Here and There in Gravois Park and Benton Park West

As Saturday became more cloudy, I snapped this picture of a corner store with a few additions and subtractions over the years. Gone is the classical pediment, most likely deteriorated from the weather and the Formstone added to the front facade’s first floor. It’s interesting to see how buildings evolve over the years. What was once considered an “update” is now considered tacky, or sometimes still fashionable. I don’t know about Formstone.

Update: In August of 2017, the siding began to fall, confirming the brick construction of this flounder. By October of 2022, the siding had been completely removed, showing revealing the exterior of the flounder and its Second Empire neighbor to the east.

I also discovered something interesting about this half flounder, long abandoned and covered in siding. I thought it might be one of the only examples of a wood frame half flounder, but the Sanborn map reveals that it is in fact masonry. Built in 1884, it is one of the oldest houses southwest of Gravois and South Jefferson, and one of only a couple half flounders west of Jefferson. The Second Empire house apparently is part of the same address.

Below, the following row of stately two story houses has fallen on hard times, and while it’s a little hard to tell in this photo, they are leaning precariously, showing evidence of subsidence. It doesn’t help that at least one of the seven houses was gutted by fire, and several other are condemned.

The houses appear in the Sanborn maps at the turn of the Twentieth Century, as the neighborhood was beginning to fill in after being more sparsely settled since the Civil War. Built together in 1909, one has already been demolished.

I dug a little deeper, and discovered the source of the precarious leaning of the houses; the site was the location of a quarry, the usual culprit along with sinkholes for leaning houses in St. Louis. You can see the quarry in the center left, in between Iowa and California, with Utah only a one-block street at the time. It is interesting to see how the history of St. Louis creeps back to the surface in unsettling ways.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. john s says:

    For more flounders west of Jeff, see 2905 Texas, 3158 Texas, and there are a couple I believe around Texas and Osage down by St. Alexius. There is a frame flounder down there too, 37XX Texas? These are all 1-story buildings. Seems like there are far more 2-story flounders around…

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Yes, should have mentioned the Texas one:

  2. samizdat says:

    With the exception of the capitals atop the porch pillars, the porch roof type (ours has a gable end), the placement of the white-glazed brick in the half-circle parapet (ours originally had a swag), that house next to the flounder is the spittin’ image of our house here in Dutchtown.

    For the life of me, I cannot understand why someone would put vinyl siding on a brick house. It’s not as if the crappy R-practically nothing-equivalent polystyrene foam which is often installed with the poisonous vinyl actually creates a thermal break. I guess the spiel offered by the sales people is just that convincing to the rubes.

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