Indiana Avenue Between Lynch and Pestalozzi, East Side

Detail of Plate 36, Compton and Dry’s Pictorial St. Louis, 1876, Library of Congress.

A reader recommended I look at the 2800 block of Indiana Avenue in Benton Park, which is in between Pestalozzi Avenue and Lynch Street. I’ve looked at the block of Indiana just to the north back in December of 2022, as well as a section to the south back in June of 2015. I’ve also investigated some of the oldest houses in this area, in a post from September of 2021. The block is part of the Labadie and Lynch’s Subdivision, which began to be platted out over the course of a decade in 1856, which sounds about right for that part of the city. As can be seen above, there was already a fairly large cluster of houses just to the southeast of the intersection of Gravois and Jefferson by 1876, when Pictorial St. Louis published; but just look at the large sinkholes and ponds that still existed at the time.

Whipple’s fire insurance map of St. Louis, Mo. Volume 5, 1896, Plate 253.

By 1896, when the Whipple Fire Insurance maps were published, the block was mostly filled in, but not completely, as we can see for the east side of the street (the bottom of the page). We start with a Greek Revival corner storefront.

But then we see smaller houses that were clearly squeezed into the block in the later Nineteenth Century.

Larger two story houses dominate the block, for the most part.

This area, as this house below illustrates, as trapezoidal shaped blocks, the result of those long, slender French Colonial farm fields that come up from the river, disrupting the checkerboard pattern of the St. Louis Commons as surveyed by Charles DeWard.

Look closely: do you see the little wood frame house in the backyard?

Here’s another one: I suspect it was built first and then as density and prosperity grew in the neighborhood, a brick house was built up front, leaving the original wood frame as an alley dwelling. Rare, and very cool.

Notice how the houses flip right here from facing one angle to the street to another? Again, because of the street grid not matching up with the lines of those farm fields from the Eighteenth Century.

These four-families were probably some of the last buildings built in the primary period of construction on the block. These buildings are all a decade or two newer because there was that giant pond that had to be filled in first!

Something about this building below is weird; I think it may have been altered at some point. Its proportions are strange.

There’s even a gambrel roof thrown in.

Finally, there’s some in-fill thrown in, which I support as vacant lots do little to help the tax revenue flow of the city. I think they’re nicely done.

This beautiful corner store building anchors the intersection of Pestalozzi and Indiana. While there is not as much demand for small corner stores anymore, it still creates a visual punctuation mark for the street wall.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Joshua Vise says:

    I’m so glad you made it out there! It really did seem like an interesting spot. Thank you for your hard work and detailed research!

    1. cnaffziger says:

      You’re welcome! Thanks for the tip!

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