Shaw Place, Revisited

Due to the giant no trespassing signs written in gold lettering, I had to look at Shaw Place, laid out by Henry Shaw himself, from the public right-of-way.

The eight houses, designed by George I. Barnett, were originally intended as rental properties to generate income for Shaw in his Lafayette Addition.

Their style was meant to evoke houses that the Englishman remembered back at home.

It’s interesting that while each house is different, they are all architecturally unified, which was surely the intention of Barnett when he designed them originally.

They function individually but also as part of a greater whole.

They peek over the top of tall fences down onto Shaw Avenue on the south side.

Back in 1875, the area was still largely undeveloped, though the groundwork for the private place seems to have begun to be fleshed out already. One house was already on the property, but it probably was not one of Shaw’s buildings. It was owned by a Fred Holmes, labeled as No. 2.

Detail of Plate 67, Compton and Dry, Pictorial St. Louis, 1876, Library of Congress.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. tgeman says:

    Shaw Place consists of a total of 10 houses, with a couple apparently built later and designed to fit in with the others. While a private street and uniquely charming, Shaw Place did not have the “air” normally associated with private places. From its inception it seemed to have a certain informality, including houses of comparatively modest scale. I don’t know if he’s still there, but many years ago one of the houses was occupied by a man who energetically enforced PRIVACY. Anyone he did not recognize and spotted strolling there would be greeted loudly with an officious, MAY I HELP YOU? followed by an angry tirade about how the street was plainly marked private, leave now, I can call police, etc. Unfortunate. I don’t think the other residents were quite that fierce about the privacy thing.

    1. Alexandria says:

      My 3 children and I live down the way and went for a stroll. The street is very eerie. I Immediately noticed a resident glaring at us through a window and then a woman very rudely pointed out it was private. I’d like to add an entire family out on their front porch, kids and all Immediately went inside upon noticing us. So, to answer your question, yes, the odd behavior remains, unjustified and offensive. We are merely new to the area and I so badly wanted a peek at the architecture.

      1. cnaffziger says:

        Wow, just wow. I guess I wasn’t being paranoid. Thank God for telephoto lenses.

  2. W. White says:

    The attitude of the commenters making the above comments is astounding but not surprising in this day and age. Shaw Place is a private street, like several others are in St. Louis. That means, because it is not public, that members of the public have no right to any access onto that street unless invited by a resident of that street. Alexandria and her children had absolutely no right to take “a stroll” on land that does not belong to them, particularly with signs clearly stating they have no right to do so. It would be no different than the residents of Shaw Place deciding to take a stroll into Alexandria’s living room, uninvited. They have no right to any access to Alexandria’s property or residence, unless invited. The sense of entitlement that allows someone to stroll onto someone else’s private property as if that person owns it is a symptom of this country’s degradation.

    I have undertaken several architectural surveys in the past, in both very urban and very rural areas and types in between. Never did I act like I had a right to be on someone’s property uninvited. Many rural properties I surveyed were very difficult to properly survey from public roads and right-of-ways. But, instead of strolling onto those properties like I owned them, taking photographs and measurements as I pleased; I would go up to front doors, knock, and respectfully ask the property owner or resident for permission to be on their property for the purpose of doing what I needed to do. Sometimes, people were not entirely receptive to my presence at their door, at least at first, but I never considered their attitude to be odd behavior that was unjustified and offensive. Very rarely, people would not give me any permission to be on their property; that was something I had to accept and move on.

    Today, as property owner, when people come up my driveway or onto my property, uninvited, I ask them, “How can I help you?” If they have no business with me or valid reason to be on my property, then they have the same right to be on my property as Alexandria had to stroll on Shaw Place: absolutely none.

    1. cnaffziger says:

      I agree to a point, but when someone lives on an architecturally and historically significant street, particularly one associated with one of the most famous St. Louis and ever, Henry Shaw, you are setting yourself up for what the law calls an “attractive nuisance.” Besides, how can a layman even know for sure if the signs are legitimate or just a bluff? Quickly run down to the Streets Division and confirm that the street is in fact not a public thoroughfare? Some people think Benton Place and Compton Heights are still private but they are both now public rights-of-way.

      Years ago my friends and I explored Cabanne Place, a famous North City private street, and people came out to welcome us and say hello! The president of the neighborhood association even gave us a tour! I think you know the difference in demographics between Shaw and Cabanne Places…

      We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

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