Locale and Topography
Covering a broad section in the heart of North St. Louis is the Fairground area, stretching westward from Glasgow Avenue to Kingshighway and reaching northward from St. Louis Avenue to its northern boundary along Interstate 70 and Florissant Avenue. Generally, the land has a gradual rise toward the west, with the exception of a valley of a former branch of Gingras Creek, which takes a northeasterly direction through the area's mid-section.
Most of the area was originally the northern portion of the Grand Prairie Commonfield, composed of a series of narrow eastwest strips laid out by the French for agricultural use. This commonfield portion extended from the present St. Louis Avenue on the south to Carter Avenue on the north and was bordered by Grand Boulevard on the east and by Marcus and Newstead Avenues on the west. Remainder of the areas was comprised of several former land grants designated as surveys. Ownership of both the commonfield strips and the surveys was first held in the name of French colonial land holders. For example, the long strip between Natural Bridge and Ashland Avenues, running westward from Grand, was designated as U.S. Survey #1261 originally owned by Richlet Verdon and later by John Watkins. Between Grand and Glasgow, was a similar survey, #658, which was acquired by Watkins from Jean Marie Cardenal, and extended northward from present Montgomery Street to Florissant Avenue. North of Natural Bridge and west of Newstead was survey #422, extending beyond Kingshighway and originally owned by Auguste Dodier. A portion of survey #458 was north of this, reaching beyond Florissant Avenue, called the Clamorgan-Brazeau tract.
By 1850, the larger surveys had been subdivided into tracts, then mostly rural, held by many prominent St. Louisans. Jesse Lindell owned one of these which reached along the south side of the Natural Bridge Plank Road from present Glasgow Avenue to Clay Avenue. West of this was the Old Orchard tract, held in the name of Henry Clay, the Kentucky statesman. The future site of the fairgrounds was the property of Colonel John O'Fallon, and to its west, extending to Euclid Avenue, was the farm of Captain J. M. White. North of this were properties of Elizabeth Hull, Peter Vandeventer, Walker B. Carter, and Henry M. Shreve. Earliest residential subdivision to be platted in the area as White Place, bounded by Natural Bridge, White (now Newstead), Margaretta and Fair Avenues. It was a portion of the J. M. White farm, owned by the well-known riverman, and was platted in 1859. Other early subdivisions were North Cote Brilliante (1861), Lindell's Additions (1860), Chouteau Place (1875), and James B. Clay's Subdivision of the Old Orchard Tract (1876). Sections of the area nearest to the Fairgrounds developed early, beginning in the late 1860s, especially those east of Grand Avenue. Further west, the urban build-up began in the 1880s and was well along by the turn of the century. After 1900, the area south of O'Fallon Park began to develop in such subdivisions as O'Fallon Heights, Plymouth Park and Wanstrath Place. West of Marcus and north of Natural Bridge was a district developed by the 1920s. One of the last subdivisions in the Fairground area was San Francisco Court, opened in 1957. This area's relatively rapid development was obviously aided by good transit facilities leading to such area attractions as the old Fairgrounds and the baseball parks in its vicinity.
The St. Louis Fair
The history of fairs and exhibitions of agricultural and mechanical subjects in St. Louis began at a very early date. Various fair societies were formed as early as 1822, but none of them was permanent. In November, 1841, a county fair was opened at the St. Louis racecourse at the same time a Mechanics Fair was held in buildings on Fourth Street in front of the Planters' House. Combination of these interests for the purpose of holding annual fairs was agitated for some years, culminating in the incorporation of the St. Louis Agricultural and Mechanical Association on December 7, 1855. Leader of the fair movement was Colonel J. Richard Barrett, a local member of the state legislature, aided by civic figures such as John O'Fallon, Andrew Christy, Thornton Grimsley, John Withnell, and Gerard B. Allen. Stock in the venture was not intended to pay dividends and profits were used to expand and beautify the enterprise. After a full subscription of stock was achieved, a board of directors was elected in May, 1856. It was decided to hold a fair in the following autumn and a site of 50 acres at the northwest corner of Grand Avenue and the Natural Bridge Plank Road was purchased from Colonel John O'Fallon for $50,000. This site was chosen due to its proximity to the water works, thereby providing an adequate supply for fountains and other needs. A nine foot fence was erected around the site and construction was pushed so that the fair was opened on October 13, 1856. Principal fair buildings then were an amphitheater, mechanics building, floral hall, machine shop, and livestock stalls. The fair was a success, with succeeding ones increasing in scope, gate receipts and premium prizes. In September, 1860, prior to the opening of that year's fair, 150,000 persons jammed the grounds to see the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII of England. It was said that a rather tipsy Miasouri governor, Robert M. Stewart, slapped the Prince upon the back and inquired, "What do you think of all this, Prince? Now don't you wish you were Governor of Missouri?"
