Grand Prairie

Locale and Topography

Covering a broad area of north and central St. Louis is the Grande Prairie Area, which is bounded by St. Louis Avenue and by Grand, Delmar and Kingshighway Boulevards. West from Grand the land is gently rolling with a broad plateau, which rises gradually toward the west, beyond it.

Land Divisions

The name of the area is derived from the fact that most of it embraces the southern portion of the Grande Prairie Commonfield of St. Louis, which reached westward from what is now Grand Boulevard to Taylor Avenue. West of that, the area included Survey 2620 and the eastern ends of Surveys 3033 and 2976.

Commonfields for cultivation were laid out on the broad prairies surrounding the original settlement of St. Louis, by its French founders. They were platted in long narrow strips in the customary French manner, using the arpent as a unit of measure. An arpent was about 190 feet in length and the fields were generally one or two arpents in width and forty arpents long. The whole tracts were fenced with a common enclosure, with maintenance by the individual owners under the supervision of syndics, elected at special assemblies. This system was maintained here until about 1800, after which pacification of warlike Indians enabled the farmers to spread out. Then the fences were abandoned in favor of the Anglo-American practice of individual farming.


By 1850, the majority of the arpent strips had been combined into larger tracts more suitable for purposes of subdivision. Among the larger land holders in the area at that time were John Lay, Thornton D. Murphy, Daniel D. Page, David H. Evans, the Papins and the estates of Robert Wash and Nathaniel P. Taylor. By the mid-fifties, two large subdivisions had been laid out in the area, Cote Brilliante in 1853 and Prairie Place, along Belle Glade Avenue, in 1855. In 1857, Lay's property was platted as Aubert Place, surrounding Fountain Park.

Real estate activity was temporarily slowed by the Civil War, but resumed quickly following the conflict's end. As a result the Grande Prairie Area was well plattted by the mid1870's. Subdivisions developed during this period included Thornton Murphy's Additions, Subdivision of the Wash Estate, Evans Place, Taylor Place, Vandeventer Place, Delmar Place and additions by Pierre Chouteau and Hezekiah Claggett.

By this time Cote Brilliante had developed into an exclusive residential suburb. Among its residents were General William T. Sherman, Samuel Cupples, and Giles F. Filley. It was originally platted in 1853 by Charles Gibson, James C. Page and Felix Coste on the tract bounded by St. Charles Road, Euclid, Ashland Avenues, and Kingshighway, but it did not develop substantially until after the Civil War. Vandeventer Place, laid out by Julius Pitzmanin 1870, contained only three houses in 1875 and reached its fashionable zenith in the 1890's.

A well known suburb of St. Louis in the period after the Civil War was Elleardsville on the St. Charles Rock Road at Goode Avenue. It was named after Charles M. Elleard, a florist and horticulturist, who maintained a conservatory and green houses on a tract which he purchased from George W. Goode about 1858. Elleard's property was bounded by the present Martin Luther King Drive and Goode, Cote Brilliante and Newstead Avenues. By 1870, a small town had grown up around Elleard's floral nursery, containing such local landmarks as the Elleardsville Hall at St. Charles Road and Whittier Street and the adjacent Abbey Trotting Race Track, which occupied a tract bounded by Page, Whittier, Easton and Taylor.

Ellearsdville which later was known as the Ville, was annexed to the City in 1876. The Abbey Track area was subdivided as Evans Place about 1877 when the track moved westward to an area bounded by Page, Union, Easton and Kingshighway. Elleard's nursery tract was platted and developed in the early nineties. At the turn of the century the Grande Prairie Area was completely built up and urbanized.


Grande Prairie Area is rather deficient in public park facilities. The oldest public open space is Fountain Park at Euclid and Fountain Avenues. It was originally laid out as a park space in the Aubert Place subdivision of 1857 by John Lay. It was donated to the City by Lay in 1889 and covers an area of one and a half acres.

Tandy Playground occupies the block bounded by Cottage, Goode, Kennerly and Pendleton Avenues with an area of 5.6 acres. It was purchased by the City in 1915 for $102,380. A community center building was erected on the eastern end of the block in 1938. These facilities are named in honor of Captain Charlton H. Tandy, a Civil War military figure and a pioneer in the black education effort in Missouri. An extensive playground area is located west of Turner School, between Pendleton and Newstead. Beckett Playground is located at Page Boulevard and Taylor Avenues. It was developed in the late 1950's.


