General Conditions

In comparison with city areas to its east and north, the Kingsbury area is a relative newcomer. All of its development has taken place in the twentieth century. An example of its remoteness a few years before the World's Fair is provided by the fire which completely destroyed the 19 room mansion of Thomas K. Skinker on December 16, 1900. Located on his estate, just west of Forest Park, it was so far from the nearest firehouse that it was in ruins before the firemen arrived. Beginning with the subdivision of the area after the Fair, the build up was quite rapid and by 1930 very few vacant lots could be found. Conditions remained rather stable until World War II when the housing shortage created a stress on the area's housing stock. During the 1950's a westward migration of residents from the demolished Mill Creek Valley project site created a considerable increase in population density in Kingsbury and produced an integrated neighborhood. Overuse of the-housing, particularly in apartment buildings, caused deterioration in housing quality leading to vandalism and demolition of some units. In an effort to counteract this trend, neighborhood organizations were formed as early as 1958. Unity of action by these groups led to the defeat of rooming house legislation in the Board of Aldermen and continued vigilance eliminated housing code violations. These improvement associations also pushed for progress in traffic circulation, lighting, recreation facilities and general physical betterment of the area. In order to further this progressive trend, it was decided that an areawide group was needed. Thus the Skinker-DeBaliviere Community Council was formed in 1965. It is composed of the neighborhood associations, the area's three churches and Washington University and maintains an office in the community. The Council has sponsored various events such as art fairs and house tours and has established a service to aid prospective residents to locate homes within the area. In order to insure a promising future for the community, the Council is developing a program of housing rehabilitation for the Kingsbury area.

Urban renewal work on a broad scale is being done in an irregularly shaped area, which is bounded generally by Delmar Boulevard and the Forest Park Parkway between Belt and Hamilton Avenues. This vast project was begun early in 1977 by the Pantheon Corporation. Originally conceived as a primarily rental property development, the developer experienced so much interest in their first condominium building, that they are now placing increased emphasis upon the conversion of older apartments into condominium units. Most of this renewal is along Waterman and Pershing Avenues, although a townhouse area was projected west of DeBaliviere Avenue. Within the overall development, which is known as "DeBaliviere Place," the townhouse section named "Kingsbury Square" was opened in June, 1979. It features turn-of the century style in new houses along Kingsbury and Westminster Places west of DeBaliviere Avenue.

In September, 1978, the Skinker-DeBaliviere, Parkview, Catlin Tract Area was approved as a City Historic District.

Image - Proposed improvements on Pershing Avenue in DeBaliviere Place