The majority of the houses in the Lafayette Square area were built before 1900, some dating back to before the Civil War. The period of greatest construction activity for the Second Empire style Victorian town houses were the two decades beginning in 1865. They were usually built with two full stories topped by a third floor mansard roof with dormer windows. Typical design features were arched doorways and windows, bay windows and ornate cornices. The facades were built of limestone or sandstone with brick walls on the sides and in the rear. The largest examples were built in Benton Place or on Park Avenue north of the park. Elsewhere in the area, they were somewhat smaller although still considered large by present standards. Some of the later ones, built during the 1880's, were a full three stories in height in the Italianate style.
After 1890, the prevailing architectural mode turned to houses displaying a Germanic influence, built completely of red brick, featuring wide arches, turrets, classical columned porches and iron balconies. In a few cases the original Victorian houses have been replaced by early twentieth century residences and apartment houses.
Several early houses in the area north of the park were designed by architect John H. Maurice, including the one at 21 Benton Place for General John S. Cavender. Maurice was also the designer of the Lafayette Park Presbyterian Church.
Probably the best known St. Louis architect of the mid-nineteenth century was George Ingham Barnett, who was quite active in the Lafayette area. He designed homes at 2107 and 2115 Park Avenue, the Blair-Huse mansion at 2043 Park Avenue and the Desloge house at 6 Benton Place.
During the 1890's, Theodore C. Link, architect of Union Station, designed houses at 2031 Park Avenue1 and 1701 Nicholson Place, as well as the Lafayette Park Methodist Church. The house at 2323 Lafayette Avenue was the work of architect Otto J. Wilhelmi, who was well known for his many fine designs in Compton Heights.
Image - Blaire-Huse mansion at 2043 Park Avenue
1. New evidence indicates that 2031 Park Avenue was built by Ernst Link (no relation to Theodore Link of Union station fame) in 1895.