Residential sections of the Grande Prairie Area are situated in its interior away from bordering major streets containing the commercial strips. Single family dwellings are found primarily in its western portion, where it is intermixed with two or four family flats. These structures are generally built of brick and were erected between 1900 and 1920. Owner occupancy is relatively low except in the northwestern sector of the area, where property maintenance is higher. Some demolition has occured in the area, with most of it in the eastern portions, where deterioration is more advanced. Multiple family buildings are scattered throughout the area with more concentrated in the southeastern section. Dwelling structures in the eastern part of the area are generally older and less well maintained than in the western section. Age-wise, some of these date back to the 1880's and 1890's. A number of former single family dwellings have been converted into rooming houses. Frame houses are found in poorer sections of the area where more demolition has occurred.


Principal commercial streets are Delmar, Kingshighway, Grand and Martin Luther King Drive. Minor commercial strips are on Taylor, Sarah, Vandeventer and St. Louis Avenue. The most active area for stores is centered around the former Sears store on Kingshighway. Elsewhere, generally, commercial uses are in poor physical condition; with many vacant or vandalized. Considerable demolition has occurred and on major streets some older stores have been replaced by driveins or service stations. Competition from outlying shopping centers and a lack of adequate parking have taken their toll of neighborhood stores and shops.


Minor manufacturing uses, warehouses and junk yards are prevalent along major streets. In the interior areas, industries are mostly small in size, and generally are housed in buildings of poor physical shape. Major industrial concentrations are in the vicinity of Grand and St. Louis and around King Drive and Vandeventer. These include Carter Carburetor Corporation, Killark Electric, meat processing plants and bakeries.


A popular method of commemorating early landholders and real estate men was by giving their names to streets in their subdivisions. Consequently, many thoroughfares in the Grande Prairie Area derived their names in that manner, honoring Peter L. Vandeventer, John W. Finney, David H. Evans, and Daniel D. Page. Marcus Avenue is named for Marcus A. Wolff, an early resident of the Cote Brilliante area, where Samuel Cupples and Jewett Wagoner are similarly honored. Newstead Avenue is so named because it was the name of the English country home of Lord Byron, a favorite poet of Nathaniel Pendleton Taylor, an early land owner, who also bestowed his own name on two streets. Women were also remembered, as in the case of Sarah Street for Sarah C. Coleman, an heir of the Lindells, and Theodosia Hunt Patterson of the Lucas family. Prairie Avenue is named for the Grande Prairie Commonfield and Spring Avenue for a nearby spring.

Quite a few streets formerly bore names other than ones they now carry. In Thornton D. Murphy's Addition, west of Grand and north of Easton, Aldine, Cote Brilliante, Garfield, Vandeventer, Warne and Sarah were formerly Victoria, California, Boston, Baltimore, St. Louis and Glendale Avenues respectively. North Market was originally called Parsons Street west of Grand. St. Louis Avenue once bore the name of Claggett in honor of Dr. Hezekiah Claggett whose land adjoined that street. Many street names in St. Louis were changed by ordinance in 1881, in the interest of street name continuity and to avoid duplication.

Cozens Avenue was named for an early surveyor, Leduc for an old St. Louis judge and notary Kennerly Avenue for James and George N. Kennerly, landholders. Maffitt Avenue honors Julia C. Maffitt, Goode Avenue is named for George W. Goode and Belle Glade Avenue was so titled because of its pleasant prospect in the Prairie Place subdivision. Strangely, the name of Charles M. Elleard did not survive as a street title.

Cote Brilliante, meaning "bright hill" is saicl to be derived from an Indian mound at the present intersection of Kingshighway and M. L. King Drive. An interesting side light on neighborhood street names is that Aldine Avenue was once called Lucky Street. Principal thoroughfare through the area was what was first called St. Charles Road, later renamed in honor of Rufus Easton, St. Louis' first postmaster. This was the main road to the west connecting with the Santa Fe trail at Independence, Mo. It is now named for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Public transit within the Grande Prairie area was first provided by horse car lines of the Citizen's Railway Company operating on St. Charles Road west from Grand Avenue about 1870. This line ran as far as the Six Mile House in Rinkelville, the present location of Goodfellow Avenue. A branch line ran north of St. Charles Road on Papin (later Marcus) Avenue to Natural Bridge Road and thence west to Kingshighway. In October, 1878, the West End Narrow Gauge Railway, a steam line, began operations from a terminus near Grand and Olive. It ran west through the Grande Prairie area, following the route which was later used by the Hodiamont street car line. During the 1880's, the terminal was relocated on the present Enright Avenue west of Vandeventer.

