Locale and Topography
The Morganford area is in the extreme southern section of St. Louis and is bounded on the north by Bates Street, on the west by Gravois Avenue, on the east by Interstate Highway 55 and on the south by the City Limits. It is within the watershed of the River Des Peres and generally has a southward slope toward that stream. When this area was rural in character, it was drained by Glaise Creek, which arose near Gravois Road and flowed in a southeasterly course to a confluence with the River Des Peres near its present crossing by Interstate 55.
Between the present locations of Bates Street and Carondelet Park, east of Morganford Road is an area which originally included the southern portion of the Carondelet Commonfield. Southwardly from that, it embraced part of the Carondelet Commons north of the River Des Peres. That portion of the area lying between Morganford and Gravois Roads included sections of U.S. Survey #1339, which was originally the Eugenio Alvarez tract, and the southeastern corner of Survey #1839, then held by legal representatives of Madame Camp and Antoine Reilhe. Subdivisions
By the 1850's, these large land sections had been subivided into smaller tracts owned by Americans and newly arrived German immigrants. This trend was also apparent in the commonfield lots where the original French ownerships began to change.
Subdivision for residential purposes began in the early 1870's in an area southwest of Grand and Loughborough. Among the landholders here were Roswell M. Field, Chris Koeln and James Bowlin. North of Kansas Street, which is now known as Holly Hills Avenue, the chief land activity as in the extension of Central Carondelet and in Mrs. Anne ymond's subdivision. Later platting in this area was in Dover Place in 1894 and Grand-Kingshighway Park, now Bellerive Boulevard, in 1910. West of Grand and south of Bates Street, two major subdivisions in 1923 were Grandover Park, east of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and Holly Hills to the west of it. The latter covered a section bounded by the railroad, and Holly Hills, Leona and Wilmington Avenues. Before 1910, several subdivisions were opened along Gravois Avenue, attracted by the newly constructed trolley car line.
Among these were Helena Place at Allemania Avenue in 1904, Dixie Place at Kansas Street in 1905 and Austria Heights at Loughborough Avenue in 1906. There was extensive platting on both sides of Morganford oad south of Bates Street in the 1920's, in subidivisions uch as Wayne Place, Carondelet Parkview, Gravois Homesites nd South Holly Hills. Further south along Morganford and eastwardly on both sides of the River Des Peres, a major wave of subdividing occurred in the early 1950's. North of he River Des Peres, the principal subdivisions were Morganford Park in 1950, a series of Upton Place additions in 1951-1955 and Granbury Place in 1955. Between the River Des Peres and the City Limits there were several Carondelet Gardens additions, Carondelet Hills, Morganford Gardens and A1-Clare Meadows in 1954-55. The last plat recorded in this area was along Tesson Court in 1964.
Largest public park within this area is the 179.71 acre Carondelet Park, which is bounded by Loughborough, Leona and Holly Hills Avenues and Interstate Highway 55. It was purchased by the City in 1875 for $140,570 and was created to provide public recreation space for southsiders, at the same time that Forest and O'Fallon Parks were acquired in other parts of the City. Carondelet Park was dedicated on July 4, 1876 and by 1880 it was said to have a lake for boating and six miles of good driveways. Along with O'Fallon and the western half of Forest Park, it was proposed in a 1901 City ordinance as a potential site for the World's Fair.
The topography of Carondelet Park is rather irregular and is characterized by several sink holes. It contains two lakes, one of which was formerly used for boating; and has a boat house and pavilion. The park has numerous athletic fields and picnic grounds and is the scene of annual Carondelet Days Festival. Located to the north the tennis courts is the Alexander Lyle mansion, which built in 1842 by a former Virginian who made a fortune in the construction business in St. Louis. What is now Carondelet Park was a part of Lyle's country estate and after creation of the park his house served as a parkkeeper's residence for many years. It is presently used as a senior citizens recreational center and is considered to be an architecturally significant landmark.
About half of the 32 acre area of Christy Park is within the area. That park was purchased by the City in 1910 as part of the Kingshighway Boulevard project. A small portion of River Des Peres Park is also in the Morganford District. This park was acquired in 1926.