The fair of 1860 was the last to be held before the Civil war, during which the fairgrounds and buildings were requisitioned by the army as Benton Barracks, a training area and hospital for federal troops. Fairs were resumed in 1866 and soon exceeded their predecessors in size and attendance. In 1870 a new, larger amphitheater was constructed and used for horse shows and sulky racing. The old one was converted into a display area for manufactured goods and textiles, until it was razed in 1876. In 1874, when Julius S. Walsh was elected as president of the fair, excepting Fair Week, the grounds were thrown open to the public for daily use as a park. By that time, the grounds had expanded into an area of 83 acres and several new buildings were erected under Walsh's regime. These included an Art Gallery, Natural History museum and the Zoological Gardens. The Zoo was very comprehensive for its day and included separate buildings for the display of birds, monkeys, deer, bears, reptiles, as well as paddocks for outdoor animal exhibits. The bearpits structure is all that now remains of the once famous Fair. A large Mechanical Hall was opened in 1876, being the largest building on the grounds, with dimensions of 150 by 250 feet. Another development was an art school in conjunction with the gallery. During its prime in the late 1870s, the St. Louis Fair had an international reputation combining the features of an agricultural fair with a metropolitan display. No other city in America could boast of such an annual spectacle during those times. Between 1856 and 1883, more than one million dollars had been spent on improvements and buildings at the Fair and in the latter year average daily attendance was 40,000 and $50,000 was distributed in premium awards.
After the mid-eighties, the Fair began to lose some of its previous public popularity when emphasis was placed upon horse racing. This started in 1883, when the Jockey Club was organized with racing on an old half mile track. In 1885, a new mile track was opened, with a grandstand seating 15,000 and an elaborate new club building. The racing attracted a different class of people, totally unlike the family groups which had hitherto patronized the Fair.
Another factor in the Fair's decline was the opening of the Exposition Building downtown, on the present site of the Public Library, in 1884. The Exposition, which was open for 40 days each fall, presenting the novelty of a large indoor exhibit was so convenient that many of the Fair's patrons visited it instead. In addition to the Exposition, the Fair had generated the Fall Festivities during the 1870s. Among features of the Festivities were elaborate street illuminations, begun in 1870 and the Veiled Prophet Parade and Ball, which started in 1878. By 1900, when the Fair had flourished for more than four decades, the citizenry decided that St. Louis had outgrown an agricultural exhibition. Last of the Fairs was held in 1902 when auto racing was tried as an innovation on the race track. By that time, the Fair was forgotten in the midst of preparations for the World's Fair of 1904. A further deterrent to later revival of the Fair was the banishing of horse racing in Missouri in 1905. The Exposition Building was razed in 1907 and only the Veiled Prophet remains from the old Fall Festivities.
After the demise of the St. Louis Fair in 1902, its 132 acre grounds, buildings and race tracks (after 1905) laid in abandonment until 1908 when the City purchased it for park use for $700,000. Fairground Park was dedicated in 1909 with appropriate ceremonies after the Fair's structures had been removed. About 1912, the former location of the circular amphitheater was rebuilt into what was then the world's largest swimming pool, with an area of five acres.
This was a rather prosaic ending to the Fairgrounds which had hosted Presidents Grant, Cleveland, and Harrison and had attracted over 80,000 persons on its featured Big Thursday of Fair Week for many years. This was so, because that day was declared a municipal holiday in 1856, and was looked forward to by generations of school children. Long remembered was that occasion in 1859, when it rained steadily for twenty hours and thousands of women and children were marooned on the grounds until the next day. Another notable event in the park's history occurred in October, 1911, when the first air mail in the world was flown there from Kinloch. Fairground Park was considerably improved as a result of the 1955 bond issue which provided lighted ball diamonds, hard surface tennis courts and a rebuilt swimming pool with a new field house. Today, the park continues to function as the outstanding north side recreation area that it has been for so many years.
