Land Divisions

This area is within the western sections of two major Spanish land grants, the Gratiot League Square and the Papin tract, also known as Survey 378. Their dividing line laid slightly north of an east-west line which would bisect the present area of Forest Park. Survey 378 included all of the present residential area north of Lindell to beyond Delmar and reached westwardly to the present Hanley Road. After a series of real estate transactions among descendants and relatives of the Papins, including John P. Cabanne, a portion of the present area came into the possession of Cabanne's sonin-law, James W. Kingsbury in 1834. This section, later known as the Kingsbury farm, was bounded by the present Forest Park Parkway on the south, Kingsbury Boulevard on the north and stretched westward from Union Boulevard to Hanley Road.

According to Kingsbury's will, the land was subdivided twenty years after his death by his two daughters, Mary Virginia, Countess de Giverville and Adele L. Waterman. This subdivision, known as Kingsbury Place, occurred in 1873. South of it, to Lindell, was a portion of property belonging to the Robert Forsyth estate, which eventually came into the possession of Daniel Catlin and came to be known as the Catlin tract. North of the Kingsbury farm was the Larkin Deaver tract, which was bounded on the north by Delmar Boulevard, south by Kingsbury, east by Union and on the west by Hanley Road. In 1901, these properties came under control of the Parkview Realty and Improvement Company, which was apparently formed to realize a profit from the oncoming World's Fair, to be held in adjacent Forest Park. However, except for Catlin tract which was leased for the "Pike" amusement area of the Fair, the land remained vacant until after the Exposition's closing. It is believed that the area remained undeveloped for so many years because of periodic flooding by the River des Peres.

Initial development in the area was the Parkview Place subdivision which was bounded by Skinker, Delmar, Melville and the Rock Island Railroad. This section was platted with attractive curving streets by Julius Pitzman in 1905, but because of various financial troubles housing construction did not begin there until 1907. Because of its proximity to the area's principal thoroughfare, Skinker Road, the next area to be platted was Washington Heights in 1907. This area reached from the railroad to Delmar between Skinker and the River des Peres. Two years later this section included 40 houses and with such interest evident, another plat called Washington Heights First Addition was opened in 1909. This plat reached east from the River to DeBaliviere Avenue except for the area north of McPherson and east of Laurel. A portion of this section was developed as an apartment subdivision in 1915, with the name of Washington Heights Second Addition.

Thus the only unplatted area was that occupied by the street car barn and yards at Delmar and DeBaliviere. In 1909 the Catlin tract was subdivided into large lots for luxury homes facing Forest Park, completing development of the land north of the Park. A strip of land between Skinker Road and the City limits, south of Forsyth was originally in the Gratiot League Square. Its platting began in 1911 with Tesson's subdivision between Forsyth and Wydown. Next to come was Hillcrest, comprising Aberdeen and Arundel Places in a private subdivision and in 1917 Hi-Pointe was platted north of Clayton Road to the alley south of Southwood Avenue. The latter was formerly owned by Julia Chouteau Maffitt and the former was part of the Thomas Skinker estate, which also included land developed as Ellenwood in 1922. This was located on the west side of Skinker, south of Wydown and reached south to the north line of Hillcrest. The last subdivision created in this area was DeMun Park, an apartment district which was developed in 1923 between Hillcrest and Hi-Pointe on land formerly owned by Jules and Isabella DeMun.

Image - Skinker Road along the west side of Forest Park in 1917