In the early 1890's most of the city's street railways, including these lines were electrified. By the time of the transit company consolidation in 1899, trolley car lines were operating on such crosstown lines as Taylor, Sarah, Vandeventer and Grand, as well as on east-west lines including Delmar, Hodiamont, Page, Wellston and the Cass line on St. Louis Avenue. In addition to a line on Marcus from Easton to Natural Bridge, the Spalding line ran on Cottage and Spalding Avenues between Taylor and Union. In the conversion to motor buses in the 1950's some of the former street car routes were abandoned.

Population - Ethnic History

From a beginning as a sparsely settled countryside in the 1860's, the Grande Prairie area experienced a gradual urbanization. This build-up followed a westward trend across Grand Avenue, beginning about 1870, and progressed into the first decade of the twentieth century. Among many people moving into the area were significant numbers of German and Irish immigrants as well as a few blacks. Prior to 1900, the population of the area was generally white. The nucleus of its present extensive black population began in the Elleardsville section in the early seventies.

This section, now known simply as the Ville, became increasingly black in the initial decades of this century, because of racial segregation and convenience. Separate, but socalled equal, facilities, especially schools, were required by law. As a by-product of this, it became a matter of convenience for blacks and their institutions to concentrate in a definite area. Black visitors to the 1904 World's Fair found themselves directed toward an established black community such as the Ville, because they were forced by exclusion from white hotels and boarding houses, to seek quarters among people of their own race.

Another major cause of the concentration of blacks into certain parts of the City were residentially restrictive statutory covenants. After the first such segregative law was passed in Baltimore in 1910, the practice spread and reached St. Louis by 1916. Here, white neighborhood groups on the edge of black communities furnished much of the impetus for these local restrictions. A city-wide organization, called the United Welfare Association, was formed to promote segregation as a preventive against black incursions into white neighborhoods, on the premise that this would be detrimental to property values.

Despite heroic efforts by the NAACP and support by some of the press, the covenant statute was approved by the voters, 52,210 to 17,877, on February 29, 1916. However, an injunction was soon obtained to counteract the law and in the next year such statutes were declared to be unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. The segregation practice was still carried on through individual property covenants, which were not outlawed until 1949.

These practices had the effect of funneling more blacks into the vicinity of the Ville, and the Negro population spread out in whatever direction was possible. During the Depression of the 1930's and again during World War II, an influx of southern blacks came to St. Louis seeking employment. This, along with the removal of all restrictions after the War, caused an upsurge in the black population throughout the Grande Prairie area, so that today it is practically all black.

Since 1950, when St. Louis reached its all-time population peak, there has been a considerable out-migration of blacks, as well as whites, from the City and consequently from the Grande Prairie area. As a result, the area's population is now only about one half of what it was in 1950, this fact being evidenced by the amount of demolition which is visible in residential sections.


One of the oldest churches in the Grande Prairie area is that of St. Teresa of Avila, a Roman Catholic parish that was founded in 1865 by Rev. F. P. Gallagher. Dedication of the first church took place on September 23, 1866. It had a seating capacity of 300 which was enlarged to 700 by an addition in 1878. The church was built in the Byzantine style and set on a large lot, 236 by 315 feet in size. On August 1, 1876, the congregation was incorporated as St. Teresa's Roman Catholic Parish Association. The parochial school began in 1870 and was located in a building at the rear of the church.

By 1883, four parishes had been formed within the former boundaries of St. Teresa's parish. These were the German parishes of St. Augustine and Church of the Holy Ghost, the Redemptorist Church of St. Alphonsus and the Church of the Visitation.

Fr. Joseph A. Connelly, pastor during the 1890's, considerably enlarged the size of the school. Cornerstone laying ceremonies for the present church occurred on June 3, 1900 and it was blessed by Archbishop Kain on October 6, 1901. It is built in the Romanesque style with two domed towers flanking its facade. The present school building at 2419 North Grand was completed in 1926.

In 1879, a Catholic parish was formed to meet the needs of German residents in the area west of Grand Avenue in the Grande Prairie area. The new parish was placed in charge of Rev. Michael Busch and a temporary church, school and rectory were erected.

In May 1880, the new parish was dedicated in honor of the Holy Ghost. Rev. Busch was over-confident in the potential of the parish and invested in real estate as an inducement for home seekers and laid plans for a larger church. When the church basement was half finished, Rev. Busch found himself unable to meet his obligations and all of the property, except the small church buildings, were sold. Rev. Augustine Huettler was given the task of parish reorganization and raised enough funds to repurchase the unfinished church basement and set it up for services. Construction began later on the church building, which was dedicated in 1909 during the pastorale of Rev. John Rothesteiner.