A major park on the area's western edge is Penrose, at Kingshighway Boulevard and Penrose Avenue. This fifty acre recreational area was acquired by the City in 1910 for $165,000. Other public parks within the Fairground area are W. C. Handy Park, bounded by Euclid, Ashland, Lexington and Shreve Avenues, and Union-Marcus Quarry Park at the north east corner of Marcus and Margaretta Avenues. Adjacent to the area, across West Florissant Avenue, is O'Fallon Park, the other large northside recreational open space. When it was acquired by the City in 1875, the park had an area of 158 acres. It was the northern member of the trio of parks purchased by the City before its limits were extended to include them. The other two were Forest and Carondelet Parks. Named for Col. John O'Fallon, the park was originally a part of his estate along Bellefontaine Road. In 1917, the Catholic Archdiocese donated the 8-1/2 acre site of the former New Bremen Cemetery, as an addition to the park on its western side. Right-of-way for the Mark Twain Expressway reduced the park's area by 32 acres in 1954.
A private recreational facility in the area is the Herbert Hoover Boy's Club at Grand and Dodier, opened in 1967. It was the site of old Busch Stadium, formerly Sportsman's Park, which was donated for use as the Boy's Club site by Anheuser-Busch and August A. Busch, Jr. in early 1966. The Club was built after a spirited fund raising campaign and features a gynmasium and swimming pool in a club building on the southeast corner of the eight acre site. Balance of the site is used for outdoor recreation activities.
Old Sportsman's Park and its predecessors had been the site of baseball grounds for over a century. It was first used as such soon after the Civil War and only a few years after the game was introduced in St. Louis by Jere Fruin in 1860. The first ball park there was built by August Solari in 1871 as the Grand Avenue Ball Grounds. By 1875, it was known as the St. Louis Baseball Park and featured a fenced field and a small grandstand seating 800 persons. Its name was changed to Sportsman's Park in 1876 when it became the home of the charter member National League Club known as the Browns. The team, headed by John R. Lucas, was socalled from the color of their stockings. This club was a short lived venture, dropping out of the league after the 1878 season. For several years the park was used for German shooting meets and for cycle racing.
In 1882, the park was taken over by Chris Von der Ahe, a northside politician who ran a saloon at Grand and St. Louis Avenues. At first, he ran the ball park as a sideline, an outlet for beer sales from his nearby saloon. Von der Ahe sponsored his club in the American Association, then a major league, with the assistance of Al Spink, co-founder of the Sporting News. His team, called the Browns, had as its manager, Charles Comiskey, later founder of the Chicago White Sox. Under "der Poss President", as Von her Ahe was known, and Comiskey, the Browns won four pennants in a row from 1885 to 1888. When the American Association disbanded in 1892, Von der Ahe acquired a franchise in the expanded twelve team National League and moved the team from Sportsman's Park to a new ball park at Natural Bridge and Vandeventer Avenues. This was a good location across the street from the Fairgrounds race track. Here, the colorful Von der Ahe operated an amusement park in conjunction with the ball park, attracting public attention with parades and fire works. The nineties proved to be declining years for Von der Ahe's fortune as fire destroyed part of the ball park and in 1898 he was forced out as president of the ball club. The team was sold to the Robison brothers of Cleveland, who brought their team here and re-named it the Cardinals, dropping the Browns name. Renamed Robison Field, the Vandeventer Avenue ball park remained the home of the Cardinals until 1920, When, after another fire, they moved to Sportsman's Park as tenants of the Browns. This site became the location of Beaumont High School in 1925.
Meanwhile, Sportsman's Park was used for cycle races other sports until 1902, when it became the home of the St. Louis Browns of the new American League. Robert Lee Hedges, owner of the new team, operated it successfully and a few years later he built a new grandstand at the park, enlarging its seating capacity to 18,000. In 1925, under owner Phil Ball, the park was again enlarged with a double deck stadium and a new pavilion to reach a capacity of about 32,000. The enlarged park proved to be more beneficial to its tenants, the Cardinals, than to its owners, the Browns, as in 1926 the Red Birds won their first pennant and World Series. Under various owners, the Browns continued to occupy Sportsman's Park until 1953, when the franchise was moved to Baltimore. The team had nearly won the pennant in 1922 and were successful in 1944, only to lose the "trolley car series" to the Cardinals, who won many pennants in the old ball park. Anheuser-Busch acquired both the Cardinals and Sportsman's Park in 1953 and then changed its name to Busch Stadium. The Cardinals occupied old Busch Stadium until 1966, when they moved to the new downtown stadium of the same name. After demolition of the old ball park, only memories remained of the scene of the exploits of the famous Gas House Gang and the Stan Musial.