There is a concentration of cemeteries in the vicinity of Gravois Avenue near the City Limits. One of the earliest of these was the old St. Marcus Cemetery, which is on Gravois Avenue near Kingshighway. It was established about 1856 by St. Marcus United Church of Christ, which is now located at McNair Avenue and Russell Boulevard. No burials have been made there in many years and the cemetery has fallen into disuse. Its site has been the object of suggestions for various other land uses. The present St. Marcus Cemetery at 7901 Gravois Avenue was established in 1897.
The Independent Evangelical Protestant Church Cemetery, also known as the New Picker Cemetery, at 7133 Gravois was originally located across the street from its present location. It was established there in 1858 and is named after the Rev. Franz Picker. The present cemetery was opened in 1895.
The large Catholic archdiocesan cemetery of Saints Peter and Paul has been situated at 7030 Gravois for about 110 years but has been considerably enlarged since its founding. Saint Matthew's Cemetery at the southwest corner of Bates Street and Morganford Road was established in 1878. It is under the jurisdiction of St. Matthew's United Church of Christ at Jefferson Avenue and Potomac Street.
The Church of St. Stephen Protomartyr was founded in 1926 by Rev. Joseph G. Hoelting. Services were held in a wooden church structure on the site from 1926 until 1931 when a brick church and the present parochial school at 3923 Wilmington Avenue were completed. The present church edifice at 3949 Wilmington was dedicated in 1963 and then the older brick church was converted into classrooms. The Rev. Monsignor Patrick J. Molloy is now pastor of the parish.
Immaculate Heart of Mary parish was founded in 1951 by the Rev. Joseph F. Dwyer, and its first mass was celebrated on August 5th of that year in the chapel of Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery. Construction of the first church and school buildings, in the 4000 block of Blow Street began on June 14, 1952 when ground was broken by Bishop Cody. Since then, a new church has been erected, with the original one remodeled into a parish hall. A rectory, convent and school annex have also been completed. The church is at 4092 Blow Street and Rev. Melvin D. Keaney is now pastor.
Probably the oldest Protestant church in continuous operation in the area is the Kingshighway Methodist Church at Bellerive Boulevard and Colorado Avenue. Its first services were held in 1877 in a tent at Carondelet Square, a small park at South Broadway and Schirmer Street. In colder weather, the group met in nearby Gilbert's Hall. In the next year, the congregation, which had adopted the name of Carondelet M.E. Church, built a frame church at Pennsylvania Avenue and Upton Street. This was used until 1890, when the church moved to a new brick building at Virginia Avenue and Blow Street. About 1915, another move was made to the present location, where a frame church was built at the rear of the lot. A chapel, facing on Kingshighway southeast (now Bellerive Boulevard) was completed in 1916. At that time, the church's present name was adopted, to identify it with the street upon which it was located. In 1926, the present church structure was completed from plans by architects Bonsack and Pearce. The church's former home at Pennsylvania and Upton is now occupied by the Church of the Nazarene.
The Dover Place Christian Church was organized in 1895 at a meeting in a home at 510 Kansas Street. After a revival meeting at the Carondelet Baptist Church, the group held services in the Temperance Hall at Minnesota and Robert Avenues, where the congregation was organized as the Carondelet Christian Church in 1896. After meeting for a year in the small frame hall, the congregation rented the former German Methodist Church at Pennsylvania and Upton, remaining there for four years. Then a former high school building at 6801 Virginia Avenue was purchased as the church's new home in 1901. By 1907, the congregation had doubled in size and the present site at Dover Place and Alabama Avenue was acquired. A small church was opened there on October 25, 1907, at which time the present name was adopted. In 1909, an educational unit was added, and by 1932 growth of the church necessitated a building program. The present Gothic Church, designed by Theodore Steinmeyer, was dedicated on December 17, 1933. It harmonizes in appearance with the older unit on Alabama Avenue and has an auditorium seating 350 persons.
