Heading east of Missouri Avenue, we encounter one of those houses that I have a weakness for: the three story Italianate townhouse. It’s hard to see, but it has a hipped roof on top. It’s also missing its cornice, but it’s still a stunner, and anchors the northeast corner (the park lies to the south). What is also fascinating is that none of the houses between Missouri Avenue and what is now MacKay Place (formerly Armstrong Place) in 1875 still stands.
They were all replaced by later Nineteenth Century houses, or by in-fill built in the 1980s. But what I love about this block is how successful the new life of this block since it was captured in Pictorial St. Louis has been. Perhaps most dramatically is the large house in the middle of the block that sat on a large acreage, far back from the street. I could not find a photograph of it, unfortunately. As a side note, in the lower right you can see the Greek Revival house I’ve featured before here and its neighbor on MacKay Place.
The City’s date of 1880 certainly sounds correct, and would fit in the with the general development of the area.
As was typical, the house was brick on the side, and cut stone on the front, taking advantage of increase railroad connections to better quality stone quarries south and southwest of St. Louis. And also typical, and records prove this, this house was almost certainly cut up into a rooming house or apartment building, the fire escape attesting to its life in the Twentieth Century.
Next is this house with the dramatic front porch, which you can see below.
I have admit I have always wondered about that porch, but interestingly, it has been there since the Sanborn map, which clearly shows it, and you can also see it below in the photograph from 1960. It is original to the house.
Lafayette Square Looking Northwest, Ralph A. Ross, February 14, 1960, Missouri History Museum, N44755.
Then there are two very beautiful houses, which were probably some of the last upper middle-class houses built in the neighborhood, and what I would expect to see in neighborhoods such as Shaw or Tower Grove South.
They are both in great condition and provide a break from the cut stone of the Nineteenth Century houses on either side of them.
Then come two rows of “true” Italianate rowhouses. At first glance, they appear to be wonderfully restored examples of houses from the golden age of Lafayette Square. I photographed the first set back in 2017.
But looking more closely, we realize they are carefully designed in-fill, built in 1984. There were never actually houses of this density on these lots historically, but again, I approve of this, as this City needs more density and residents–taxpayers. These rowhouses, and the ones below, pay enough property taxes to pay the salary of an entire police officer, if you can believe that.
The cornice, which is an important feature of an Italianate house, has been faithfully recreated, as you can see below.
The four remaining rowhouses are also from 1984, and they have grown old gracefully on the corner lot where two Second Empire houses used to stand before being demolished.