North St. Louis in 1875
An interesting overview of North St. Louis and the Fairground area in 1875 is provided by Compton and Dry's pictorial atlas of St. Louis, drawn from an aerial perspective. At this period, twenty years after the establishment of the St. Louis Fair, the area was still largely rural with intermittent groups of houses in scattered developed sections. The most intensive buildup was in the section north of St. Louis Avenue to the Fairgrounds and west of Grand to Prairie Avenue. It had been subdivided in the 1850s as Page and McPherson's Suburban Lots and as Jesse Lindell's First Addition. Within it were such landmarks as Chris Von der Ahe's saloon and the St. Louis Baseball Park. West of Prairie Avenue are shown fenced farm lands and orchards with groups of houses at Clay and Ashland Avenues and along the northside of Natural Bridge Road west of the Fairgrounds. A settlement of small houses is shown on Lambdin Avenue between Ashland and Labadie. The Fair itself was in its prime period in the middle 70s and its grounds are shown as well occupied by two amphitheaters, numerous buildings and with a half mile track in its western portion. North of the Fairgrounds and on both sides of Grand Avenue, several lakes and sink holes are to be seen amid a scattered mixture of industrial and residential structures. Beyond this area, westward, are the large estates of Walker R. Carter and Benjamin O'Fallon, with large Victorian mansions set in wooded areas of farm lands and orchards. East of Grand Avenue at St. Louis and Glasgow is a landscaped area called Lindell Park, reaching several blocks northward. North of it, as far as Davis (now Palm) Street, are farm lands and a narrow lake. A well built up neighborhood of medium sized houses is shown between Davis and Natural Bridge Road. North of this is an area with streets along which are rows of trees, but no houses. Two or three blocks of houses are in a tract southwest of Glasgow and Kossuth Avenues. North of Kossuth is the large plant of the Union Press Brick Works and beyond it is another open area with a series of small lakes. In the western part of the Fairground area, along Natural Bridge Road, the best developed subdivisions in 1875 were White Place and North Cote Brilliante. Two of the largest estates in the latter area were those of James Patrick and John Hogan. On the east side of Papin (Marcus) Avenue, north of St. Louis was the Union Chapel and north of it, at Greer Avenue, was the large house of Captain William Blake. Southeast of Natural Bridge to Kingshighway, in North Cote Brilliante, is a well built-up section of stores and houses along Natural Bridge, near the horse car line terminus. North from there, along the east side of Kingshighway, were several farm estates and at Florence and White Avenues, now Newstead and San Francisco, is the Ashland public school. At the northwest corner of White and Margaretta, the large mansard roofed house of Rollin Richmond is shown set among a grove of trees. Between it and the Shreve homestead, about at the present intersection of Taylor and Penrose, is an area of cultivated fields. North of that, to Florissant, is shown a large and well wooded uncultivated area. A landmark at the southwest corner of Kingshighway and Natural bridge was a hotel called the Four Mile House. From this description it can be seen that the Fairground area of a century ago, at about the time it became a part of the City of St. Louis, was already on the verge of attaining its later state of development.
As in many other neighborhoods, streets in the Fairground area memorialize early land owners. Prominent among such streets are Marcus and Shreve Avenues. The former is named after Marcus A. Wolff, who owned property in Cote Brilliante suburb. Henry Miller Shreve, the well-known riverman and Steamboat estate in this section. His neighbor, Walker R. Carter, is similarly honored with a street name. The Fairground area is bisected by its principal thoroughfare, Natural Bridge Avenue, named for a stone arch over nearby Rocky Branch Creek. Some of the original early French landholders are commemorated by present day street names. Among them are Hebert Street, named after the Widow Hebert, whose husband was killed in the Indian attack on St. Louis in 1780.
Others are streets named for Sylvester Labadie and Auguste Dodier. Later land owners of English, Irish and German descent are represented by streets named after William L. Glasgow, Clement B. Penrose, Peter L. Vandeventer, Elizabeth Hull and James B. Clay. Clay, the son of the statesman, Henry Clay, named two streets in his subdivision after Ashland, the family home in Kentucky, and Lexington, his home town. John and Gano Avenues were titled with the given names of J. G. Bryan, whose surname at one time graced a part of Prairie Avenue. Around Fairground Park is Kossuth Avenue, for the Hungarian patriot and Fair Avenue, so-called as the western edge of the old fairgrounds. Athlone Avenue is named for the ancestral Irish home of the father of Colonel John O'Fallon and nearby Holly and Red Bud Avenues also indicate his floral preference. In the area to the east of Fairground Park, streets such as Barrett, Bailey and Peck commemorate early landholders in that section.
