What we now call LaSalle Park, part of what I call the greater Frenchtown neighborhood, was originally just part of the greater urban fabric of what we now celebrate as historic Soulard. (Note that Rutger and Morrison were once named Autumn and Winter, respectively,)
I still don’t know what the heck to think about this neighborhood. It’s surrounded by interstates, public housing that is admittedly being renovated after being gutted by fire (and constantly in the news for bedbugs) and Tucker Boulevard. I don’t know many people who live here so I can’t get a feel about how well the neighborhood works. Today, we’ll walk about the Tenth Street Mall, which was originally a normal street as you can see above in Compton and Dry’s Pictorial St. Louis and Sanborn maps, and was originally named South Street.
One the left is a church that had many names: First German Lutheran Church, and then First German Presbyterian Church. But it is now the St. Louis Religious Society of Friends, or as most people know them, the Quakers.
This is an extremely historic building, and perhaps is one of the oldest churches in the City of St. Louis. It would be interesting to do some more investigation in the future to determine just how old the structure is.
It is a simple German Hallkirche, meaning that it is Gothic Revival but has no transepts (nor apse, it seems), and has only engaged buttresses. It is a simple structure, indeed.
The glass in the windows have probably been altered, having once contained stained glass.
Moving north are some more exceptionally old housing stock, which show the transition from the Greek Revival into the Italianate with hipped roofs, which admittedly are hard to see in this photograph.
The house below was actually once part of a row, I believe, judging from the scars on its side.
There is an entire intact row of Italianate row houses, which are amazing survivors from the past; there were once thousands more of these in existence in St. Louis, but the rest are gone. They were wiped away in the mid-Twentieth Century.
The house on the corner was converted into a Second Empire storefront, most likely in the 1870s or 1880s. All the houses are in great shape.
Then we spot the two houses that are proving to be problems. They face the parking lot of the public housing, and have no real street access from the rest of the neighborhood. I understand why they’re hard to redevelop.
I spoke with a homeless man who was staying at his father’s house for the time being. While I was a bit pessimistic about the future of the buildings, he was optimistic, saying that the deterioration was only minor, and that they could be fixed with some investment. I hope he’s right, because it would be a shame to lose any more of the amazing housing stock in this area.
I’ve looked at these two buildings before back in the summer of 2019.
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I did some checking on that church last year for some folks who do walking tours of neighborhoods. Here’s what I found:
Friends Meeting House. Ok. This was weird. The address given for this place is 1001 Park. But looking at that on a map, that address appears to be a parking lot. So I’m assuming you are referring to the older church-looking building behind that, yes?
The original address for that building was 1000 Autumn (later Rutger). From what I can tell, it was built ca. 1870 as the First German Presbyterian Church. It may have suffered damage in the 1896 tornado and needed to be rebuilt (sources vary on that). They moved to larger digs ca. 1917 and the building became the Tenth Street Presbyterian Mission. That entity existed until 1946 when parishioners walked out and started a new church. In 1947 it became the A.G. Brauer Lutheran Chapel and sometime after 1964, the delightfully- named Brauer Lutheran Church of the Holy Comforter, a place where I imagine congregants snuggling up on a chaise lounge under a duvet with a cup of tea, a good book and the pet of their choice. No? Would’ve been a lovely place.
In any case, the Lutherans sold it to one Barbara Lounsbury Donohue in 1981. Don’t know how long she owned the building. She had an interior design/art place on the Landing in those years with her stepdaughter Debbie Donohue, a ceramicist. (fun fact, Debbie lived in the two-family flat next door to me.) Austin Tao Landscape Architecture was based in the building ca.1983-1986. (Ms. Lounsbury still owned it though) After that, a photographer by the name of Jerry Tovo bought the building and ran his business from there. The address changed to 1001 Park ca. 1988. Tovo left town for Chicago in 1996/97. He sold the building and much of the contents. I believe that is when the Quakers bought it.
I live in the house with all the Christmas decorations! (The Second Empire storefront) I’ve been trying to track down any info about the house and history of the neighborhood and came across your site. Thanks for the work!
Amanda, due to the neighborhood being the subject of an urban renewal plan in the Twentieth Century, there are a plethora of books on the history of your neighborhood in the special collections of the Central Library in downtown St. Louis. Now that I think about it, I think I’ve actually read them before. You should make an appointment to visit the St. Louis Room, and ask to see them. If you go to the SLPL.org website, just search for “LaSalle Park” and you’ll get a list of about a half-dozen books about the neighborhood. Some of them are in special collections, so you’ll need to arrange to view them ahead of time. It’s worth it!
Although those “TWO PROBLEM HOUSES” may not have street access, I think they deserve to be redeveloped. I think there’s bias because they face the public housing.
I completely agree. I hope someone with vision, like the gentleman I talked to, comes forward soon and saves what are two beautiful and historic houses. I think they’re worth it.