This church, at North Taylor and Garfield Avenues, was designed in the Gothic sytle by Weisbecher and Hillebrand, with a cruciform plan and a rounded sanctuary. Holy Ghost Church was noted for its deep toned art glass windows and for two finely carved wood statues by the Tyrolese artist, Valentin Gallwetzer. Its parochial school was located at 4516 North Market Street. Due to changes in the population of the vicinity, the church was closed in the early 1970's and merged with the nearby Church of the Visitation. The former Holy Ghost Church building was razed in 1975.

The Church of Our Lady of Visitation was one of the first to be founded in the West End being preceeded only shortly by Holy Ghost Church. As the only other church available was St. Teresa's on Grand Avenue, this circumstance led to the formation of Visitation parish in 1882.

Archbishop Kenrick commissioned Rev. Edward Fenlon to organize a church and word of this reached Samuel Cupples, a prominent Methodist layman, who offered a two acre tract at Taylor and Evans Avenues as a site for the church. This offer was graciously accepted by the Archbishop and a frame building was erected thereon to serve the parish's thirty families. This church was dedicated on November 9, 1882 and contained a bell which was also a gift of Mr. Cupples. A parochial school was built in 1883, followed by a rectory and a convent. Father Fenlon was succeeded by Rev. Edward Dempsey in 1907 and two years later the cornerstone of the present church was laid. The new building was dedicated by Archbishop Glennon on November 11, 1909.

It was designed by Tom P. Barnett in the Tudor Gothic style at a cost of $125,000. Constructed of red brick with Bedford limestone trim, the interior featured an arched beam ceiling with oak furnishings and altars of Bianchi marble. In 1920, Rev. Joseph D. A. Collins, a student of church architecture and designer of St. Luke's Church in Richmond Heights, became pastor of Visitation parish. Father Collins created the design of the present parochial school which was built at a cost of $76,000. In 1934, at the time of its jubilee celebration Visitation parish had about 700 families.

The Roman Catholic Church of St. Matthew the Apostle was founded in 1893 by Rev. Joseph T. Shields, who was commissioned by Archbishop Kenrick to establish a parish in the Fairgrounds district. The territory around the present site of the church, at 2715 North Sarah Street, was then a dairy farm known as "Steiger's Pasture". As a canvass of the area showed 150 families as potential members, Father Shields purchased a section of the pasture about one half block in area and erected a small frame church seating 500 persons.

In 1893, no houses stood between the church and the Fairgrounds to the north, but as the parish grew rapidly, by 1905 Father Shields decided to build a new church. Plans for the new Gothic edifice were prepared by architect Joseph Conradi and the $150,000 building was dedicated on September 22, 1907. The parochial school began in a one story building in 1902 and in 1925 it occupied the original rectory which had been moved back on the lot. A new rectory was completed in 1925 and during the early 1930's the church's interior was extensively redecorated with ceiling frescoes. Its altar and rail are of Carrara marble and paintings by Matthew Hastings decorate the inside of the building.

In September 1881, the status of St. Alphonsus Church became that of a parochial church and a large territory bounded by Easton, Washington, Compton and Taylor Avenues was assigned to it. About ten years later it was decided to create a new parish from the western end of St. Alphonsus parish, comprising the area between Sarah and Taylor Avenues. Prime mover for the project was Rev. John T. J. Tuohy who erected a small frame chapel at Finney and Grand Avenues. It was dedicated in honor of St. Paul the Apostle on .January 10, 1892. Rev. Tuohy was appointed pastor of St. Patrick's in 1896 and was succeeded at St. Paul's by Rev. O. J. McDonald.

The new pastor soon found the location unsuitable and moved the church to Page Boulevard and Whittier Street in 1897. It was renamed in honor of St. Ann and the old St. Paul's Church was demolished. The church basement was dedicated for divine services on September 12, 1897 and the upper marble sanctuary was dedicated on May 13, 1910. St. Ann's parish began to decline in the 1920's, but was revived later by the large black population that moved into the neighborhood and began attending the church.

One of the oldest Protestant churches in the Grande Prairie area is Antioch Baptist, a black congregation which was incorporated on May 6, 1884. The present church at Goode Avenue and North Market Street was erected in 1920. The church built its adjoining Christian Education building in 1954 at a cost of $235,000 and three years later opened its day nursery.

