Four years after I first covered Vandeventer Place, there still is a paucity of information and photographs of what was once the grandest private street in St. Louis. I only could find a couple of grainy postcards that preserve the appearance of the once august street.
I often tell people that if even Vandeventer Place (or Gaslight Square, for that matter) isn’t safe from decline and the wrecking ball, then none of our built environment should be taken for granted.
I drove up Spring Avenue recently, and when I passed through the block where Vandeventer Place once stood, I took a photo to the right and to the left. It is hard to believe that even just sixty years ago Richardsonian Romanesque mansions and Second Empire houses once stood. Instead, I saw a chain-link fence blocking one of the ugliest buildings in St. Louis, the Veterans’ Hospital…
…and on the other side, a forlorn and rapidly deteriorating “youth services facility,” or as one of my students who works there calls it, the teen jail.