Mo. Volume 7,1897. Plate 19, Left Side

Due to no coordination, the later Braconnier Place (later renamed Hammett to match up with the eastern portion) does not align with with its longer neighbor. Hammett Place was laid out to be 1100 feet long and 100 feet wide. The original plat has consideration for a wide sidewalk on each side, so there was not meant to be a 100 foot wide street per se, but more of a right-of-way of that expanse. The street did not become public until 1906 under City Ordinance 22714. Before that time the residents of the street considered it public, but it was actually private. It was a huge legal mess; there was no mention of the street in the residents’ deeds and their massive lots (100 feet wide by 193 feet 3/8 inches long), so the street was in legal limbo when the paving of Marcus Avenue at the outlet of the street came up for resident levy. The paving company sued the residents, since longtime City policy was for residents to pay for the paving of the street in front of their house, but if Hammett was the public street in front of their house, they wouldn’t have to pay for the paving of Marcus! If Hammett was private, then Marcus was the adjacent public street, so they all would have to pay for its paving out in front of their houses. They met in the now-demolished church at the end of their subdivision. The final solution, as mentioned a second ago, was the passage of a board bill formally recognizing Hammett Place as a public right-of-way maintained by the City of St. Louis.

Whipple’s fire insurance map of St. Louis, Mo. Volume 7,1897. Plate 19, Right Side

Regardless, we are left with some very unique houses, built in the late Nineteenth Century, far out in the “country” when this area was the suburbs of St. Louis.

The houses for the most part take advantage of the huge lots, and they all sit far back on their lots, giving the Place the feeling of a railroad suburb out in St. Louis County.

But not surprisingly, as is the case with Lewis Place, developers subdivided the huge lots and built smaller houses, as well.

Of course, these houses were once much more elaborate, with millwork that was churned out from the multitude of St. Louis’s planing mills.

This house below, for example, might have had a turret much like the house we saw earlier further down the street to the east.

Where there is now vinyl siding, there was once probably fish scale shingles or other ornate sheathing in wood.

And the yes, we get to the dogleg where we hook on to the former Bracconier Place. Sorry about the low quality photos–the sun went behind a cloud and things went south.

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