St. Engelbert's parish in the northeastern portion of St. Louis was founded out of part of the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in 1891. At that time, the area was largely occupied by truck gardens and dairy farms. Founder of the parish was Rev. Anthony Pauck and the congregation's first meeting took place at the home of a parishioner on March 30, 1891. A six acre site at Shreve and Carter Avenues was purchased and on November 22, 1891, the first church on the site was dedicated. The surrounding neighborhood grew rapidly after the installation of streets and sewers. The present church was built in 1927 from Tudor Gothic designs by architect Henry P. Hess. It is of matt brick with Bedford stone trim and has a bell tower 97 feet high. The marble altar has two large mosaic panels representing the sacrifices on each side of it and is surmounted by a representation of the crucifixion. St. Engelbert's parochial school was organized soon after the church and presently occupies a building at 4720 Carter Avenue, which was completed in 1930.
Most Holy Rosary parish was organized in July, 1891, by Rev. Daniel J. Lavery. The first church, a small brick structure, was blessed by Vicar General Brady on December 20, 1891. About the same time, the parochial school was founded and placed in charge of the Sisters of St. Joseph. It had an enrollment of 230 in 1909. The present Holy Rosary Church, at the southwest corner of Margaretta and Clarence Avenues, was dedicated by Archbishop Glennon in 1923. It is early English Gothic in style and has a square battlemented tower which is reminiscent of medieval times. Holy Rosary parochial school now occupies a building at 4320-26 Marqaretta Avenue.
Memorial Boulevard Christian Church at Kingshighway and Labadie Avenue was formed in 1929 as the result of a merger of the Kingshighway and Second Christian churches. The Second Church had purchased a new site at Lee and Cora Avenues in 1928, but since this was so close to the Kingshighway Church it was decided to join the two churches in the present building. Kingshighway Church had built the structure in 1918 when it moved from its former location at Marcus Avenue and Hammett Place, where it was known as the Hammett Place Church.
The need for an English Evangelical church in St. Louis was strongly felt about the turn of the century as most services were conducted in German. In October 1901, such a mission was organized with services at the Central Y.M.C.A. at Grand and Franklin. In December 1901, the congregation moved to Garfield Hall at 13th and Wright Streets. This mission was the forerunner of Bethel Evangelical Church, whose site at Garrison and Greer Avenues was purchased in 1902. Construction began in 1904 with completion of the Gothic style edifice in 1908. In 1931, Bethel Church was the second largest of its denomination in the City. About 1963, the church, now known as Bethel United Church of Christ, moved to 14700 New Halls Ferry Road. Its old building is now the home of the Fairfax Baptist Church.
St. John's United Church of Christ at Grand Boulevard and Lee Avenue had its beginning in 1852 when a small group of Germans rented a former Baptist Church at 12th and O'Fallon Streets. In 1854, they purchased a site for their own church at the southeast corner of 14th and Madison Streets, and a brick Gothic structure was completed there in 1855. During the pastorale of Rev. Louis Haeberle (1862-79) a parochial school was started, but was discontinued in 1913. About that time the neighborhood around the old church underwent changes, necessitating removal to a new location. In 1916, the present site was acquired, but the new church was not completed until 1923. It is built of rough faced brick with terra cotta trim and seats about 500 persons. Bethany Evangelical Church, which was located at Red Bud and Rosalie Avenues for many years, was organized in 1867 in a hall at 22nd Street and Franklin Avenue. It later worshipped in a small chapel at 24th and Carr Streets and on March 14, 1875, dedicated its own church at 23rd and Wash Streets. This area had changed by 1914 and in that year the site on Rosalie Avenue was purchased. Dedication of the new Tudor Gothic Church occurred on January 10, l915. In 1970, Bethany United Church of Christ merged with Peace Church and moved to 11952 Bellefontaine Road. The old building is now occupied by the Northern Baptist Church.
In 1885, the Salem Evangelical Church was organized and began services the next year in a house at Marcus and Margaretta Avenues. The congregation occupied a new church building at Shreve and Margaretta in October, 1898. This structure was occupied until May, 1962, when the present Salem Evangelical and Reformed Church at 2490 Pohlman Avenue in Florissant was dedicated. St. Peter's A.M.E. Church presently occupies Salem Church's old building.
