The Beauty of Dutchtown, 88: Meramec Street Between Grand Boulevard and Louisiana Avenue, North Side

We left off on the last Beauty of Dutchtown Series with No. 86.

On a whim during one of the fog events on an early Saturday I photographed the entirety of the north side of Meramec Street, the main east-west artery in Dutchtown. I’ve photographed some sections before, but it is worthwhile to check in and revisit the built environment in different seasons and years and sometimes a decade later. First up is the stretch between Grand Boulevard heading east towards Lousiana Avenue. The former Feasting Fox, which closed during the pandemic is on the southeast corner. Skipping the parking lot and convenience store at the northeast corner of Grand, we first see this Mid-Century former post office next, above.

William Swekosky, Christian Bechtold Residence, 3431 Meramec, Missouri History Museum, N03971

Amazingly, until 1960 there was a wood frame cottage on the site, built by Christian Bechtold in 1844 on land he purchased in the St. Louis Commons directly from the City. Mind you, the Commons had only been surveyed and platted less than a decade before. What a horrible waste–it would be one of the oldest buildings in St. Louis today if it had been saved. And then below, we see this Arts and Crafts bungalow with a jerkinhead eave. I wonder if it was on land out parceled from the Becthold property in the 1920s.

But then we start to see the more “typical” house of Dutchtown east of Grand, which is a Second Empire structure with Romanesque Revival leanings.

Well, then, the next house is interesting. It’s no longer a simple four-square anymore.

I’ve always been intrigued how urban centers adapted to the post-World War II milieu. Despite the standard narrative, not everyone immediately fled to the suburbs, and many older buildings were renovated and adapted to the 1950s and 60s. Look at how they ripped out the front yard and built a front porch that is held up with steel poles! I imagine there was probably a doctor’s office added to the basement.

The side yard got one of the Mid-Century bungalows, as well, reflecting the Baby Boom and the paucity of housing in the City after the War. But then we see more of those late Second Empire/Romanesque Revival hybrids.

But stop the presses! Look at that little guy! While that white house has been heavily modified, I strongly suspect it was built as one of the first dwellings on Meramec. Could it even date to the 1860s or even the 1850s?

This next house has lost its peaked parapet wall, as well as its occupancy permit. It’s a shame because it’s obviously a high quality and

Finally, as we reach Louisiana, which I’ve looked at before to the north before back in August of 2020, there is a corner store with apartments above.

It’s an interesting building in that it doesn’t really look like it was designed for a corner (particularly look at the Meramec façade) but rather a mid-block composition that was plopped down here accidentally. And yes, Louisiana has always been planned to be here since the 1840s.

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