Grand Prairie


An educational and commercial enterprise of landmark status in the Ville area was Poro College. It was tangible evidence of the success of a line of beauty products for blacks that was founded by Mrs. Annie T. P. Malone. After beginning on a small scale, Mrs. Malone opened Poro College in 1917 at Pendleton and St. Ferdinand Avenues. It was a school to train agents to distribute the Poro line worldwide, as well as a manufacturing plant and a social center for its community. After the 1927 tornado, which caused widespread damage in this part of the city, Poro College aided many storm victims as a relief unit of the Red Cross.

Expansion of the business required its removal to Chicago in 1930 and the three story building became a hotel in 1931. Still later it was used by the Lincoln Law School and its site is now occupied by the James House for the elderly.

Mrs. Malone is well remembered in the Ville area for her generosity, especially in the case of the Annie Malone Children's Home, which was built in 1922 at 2612 Goode Avenue as a gift from its namesake.

This home began as the St. Louis Colored Orphans Home in 1888 at 1427 North Twelfth Street. Its site had been purchased for a home for black soldiers after the Civil War. In 1905 it relocated on Natural Bridge Avenue until moving to the present location. An important annual event in the black community is the Annie Malone May Day Parade, a fund raising activity for the Home.

Another institution in the area was the Elleardsville Branch YMCA, which opened in 1922 on the southwest corner of Pendleton and St. Ferdinand.

Inadequacy of health care and medical training for blacks in the city hospital system led to a movement by black doctors in 1914 to obtain satisfactory facilities. The former Barnes Hospital at Garrison and Lawton was purchased and renamed City Hospital No. 2. This 177 bed hospital was opened in 1919, but soon became too small to provide for the needs of the black community.

The prime mover in an effort to secure an adequate facility was a black attorney, Homer G. Phillips. He was instrumental in securing a million dollar proposition for a black hospital in the impending 1923 bond issue. After passage of the bonds, attempts were made to restrict construction of a separate hospital and to build an annex to City hospital for black patients instead. Considerable time and effort by Phillips for a separate hospital eventually succeeded and construction of the hospital finally began in 1932. Dedication ceremonies were held on February 22, 1937, at which time the facility was named for its benefactor. The hospital, at 2601 North Whittier Street, was considerably enlarged by an addition at its front in 1974. Adjoining facilities include a nurse's home at 2574 Goode Avenue and a clinic, erected in 1960, at 2425 Whittier.

Providing complete medical care and enjoying a national reputation as a training center for black medical personnel, Phillips Hospital is considered to be a most significant achievement of the black community of St. Louis.

Other health care institutions in the Grande Prairie area include the Wohl Health Center, opened in 1950, at 1528 North Kingshighway and the Nursery Foundation of St. Louis at 1916 North Euclid Avenue.

Medical facilities in the area were considerably expanded by the opening of the John J. Cochran Veterans Hospital in 1951. It is located in the eastern half of that former luxury private street, Vandeventer Place at Grand Boulevard.

Image - Homer G. Phillips Hospital at 2601 North Whittier Street
Image - John J Cochran Veterans Administration Hospital at Grand Boulevard and Enright Avenue
Image - Homer G. Phillips (1880-1931) Attorney and civic leader who secured the million dollar proposition for a black hospital in the 1923 bond issue