Immanuel Lutheran Church, at Marcus and Lexington Avenues was formed in 1847 as an offshoot from Trinity Church. Its first church was erected in the next year at Eleventh Street and Franklin Avenue. In 1865, the original frame Immanuel Church was destroyed by fire and three years later their second edifice was dedicated at 16th and Morgan Streets. This was a brick Gothic building with a 200 foot high spire. Encroachments of business in the neighborhood made a westward move necessary by 1919. A chapel was built at the present site on the grounds of the Western Lutheran Cemetery and dedicated on July 25, 1920. The present church was completed in 1928 and is a clerestory type dominated by a massive tower. Immanuel School was started in 1844 at Seventh and Cole Streets and later met in the Franklin Avenue church's basement and also had its own building at the Morgan Street location. Western Lutheran Cemetery, adjacent to the present church, was originally laid out in 1863.
Members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church who resided in the Fairground district, petitioned for a mission in their area in 1870. A school was soon opened and in 1872 a lot at Natural Bridge and Spring was purchased. A frame chapel was erected and in July, 1874, the mission there was organized as Bethany Church. The chapel was used jointly with Grace Church until that congregation moved to Wellston in 1879. Soon thereafter, the present site at Natural Bridge and Clay Avenue was purchased and an imposing Gothic church was dedicated there in 1883. Bethany Lutheran's present church was completed in September, 1929. During construction, services were held in the adjoining gymnasium, erected in 1927. The new church is a fine example of the clerestory Gothic type, built of brick with limestone trim. Its school is located at 3621 Clay Avenue. Another Lutheran church of long-standing in the Fairground area is Pilgrim, which has been situated at Fair and West Florissant Avenues since about 1910.
Bowman United Methodist Church at Carter and Athlone Avenues had its beginning in 1879, when a mission was opened in a tent at Allen's Grove on Broadway near East Grand Avenue. Advent of cold weather caused the mission group to rent a German Presbyterian church on 19th Street south of Grand Avenue, and the name of Water Tower M. E. Church was adopted. In 1881, a lot at the northwest corner of 20th and Obear was acquired and a brick Gothic church was erected. A move to a larger church at Grand and Carter was made in 1904, at which time the name was changed to honor Bishop John W. Bowman. As many members subsequently moved westward into the O'Fallon Park district, the need for a move in that direction became apparent. The present site was purchased and despite some financial difficulty, the church was completed in May, 1920.
The Sixth Church of Christ Scientist originally worshipped in Mount Moriah Masonic Hall at Natural Bridge and Garrison, occupying its present building at 3736 Natural Bridge in the late 1920s.
Among other Protestant churches in the Fairground area is the Cote Brilliante Presbyterian, which has been located at Marcus and Labadie since before 1904 and the Eastern Star Baptist Church at 3121 St. Louis Avenue.
Before 1876, when the area west of the Fairgrounds became a part of the City of St. Louis, only one public school existed within that large district. This was the Ashland School at Florence and White Avenues, now San Francisco and Newstead. It was listed by the Board of Education as being on Bridgeton Road one mile west of Grand Avenue and was a three story brick building of six rooms with a capacity of 360 pupils. Apparently built about 1870 by the, then, suburban school district, it served its area until the present Ashland School at 3921 Newstead was opened on the same in 1909.
Two schools were opened within the Fairground area during the nineties. These were the Benjamin Harrison School at 4163 Green Lea Place in 1896, with additions in 1899 and 1905, and the William G. Eliot School at 4242 Grove Street in 1895. Architects for the Harrison building were Kirchner and Kirchner and for Eliot, William B. Ittner.
Ittner was also the designer of the David G. Farragut School at 4025 Sullivan Avenue in 1905, the new Ashland School in 1909 and the Yeatman High School.
Increasing enrollment at Central High School at the turn of the century made necessary the construction of two additional secondary schools. These were McKinley and Yeatman, the latter on the north side at Garrison and Natural Bridge. James E. Yeatman High School, named for the St. Louis philanthropist, was opened in September, 1904. It served as the only north side high school until it was replaced by Beaumont in 1926, then becoming an intermediate school, until Central High moved into it in late 1927 after destruction of Central's old building by the tornado of September 29, 1927. Central has continued to occupy the old Yeatman building since that time.
