Compton Heights


The Compton Heights subdivision, embracing Hawthorne and Longfellow Boulevards and adjacent blocks between Grand and Nebraska was laid out in 1888 by Julius Pitzman to correct errors he made in designing Vandeventer Place. Several unique features were incorporated into his design. These include gracefully curved streets to create a pleasant vista and reduce traffic flow. The residential deed restrictions, the first in Missouri, insure private family use of each residence and establish a common setback for each home. This zoning principle, which is now widely accepted, was a new concept at the time and was not upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court for almost three decades. Although well established by the turn of the century, the largest flurry of construction in Compton Heights centered around the St. Louis World's Fair. Many of St. Louis' first families settled in this area corporate leaders of Anheuser-Busch, Falstaff, Magic Chef, Monsanto Corporation, and Pet Incorporated were among early founders. A number of the homes still remain in the families of the original builders some 75-90 years later.

Homes in Reservoir Square, an area near Compton Hill Reservoir which developed geographic identity with I-44 construction, dates from the 1860's. Although many structures had become rooming houses, there has been vigorous restoration efforts recently with the majority of structures now returning to attractive single family use.

To the south of it is an area of smaller one and two family dwellings, which are generally owner occupied and well maintained. Large houses may be found on a few streets running eastward from Grand to the north of Arsenal Street. East of this district as far as Jefferson Avenue is an area of single family houses with a scattering of a few flats that were built between 1890 and 1910. There is a low percentage of owner occupancy in this section as is also the case in the area north of Lafayette Avenue to Park Avenue, west of Jefferson. In the latter mentioned area most of the housing was built before 1900, principally two and four family flats. They are generally of poor quality and maintenance, many lacking inside plumbing.

The black occupancy in the area increased from one-third in 1960 to two-thirds in 1970. There are many vacant vandalized buildings here with many demolition's particularly due to highway 44 construction.

A broad renovation effort in this area has been begun by the redevelopment project known as Lafayette Towne. Sponsored by the Home Builders Association of Greater St. Louis, it will ultimately contain a wide variety of new and rehabilitated residential structures ranging from single family dwellings to high density apartments in a harmonious style. The project site is bounded generally by Interstate 44, Compton Avenue, LaSalle Street and Jefferson Avenue, and will feature cul-de-sac streets and internal commercial areas, parks, schools and churches.