Another early black Baptist church was Burning Bush, which was established in 1906. Among black Baptist churches now occupying buildings formerly used by other denominations are the Hopewell M. B. Church, located in the former Wagoner Place Methodist building at 1527 Wagoner Place, and the Pleasant Green M. B. Church which uses the former Shaare Zedek synagogue at 4270 Page Boulevard. The West Side Baptist Church has been located at 4647 Page for many years. Nearby was the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church which was at Euclid and Page before 1904 and was later located at 1341 North Kingshighway. Delmar Baptist Church occupied a building at Delmar and Pendleton from 1892 until 1916, when it was sold to the First Christian Church. First Christian was later located in the former Fountain Park Congregational Church at 4950 Fountain Avenue, which is now occupied by the Centennial Christian Church. First Christian's former home on Delmar now houses the Galilee Baptist Church.

Kingshighway Christian Church was founded in 1893 as a mission at Easton and Marcus Avenues by Rev. O. A. Bartholomew of Mount Cabanne Church. Shortly thereafter, it moved to Marcus Avenue and Hammett Place where it became known as the Beulah Christian Church and later as the Hammett Place Church. In 1918, it moved to a new church at Kingshighway and Labadie Avenue when the name was changed to Kingshighway Church. About 1929, the church merged with the old Second Christian Church under the present name of Memorial Boulevard Church. It is located adjacent to the St. Louis Christian Home. Second Church, which dated back to 1868, was originally the old North St. Louis Christian Church at Eleventh and Tyler Streets. Central Christian Church, a forerunner of the present Union Avenue Church, erected a building on Finney Avenue near Grand in 1887 and occupied it until its merger with the Mt. Cabanne Church in 1900. The combined groups became the Union Avenue Church upon moving to a chapel on the present site in 1904.

Plymouth Congregational Church was the fourth of its denomination to be founded in St. Louis. It grew out of the Hope Mission Sunday School, which was organized in Elleardsville in 1865 by Rev. William Porteus. Pilgrim Church became interested in sustaining the mission in 1868, secured a lot and began a fund to organize a church.

In July, 1869, a frame church building was dedicated on the west side of Belle Glade Avenue north of Parsons Street which is now North Market Street. Given the name of Plymouth Church, the building was 30 by 62 feet in size and could seat 300 persons. In 1919, Plymouth Church merged with the Fountain Park Congregational Church at 4950 Fountain Avenue. Fountain Park Church began as the Mayflower Mission Sabbath School at Grand Avenue and Lucky Street in 1867. As a mission of Pilgrim Church, a chapel was built on what is now Garfield Avenue west of Grand after organization of Mayflower Church in 1869. In 1876, the name was changed to Third Church and the building was moved again in 1882 to a site on the southeast corner of Grand and Page, where the Gothic frame structure was refitted and enlarged. During the early 1890's, a brick church replaced the frame one on the Page Avenue corner, but changing neighborhood conditions led the church to make a westward move. This was done in 1895 by merging with the Aubert Place Church, which was then erecting a building at Fountain and Aubert Avenues. The name of Fountain Park Church was adopted for the combined societies.

Fairground Mission Sunday School, formed by the old Third Church in 1877, later became the Church of the Redeemer and merged with the Union Church in 1911, which as the United Church, joined Fountain Park Church in 1918. The latter church's building, dedicated in 1896, is a Romanesque structure with a tall stone tower and three wings. In 1936, the edifice was sold to the First Christian Church.

St. Peter's German Evangelical Church, which was located at Warne and St. Louis Avenues from 1915 until 1974, had its origin as the North Church at Sixth and Franklin in 1846. Four years later, it moved to 14th and Carr Streets and in 1907 to Swan and Newstead before locating on St. Louis Avenue. Since 1974 the church has been located in Ferguson. Also in Ferguson, is the Immanuel United Church of Christ which occupied a building at Maple and Euclid Avenues for many years.

Faith United Lutheran Church was formed in 1925 by a group of Lutherans who were also Masons and could see no wrong in a Christian being affiliated with a fraternal order. From 1926 until it moved into its own home, Faith Church held its services at Mount Moriah Masonic Temple. Beginning as an independent church, it later affiliated with the Illinois Synod of the United Church.

After merging with Reformation United Church, the Faith group made plans to erect a church building on the corner of Kingshighway and Terry Avenue. This lot had previously been acquired by the Reformation Church. Cornerstone laying ceremonies took place on August 17, 1930 and the completed edifice was dedicated on March 15, 1931. It was designed by Aegerter and Bailey in the late perpendicular Gothic style. Built of brick with terra-cotta trim, the building's interior has a massive beamed ceiling and towering columns. Faith Church is now located in Ferguson and the building on Kingshighway is occupied by All Saints Episcopal Church.