William Beaumont High School, namesake of the early St. Louis surgeon, was opened at 3836 Natural Bridge Avenue in January, 1926. It had a capacity of 3500 students and was erected at a cost of more than $1,500,000, from plans by architect R. M. Milligan.
Other elementary schools in the area are John Scullin at 4160 North Kingshighway, built in 1928; Ashland Branch at 4415 Margaretta (1934), Philip J. Hickey, named for the former superintendent of schools, at 3111 Cora Avenue in 1965; a new Yeatman School at 4265 Athlone in 1967 and two Farragut branches, No. 1 at 4130 Lexington and No. 2 at 3000 Prairie, both completed in 1968.
Christian Hospital at 4411 North Newstead Avenue, later known as the Christian Medical Center, was founded in 1903 by Mrs. Fannie H. S. Ayars, who was affiliated with the First Christian Church. The hospital was organized to provide medical care for residents of a Mother's and Babies' Home founded by Mrs. Ayars four years previously. These institutions were both located in an old brick residence at 2821 Lawton Avenue. After meeting many early problems, the hospital moved to larger quarters at 2949 North Euclid in 1907 and moved again in 1910 to the old Centenary Hospital building at 2945 Lawton. In 1914, the institution occupied its own building for the first time, in a former sanitarium at 3540 North Grand Boulevard. The building on North Newstead was completed in 1924, with an addition erected in 1962. In 1968, in line with the movement of urban decentralization, a branch hospital, Christian Northwest, was opened in St. LouisCounty. Another county branch, Christian Northeast, was opened in 1976. The name of the building on North Newstead Avenue was changed in 1974. It is now owned by the Central Medical Center which plans to rehabilitate it as an acute care hospital.
Another institution of the Christian Church on the north side is the St. Louis Christian Home at 3033 North Euclid Avenue, which was founded in 1887 as the Christian Orphans Home at 1335 Bayard Avenue. It was located at 915 Aubert Avenue in 1900 and moved to its present location in 1907. The home was enlarged in 1923 and adopted its present name in 1946.
Faith Hospital was opened at 3300 North Kingshighway in 1950 and was enlarged in 1956. In 1969, a move was made to 12634 Olive Street Road in St. Louis County and until 1973 both institutions were jointly operated. Since that time, the building on Kingshighway has been known as the Central Medical Center.
Originally founded in 1877 in a house near 17th and Chouteau, the German-General Protestant Orphans Home was founded by a group of German-Americans to fulfill the need for such a home for their families. In the late 1880s, the home relocated at a rural site on Natural Bridge Road near Newstead. It occupied this site, at 4447 Natural Bridge, until 1962 when the institution removed to its present location at 12685 Olive Street Road in Creve Coeur.
After a career of nearly 35 years as a north side Roman Catholic secondary educational institution, De Andreis High School closed its doors early in 1976 because of declining enrollment. It began in 1942 as North Side Catholic High School for boys in conjunction with Laboure girl's high school in the latter's building at 5421 Thekla Avenue. The boy's school moved into the newly completed De Andreis 4275 Clarence Avenue, in 1947. Operated by the Brothers of Mary, the school was named for Rev. Felix De Andreis, an early St. Louis Catholic educator. In 1952, both De Andreis and Laboure became co-educational and remained so until 1965 when they reverted to their former singular status.
Another recently closed north St. Louis institution was the North Side Y.M.C.A. which occupied a large building on the northeast corner of Grand Boulevard and Sullivan Avenue since 1919. Prior to that, it was located at 1909 St. Louis Avenue since the turn of the century. Nearby was the Mount Moriah Masonic Hall, a structure in the Egyptian style of architecture, that was erected in 1903. It is now occupied by the Martin's Temple Church of God in Christ. Wesley House Community Center has been located at 4507 Lee Avenue since 1951.
The Divoll Branch public library occupied a new building at 4234 North Grand Boulevard in 1966 after relocating from their former structure in the Hyde Park area. A new branch library at 4666 Natural Bridge Avenue is named in honor of Julia Davis, a distinguished black educator.
