The Greater Ville in Extensus

I will be looking at the Greater Ville neighborhood for the next couple of weeks. I’ve looked at The Ville before. The Ville was the old wood frame exurb of Elleardsville, where segregation forced St. Louis’s African American middle class to live. The Greater Ville, horseshoe shaped and embracing the smaller Ville neighborhood around it to the west, north and east, was white. Then came the revolutionary Shelley vs. Kramer Supreme Court case, and African Americans began to move into the Greater Ville. I will be primarily looking at the areas north of the historic Ville area in these posts, and I have certainly photographed some parts of this large and architecturally diverse area before, but I hope you see this area in a new light. We started at the intersection of St. Louis and Lambdin Avenues and proceeded west on the former.

The long rectangular block bounded by St. Louis Avenue, Lambdin, Newstead and Labadie is not doing well. There has been a lot of abandonment and demolition.

But what I discovered from looking at city plat maps is that some of these lots never had houses on them, for whatever reason. But there is still something sad about these wide open vistas.

Moving north across the vacant lots towards Labadie Avenue, we spotted something fairly unique to the city: short, one block long streets that cut perpendicular to the prevailing street grid. We’ll look at those more in the future.

This beautiful Romanesque Revival building is now abandoned, having been a daycare.

There is an interesting variety of housing stock on the “main” streets such as east-west Labadie, which runs parallel to St. Louis Avenue one block to the south of here.

There is an older Queen Anne Style house in the middle, with later houses like one would see in South St. Louis on either side. The topography becomes more rugged, as well, as we move west away from the Grand Prairie.

It also becomes difficult to tell which houses are occupied and which ones are not.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Janet Johnson says:

    I was born and raised in around the Ville but moved to Virginia as a teenager in the late sixties. I recently came back for a visit. I was deeply saddened at what I saw!

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      It is indeed very sad to see, even for someone like me who did not see the neighborhood in its prime.

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