Update: Demolished for the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in 2017. The City of St. Louis cut ties with Paul McKee’s Northside in June of 2018.
Much ado has been made about the corn and soybean fields sprouting up from the urban prairie in southwest St. Louis Place.
Of course, this was once farmland before the Civil War, but after the war it quickly grew into one of the densest neighborhoods in the city. By the turn of the Twentieth Century, there was little open land, let alone fallow fields. Note, the numbered streets changed between 1876 and 1904.
This is what that same neighborhood looks like today, looking south on 23rd Street.
As I have noticed with my own family’s farm, it’s amazing, and almost unsettling how much the corn transforms the landscape into an almost unrecognizable new world.
This view, with the red brick over the green soybeans is very nice, if strange.
True to the neighborhood’s Irish heritage, St. Leo’s Catholic Church served surrounding streets; it was a massive edifice, and it’s shocking to think that it’s gone. There are still huge old Catholic churches left on the North Side, but many of them have fallen. The cornerstone, albeit moved from its original location, still marks the spot of this church.
I had to laugh at an Irish parish having a “temperance hall,” but then I did more research and realized the hall represents a prominent 19th Century social movement in America to reduce alcohol consumption by providing a wholesome, non-alcoholic social environment for the neighborhood. Look at the size of the building plant; this church served all sorts of purposes besides just a house of worship. It’s all gone now, save for a piece of granite in the weeds.