St. Phillip's Evangelical Lutheran Church at 2424 Goode Avenue is a descendant of the Carr Street Mission and has advocated integration since its move to the Ville area in 1926. It has maintained a bi-racial ministry. In 1966, St. Phillips' constructed its present modern building on the Goode Avenue site.

Records show that two English Lutheran churches were located in the Grande Prairie area. These were Grace Church on the southwest corner of Warne and Cozens Avenues in 1875 and Mt. Calvary Church, which was situated at 1605 North Euclid from before 1904 until after 1925.

Shaare Zedek Jewish congregation occupied a synagogue at Page Boulevard and West End Place from the early 1920's until 1951 when it moved to 5470 Delmar. It is now located at 829 North Hanley Road.

St. James A.M.E. Church at 4301 St. Ferdinand Avenue was founded in 1884 and has been an inspirational leader in its community for many years. The church led the way to the building of James House, a ten story facility for more than 200 elderly persons at 4310 St. Ferdinand. St. James raised $45,000 of the total construction cost of $2,700,000 for the Federal Housing and Urban Development project, which is administered by the St. Louis Housing Authority. Other nearby churches and institutions assist in the operation of the home, including entertainment and activity programs.

Epworth Methodist Church began as a mission in a small school house on Easton Avenue, west of Grand in 1872. In 1875, a site was purchased at the northern corner of Goode Avenue and North Market Street, where a frame chapel was dedicated on November 15, 1875. In 1876, a church was organized as the Goode Avenue M.E. Church with Rev. R. S. Stubbs as pastor. The chapel was replaced by a brick church in 1886. In 1908, continued growth caused the church to relocate to Maffitt and Warne Avenues, where a new building was dedicated on June 5, 1910. Upon occupancy, the name was changed to Chouteau Place M. E. Church and later to Epworth Church. The Gothic style church is built of brick with stone trim. Epworth Church later merged with Winsor Church in Baden and its old home is now occupied by Asbury Methodist Church.

Salem German Methodist Church, which dates back to 1841, moved from 15th and Wash Streets to Page and Pendleton in 1906. That church was sold to a Jewish congregation in 1924 and one year later Salem Church occupied its new building at North Kingshighway and Cote Brilliante Avenue. About that time a previous mission, Gano Avenue Church, was reunited with Salem, and in 1925 the German and English St. Louis Conferences merged resulting in the change from German services to English. Other churches which sprang from Salem and later rejoined it were Zoar in 1922, Eden in 1937 and Elmbank in 1943. Salem Church is now located in St. Louis County and its old home on Kingshighway is occupied by St. John's A.M.E. Church.

The inability of GrandePrairie residents to reach the nearest Methodist churches because of bad roads, led to the eventual founding of Wagoner Place Church. With assistance from Centenary Church, a group of about 20 persons began holding services in a store at Taylor and North Market in 1890. Younger members of this group organized the first unit of what was to become the Epworth League in the Southern Methodist Church. Need for a permanent home for the rapidly growing congregation led to the erection of a chapel at Taylor and Maffitt Avenues late in 1891. Jewett Wagoner, a member of the group, donated a lot for a permanent church at 1527 Wagoner Place and on July 22, 1894, the new church was dedicated and named in honor of its benefactor. Wagoner Place Church occupied this building until 1945, when it was sold to the Hopewell M. B. Church.

The Page Avenue M. E. Church South occupied a chapel on Page near Grand from 1877 until after 1883. Among other Methodist churches in the Grande Prairie area is the Scruggs Memorial C.M.E. at Spring and Cook Avenues, in a building erected in 1925. Originally, this was the location of the Cook Avenue M.E. Church which was founded in the 1880's. In 1952, the Parish Chapel A.M.E. Church was located at 2407 Belle Glade Avenue and is presently at 800 Union Boulevard.

The Third United Presbyterian Church at 2426 Union Boulevard began as a Sunday School in 1891 at Kisker Hall at Newstead and North Market. A congregation was soon organized and a church site was acquired at the southwest corner of Wagoner Place and North Market Street. Services were held at Marcus Hall at Easton and Marcus until 1893 when the new church was completed and named Wagoner Place United Presbyterian Church. The present site at Union and Highland was acquired in 1912 and services were held in a mission building there until completion of the present church in April, 1916, when the name of Third United Church was adopted. The church is built of brick with terra cotta trim and later an educational building and gymnasium were added to it.

