Update: I revisited Raymond Avenue in the spring of 2021.
I’ve long said that I think the architecture of North St. Louis is more impressive than that of South St. Louis, and I stand by that. I know many of my friends in the preservation business who agree with me.
Likewise, I’ve also written extensively about how old residents have told me the so-called Central West End was a mid-century creation (confirmed by my analysis of old newspapers), carved out of the large West End neighborhood which stretched all the way to the city limits, and it was redlining that declared that the portion south of Delmar would be allowed to get home loans, and the portion north would not. Bizarrely, I even hear some people call the Central West End “South St. Louis” sometimes.
All of that, however, did not prepare me for the utterly stunning houses I found on the Vernon and Raymond Avenues just east of Union Avenue in what is technically the city-designated “Academy” neighborhood but is really the West End.
These streets are the heart of the African American middle class in St. Louis, where city leaders and employees live, and where the future health of the city lies.
Even with redlining, they forged ahead, bought these houses, and have kept them well-maintained. But what will the future hold?
This turreted house below has an identical friend down the block; it is stunning, even with new roof shingles replacing what were probably originally cedar or even terracotta.
These amazing side streets can be missed, because main drags such as Page Avenue are beaten up, and hide the gems hidden back off the high trafficked arteries.