East of Grand Boulevard is an older section of two and four family flats with a minor mixture of single family dwellings. Most of these date from the 1890-1920 period end are in varying stages of deterioration due to age and inadequate maintenance. West of Grand and south of Fairground Park the housing stock dates from 1900-20, primarily flats, many of which have been demolished. Single family dwellings have been converted into rooming houses. Overall the appearance was one of deteriorated buildings and vacant lots. South west of Fairground Park, the residential character is similar to the area east of it in general appearance. It consists largely of two and four family units with some apartments scattered throughout, mostly brick structures built before 1920. North of Natural Bridge and west of Taylor is an area which is predominantly single family in character. Most are well maintained and were built in the 1920s and 1930s, and have a high percentage of owner occupancy. To the east of the area described above is an older residential section, with houses reasonably well maintained and primarily single family with pockets of flats and a few apartment buildings. North of Fairground Park is a declining older neighborhood, mostly built before 1920. Many are two and four family flats, some single family dwellings, the houses mostly built of brick but with a high incidence of frame structures. The entire area is now largely composed of black residents, a population trend which has increased significantly since 1960.
There is a concentration of commercial uses along Grand Boulevard northward from St. Louis Avenue to Natural Bridge and again north for Kossuth to Florissant. The importance has diminished due to crime and vandalism, a condition which is prevalent in most commercial sections of the Fairground area. Not much new commercial construction exists except for drive-in facilities. A better established commercial strip along Natural Bridge west of Fair Avenue, is anchored by the bank and medical buildings near Newstead Avenue. The former Fairgrounds Hotel at Natural Bridge and Spring Avenue has been converted into a home for the aged, while further west on Natural Bridge at Euclid Avenue is the Northwestern Hotel. Secondary commercial concentrations are along Taylor Avenue and at Newstead and St. Louis Avenues. There is a minor commercial strip along Kigshighway and north of Natural Bridge on Shreve Avenue. In the north sector of the area there is considerable commercial development along West Florissant Avenue from Grand to beyond Warne Avenue and smaller centers, such as the one at Newstead and Penrose Avenues, within the area, Development of the commercial uses took place simultaneously with the residential neighborhoods, both being dependent upon accessibility of public transit.
Minor manufacturing uses are scattered throughout the area with the exception of the district southwest of O'Fallon Park. In older parts of the area, some of these have been converted into storage type industries. The largest industrial concentration surrounds the Carter Carburetor plant near Grand and St. Louis Avenues.
Transit service was developed quite intensively at an early date in the eastern part of this area because of traffic generators such as the Fairgrounds and the baseball parks. During the late 1850s, horse drawn omnibuses were used to transport the crowds to the Fair and these were superseded by horse cars on rails about 1860.
Principal routes from the city center to the Fairgrounds were lines on Franklin Avenue or on Olive Street with a transfer to a branch line on North Grand Avenue. When the fairs were resumed after the Civil War, direct service to the grounds became available on the Citizens Railway and on the Union Depot Railroad line. On the Citizens line from Fourth Street and Franklin Avenue, it required 35 minutes to reach the southeast gate at the Fairgrounds. The fare was seven cents straight or five tickets for a quarter. Horse cars continued to be the mode of public transit to the Fairground area until the early 1890's when electric trolley cars were introduced. This development led to the construction of electric lines on both old and new routes. Among those built then were the Grand, Vandeventer, Sarah, Taylor, Natural Bridge, Cass, Lee and Bellefontaine lines, all of which served various parts of the area.
After the closing of the Fair in 1902, traffic generated by the ball parks and newly opened theaters helped the Grand and Vandeventer lines, while the others benefited from concurrent residential construction.
The street railway network was not extended beyond its mileage peak of 1910. Increased service to the Fairground area, as well as to other parts of the City, was provided by motorbus lines in the 1930s. Some of this service paralleled streetcar tracks as by the People's Motorbus Company's North Grand line and to some extent by their Walnut Park line on Florissant Avenue. A bus line operated by a subsidiary of the United Railways ran through the western part of this area on Bircher, Shreve and Natural Bridge Avenues. Present day service is solely by motorbus, as the area's streetcar lines were abandoned bv the 1950s.
Scharf, J. Thomas - "History of St. Louis City and County" - 1883
Stevens, Walter B. - "St. Louis - The Fourth City" - 1909
Compton, Richard J. and Dry, Camille N. - "Pictorial St. Louis" - 1875
City Plan Commission - "St. Louis Development Program" - 1973
St. Louis Board of Aldermen - "Rapid Transit for St. Louis" 1926
Love, Robertus - "The St. Louis Fair" - St. Louis Globe Democrat - July 31, 1927
Herman, Jack - "Old Stadium is Rich in Memories" - St. Louis Globe Democrat - January 28, 1966
Terry, Dickson - "Browns - Rich in Tradition" - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - March 22, 1953