North Presbyterian Church was founded in 1845 and erected a church at Eleventh and Chambers Streets in 1857. It remained there until after 1904 and in 1925 was holding services in the North Side YMCA. After that, it occupied a building at 3965 St. Louis Avenue for many years, which later became the home of the First Church of the Nazarene. The Nazarene Church was previously in the old First Christian Church at 4300 Delmar in 1936 and moved to the St. Louis Avenue building in the early 1950's. Other Presbyterian churches in the area included the Brank Memorial at Page and Aubert and the Cook Avenue Church at Sarah and Cook from before 1904 until after 1925. The First United Presbyterian was located at Newstead and Morgan (Delmar) during that same period.

Protestant Episcopal Church services were first held in Elleardsville in November, 1868, in a room over a grocery store on Victoria (Aldine) Avenue. The church's first building was completed in 1870 at Whittier and North Market Streets where St. James P.E. Church was organized on March 5 of the same year. The congregation's second church was built at Goode and Cote Brilliante Avenues in 1888 and in 1900, it erected its third home at that intersection. The building was erected by Mr. and Mrs. E.C. Simmons in memory of their daughter and became known as St. James Memorial Church. This church was moved stone by stone and rebuilt at Euclid and Washington Avenues in 1910, following a merger with the Church of the Redeemer.

All Saints Episcopal Church at 2831 North Kingshighway, now occupies the former home of the Faith United Lutheran Church. It was previously located at Locust Street and Garrison Avenue and was at 2135 Washington in 1904.


In its suburban years, before becoming a part of the City of St. Louis in 1876, the Grande Prairie area had few public schools. Among these were the Cote Brilliante School on the south side of Kennerly Avenue east of Cora, and the Elleardsville School on the southeast corner of Belle Glade Avenue and Parsons (North Market) Street. The former was a three story building of seven rooms, which was surmounted by a series of fanciful towers with spires.

Elleardsville School was housed in a three story mansard style building with a capacity of 650 students. Both of these were built about 1870. Also in the area at that time was the Spring Avenue School, at Spring and Parsons, and Colored School #8 in Elleardsville. These were one story wooden buildings of two rooms each. The school for blacks was opened in 1873 in Claggett (St. Louis) Avenue, with an enrollment of 53 pupils. It was operated by a Board of Education for Colored Schools, which had been established in 1865, to foster education of black children. In 1877, black teachers replaced whites in the school and by 1881 the building was enlarged to four rooms. It was renamed as the Edward J. Simmons School in 1891 and in 1899 the old school was replaced by a brick building. It occupies the same site today in a building erected in 1930 at 4318 St. Louis Avenue. An addition was built west of it in 1965. The present Cote Brilliante School at 2616 Cora Avenue was designed by William B. Ittner in 1904.

Other early schools in the area were the Bell Avenue two room building on Bell one-half mile west of Grand and the Thomas F. Riddick School at 4136 Evans, which was originally built in 1890 with additions in 1894, 1896, and 1899. Euclid (formerly Washington) School at 1131 North Euclid Avenue was erected in 1893 with an addition in 1902. John Marshall School at 4342 Aldine Avenue was opened in 1900 as a grade school for white children and became a black intermediate school in 1918. In 1927 it reverted to an elementary school for black children and an adjacent branch was built in 1952.

Two schools designed by R.M. Milligan were completed in the area in 1917, these were the Edward Bates School at 1912 North Prairie Avenue and the Samuel Cupples building 4906 Cote Brilliante.

The present Turner Middle School at 4235 West Kennerly Avenue was originally opened as the Charles H. Turner Open Air School for Handicapped Children in 1925. It was named for a noted black scientist and was phased out for its original use after the passage of desegregation laws in the 1950's.

Another building, now used by Turner Middle School at 2615 Pendleton Avenue, was formerly the Harriet Beecher Stowe Teachers College and was completed in 1940. Stowe College had its beginning as a Normal Department in the Sumner High School in 1890. In 1925 it was designated as a college and in 1929 was named for the novelist. It moved from Sumner into a wing of the Simmons School, where it remained until completion of its own building on Pendleton. In 1954, the college was merged with Harris Teachers College as an integrated institution.

Richard H. Cole School at 3935 Enright was opened in 1931 from plans by architect George W. Sanger. A branch was completed nearby on West Belle in 1950. A new Washington School was erected at 1130 North Euclid Avenue in 1955 and three years later the Eugene Field branch was completed at 721 Pendleton. Most recent public schools to be built in the area are the George E. Stevens building at 1033 Whittier and the Frank L. Williams School at 3955 St. Ferdinand, both opened in 1964. There are two branches of the Williams School in the area.

