Revisiting Carondelet: Virginia Avenue Between Loughborough Avenue and Blow Street, Blow Elementary School

Exterior View of Blow School, 1866, Missouri History Museum, P0900-40928-01-PR

It’s interesting to see how a similar pattern of development occurs in different parts of the city. As I showed recently at the old Webster Elementary School in Old North, at the Blow Elementary School in Carondelet, there were original two earlier school buildings built adjacent to each other before both were demolished for a modern William Ittner-designed composition from 1903.

Blow School, Second Blow School Building, 1883, Missouri History Museum, P0900-18664-01-PR

It seems to have started with the elegant school in the first photo, and then expanded to the building on the right above by the 1880s. As seen below, Susan Blow’s Kindergarten later moved to the building from the Des Peres School, as well.

Exterior View of Blow School, Later Location at Virginia and Loughborough Avenues, 1895, Missouri History Museum, P0900-S02-00296

But the new school took over the whole block, and its presence commands the entire width of Loughborough between Virginia and Vermont, stretching back to Blow.

Blow School, School Building, January 1938, Missouri History Museum, P0900-18638-01-4a

The trees have gotten bigger, but the school looks largely the same, reflecting the architecture of the Sixteenth Century in Europe after the influence of Michelangelo’s later designs in Florence for the Medici dukes and archdukes. The idiosyncratic style known as Mannerism in architecture also spread to the north to cities just as Antwerp, Amsterdam and Hamburg.

As usual, the central portal of the school is the star.

While there are twin, bisymmetrical wings on either side of the front door.

Perhaps what I find interesting about this school is how the style of architecture then lends itself to other buildings nearby, such as this apartment building below.

Or the YMCA to the west further down Loughborough. Usually, Ittner-Milligan schools are distinctive in that their style is markedly different than that of the residential architecture nearby.

The east side of the street is an interesting mix of houses, including this duplex below.

There are wood frame houses…

As well as this rare Carpenter Gothic house below, which joins one more “pure” example of the style in Carondelet. I looked at this style, which is now rare in St. Louis, several years ago at St. Louis Magazine.

Then we are back to more solid red brick houses in a variety of styles.

Including this impressive Romanesque Revival house below.

Then we arrive at Quincy Street, and cross over.

The former Our Lady of Covadonga comes next, and there is this Italianate house, which has recently been boarded up.

There are more hipped-roof wood frame houses, just like on the west side.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. W. White says:

    I like that you included the yellow Gothic Revival house, but the neighboring house at the corner of Virginia and Quincy is an interesting one. Its original details have either been removed or encased in vinyl, but its relatively large lot, cruciform plan, paired chimneys, flared eaves, and cast iron fence are all indicative of what would have been a substantial and striking looking Italianate or Gothic Revival house that predated most of its neighbors.

  2. Thanks for this history of Blow school. My mother, aunt and uncle attended it in the 1930s. We have a song book from Room 1 of Blow school dated 1937. I always wondered what the school looked like.
    I write a local history column for The Joplin Globe. Henry T. Blow features large in the development of lead and zinc mining in the Tri-State District. He was prominent in business and politics (his family had owned Dred Scott and he later freed Dred Scott after the court case in 1857) and his daughter Susan established kindergartens in St. Louis. Plenty of history to go around! Thanks again!

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