Italianate and Second Empire on Compton Avenue

I’ve always been mystified why there’s a stretch of Italianate/Second Empire houses on Compton Aveneue just south of I-44; the houses were all built between 1883 and 1885, but the majority of the houses around them date from 1915 to 1931.


I looked to the Sanborn maps, and discovered that much of the area around Compton Avenue developed very late compared to the rest of the area. In fact, the reason the houses across the street from the row, seen here in between Russell and Geyer Avenues, is that a large mansion occupied the property, and it was obviously demolished sometime in the first two decades of the Twentieth Century.

But I’m so glad they survived, as much of the housing stock from the central corridor and the Near South Side was demolished for being outdated and in poor condition. These houses are really wonderful.

Look how the two dwarf Mansard roods have aged differently over the last century; the one on the left might even be new shingles.

The house below is stunning, and surely could fit in perfectly fine in Lafayette Square.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jenn, South City says:

    It would be fascinating to find out more about that mansion and its builder. Is that a carriage house and servant’s quarters out back? And would that small yellow square with a “1” be a privy?

    I imagine that the homes were built when that area was considered the countryside. When the land became built up the wealthy moved further away. Lots were split up and newer homes were constructed. And so it continues…

    1. Charles says:

      The numbers represent the stories of the structure. The colors represent the type, where red is masonry and yellow is wood. I would say these structures has indoor plumbing at this point. The structure out back could be any combination of carriage house (as you suggested) along with a summer kitchen for the staff to prepare the food to allow for the main house to not overheat during the warmer months of the year (Air conditioning is the greatest invention for the south ever!!)

      It may have also been a fire that destroyed the former home there and that allowed for construction of the homes along Allen and Compton.

      Also these are some great photos, This style of architecture is one of my favorites and St Louis has more than its fair share it seems to me!

  2. CM says:

    Beautiful architecture. Just stunning. Saw a few of these Italianate/Second Empire houses that were rehabbed on Zillow and WOW! The few that were in my price range came and went very fast. Very good if you can get one and update the inside but keep the true character of the house. The ones that kept the original turn of the last century charm will only go up in price. Never ceases to amaze me how these I/SE homes have so much charm and warmth and the new stuff going up is stark, cold and sterile looking. Thank you for posting these gems.

  3. kimberly says:

    my greatgrandparents lived in this home at 2013 compton….have many memories..They were James E Shaw and Ollie Shaw…any info on this home would be of great help in passing on family history to grandchildren and thanks for the picture!

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