Charles Sumner High School, which was the first such institution for black students west of the Mississippi, was established in 1875 at Eleventh and Spruce Streets. It relocated at Fifteenth and Walnut in 1895 and moved to its present location at 4248 Cottage Avenue in 1910. It was the only secondary school for blacks in St. Louis until 1927 when Vashon High was opened. Educational demands required const':uction of frame classroom buildings at Sumner in 1911 and in 1914, nine portable classrooms were set up at Cottage and Pendleton. These were known as the Cottage Avenue School, a training school for student teachers at Sumner Normal. Additions were built at Sumner High in 1922, 1955, and 1968. In 1933 a junior college was operated under a WPA program by Lincoln University at Stowe College.


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.

Vandeventer Place

Although preceeded by such havens for abodes of the affluent as Lucas and Benton Places, the St. Louis private street concept reached its initial grandeur in Vandeventer Place, designed by Julius Pitzman in 1870. It was named for Peter L. Vandeventer, who owned the tract bounded by Grand, Bell, Enright and Vandeventer Avenues, where it was developed. Vandeventer Place was conceived by Charles H. Peck, Napoleon Mulliken and John McCune. It was to be a most fashionable private street with stringent restrictions relating to its occupants and exclusiveness in prohibiting any kind of noxious intrusion. It was administered by an association of all of its property owners, ever alert to maintain the Place's air of genteel elegance.

The first houses to be erected were those of the street's founders in 1871. They were all situated near the Grand Avenue entrance, which was guarded by a huge iron gate. This gate was later replaced by a monumental limestone entrance structure, with a circular pool and a fountain in the nearby central parkway. The eastern one of these entrance porticoes, which were at both ends of the Place, is now located near the Jewel Box in Forest Park.

Vandeventer Place reached the pinnacle of its glory in the 1890's, when it contained the luxurious mansions of the City's wealthiest citizens. Among these were David R. Franci former mayor, governor, and later president of the World's Fair and H. Clay Pierce, an oil magnate whose home was-said to have cost $800,000 in the days of low construction costs.

Architecturally notable was the John R. Lionberger house at 27 Vandeventer Place, designed by the famed Boston architect, Henry H. Richarason, in 1886. The J.G. Chapman residence at Number 46 was the work of the St. Louis firm of Eames and Young in 1892. Its last occupant was John L. Mauran, the well-known St. Louis architect.

By 1910, the noise, smoke and dirt of the City had surrounded Vandeventer Place, which began a valiant ef fort to maintain its high standards . However, it proved to be a losing battle, culminating in surrender in 1947 when the Veterans' Administration acquired the eastern half of the Place as the site for its new hospital. The final blow came when the City acquired the western portion about ten years later as the site for a childrens detention home.

Another private street in the Grande Prairie area is Lewis Place, running west from Taylor Avenue to Walton Avenue. It was laid out by the Pitzman Company in 1890 for the Lewis Real Estate and Investment Company, headed by Turner T. Lewis and Benjamin W. Lewis. Original plans for a street of spacious, upper middle class homes faltered; one of the more ambitious houses from the first phase of Lewis Place development is #8 which was designed and built in 1891 for livestock dealer, J. J. Holt. One of the investors, Benjamin W. Lewis, moved to #26 in 1896 but the second wave of building in the first decade of the twentieth century saw realtors building and selling groups of smaller homes. Lewis Place holds a special place in the history of the black community of St. Louis as one of the first areas of distinctive middle class housing to be integrated in the mid1940's. The brick triumphal arch ( c . 1897 ), designed by the notable St. Louis firm of Barnett, Haynes and Barnett, at the entrance on Taylor is both a landmark and symbol of the street.


Johnston, Norman J. "St. Louis and her Residential Streets." Journal of the American Institute of Planners, August, 1962, pp. 191-192.

Savage, Charles Chauncey. "Private Street Architecture of St. Louis." M.A. Dissertation, Columbia University, 1977, pp. 114-115.

History of St. Louis City and County" - J. Thomas Scharf - 1883

"St. Louis - the Fourth City" - Walter B. Stevens - 1909

"Pictorial St. Louis. - Richard J. Compton and Camille N. Dry - 1875

St. Louis Development Program - City Plan Commission - 1973

Rapid Transit Report - St. Louis City Board of Aldermen 1926

"The Ville: The Ethnic Heritage of an Urban Neighborhood" - Social Science Institute Washington University St. Louis - 1975

"Missouri's Contribution to American Architecture" - John A. Bryan - 1928

"Vandeventer Place" - Dickson Terry - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - March 16 & 17, 1958