St. Lucas Evangelical Lutheran Church at 7100 Morganford Road was founded on January 29, 1905, as St. Lucas Slovak Lutheran Church, the first of its kind west of the Mississippi. It was organized in the school of old Trinity Lutheran Church on Eighth Street near Lafayette Avenue. During its first two years, the Church was served by seminary students, but on May 13, 1907, its first pastor was called. Desiring a home of its own, the Church moved in January, 1909, to the former "Self-Culture School" building at 1921 South Ninth Street. In 1914, it was learned that the former home of St. Paul Friedens Church at 13th Street and Allen Avenue was for sale, following a merger of that church with the Jesus Church. The St. Lucas congregation purchased the building for S14,500 and dedicated the structure on April 19, 1914. In 1928, the parochial school was opened and the church celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1930. By the 1950's, after many of the members had moved away from the vicinity of the old church, it was decided to find a new location. As a result, the present site was purchased and the new church building was dedicated on May 29, 1955.
Epiphany Lutheran Church, on the northwest corner of Holly Hills Boulevard and Leona Street, held its first services on September 14, 1941, in the assembly room of the Woerner School with an attendance of 184 persons. The first unit of the present church structure was dedicated on November 21, 1948, and the completed church edifice was dedicated on November 11, 1956.
The Grace United Church of Christ was organized as the Grace Evangelical Church at a meeting at the home of a member of the congregation on Thanksgiving Day in 1927. A frame church building on the present site was opened on June 24, 1928, and was later razed to permit construction of the present brick church on the southeast corner of Leona Street and Dover Place. That edifice was dedicated on December 24, 1940, and the adjacent educational building was completed in 1962.
Brandt Memorial Presbyterian Church had its beginning in a building at 4265 Delor Street in 1920, as a mission from Tyler Place Church and is named for Rev. John B. Brandt, the first pastor of that church. Brandt Memorial Church's present early American style building at Rosa and Christy Avenues was completed in 1950 and an educational building annex was added in 1961.
Among other Protestant churches in the area are the Four Square Gospel Church at Morganford and Germania, completed in 1962, the South Side Bible Chapel at Leona and Bowen, Christy Park General Baptist Church, opened in 1961 at 6220 Gravois, the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints at 4095 Loughborough and the South Side Unity Society at 3614 Bates Street. The Seventh Church of Christ Scientist at Holly Hills and Tennessee Avenues was completed in the early 1930's.
There are three public schools within the Morganford area. Oldest of these is the Calvin M. Woodward School at 725 Bellerive Boulevard. After classes were held for some years in portable wooden buildings, the move was made to the present brick building which was completed in 1921 from plans by R.M. Milligan. It is named for Calvin Milton Woodward, a prominent St. Louis educator. J. Gabriel Woerner (1826-1900) was a St. Louis lawyer and judge whose name is honored by the school building at 6131 Leona Street. This school was designed by Ernest T. Friton and was completed in 1931.
The most recent school constructed in the area is Windsor at 4092 Robert Avenue. Windsor School was opened in 1952, an auditorium addition was erected in 1955 and in 1957 an annex was added at the rear of the building.
Since 1902, the Grounds Division of the Board of Education has maintained a plant nursery and greenhouse on a large tract at Field Avenue and Blow Street. Present area of the grounds is 14 acres.
Among miscellaneous facilities in the area are the First District Police Station, which has been located at 907 Holly Hills Avenue since 1931; the Concordia Turners Hall at 6432 Gravois, relocated from 13th and Arsenal Streets because of highway construction in the early 1960's and the America Masonic Hall at 4386 Bates Street, where a new addition was completed in 1966.
An interesting facet of the history of a neighborhood is the manner in which its past is remembered through the names of its streets. In the case of the three principal east-west thoroughfares in the Morganford area, one is named for John M. Loughborough, an early surveyor; another for Frederick Bates, second governor of Missouri and a third is called Holly Hills Avenue, after a major subdivision of the 1920's. Several of the developers of that subdivision are identified with its street names, such as Federer, Livingston and Arendes.
A prominent early land holder in the district south of Carondelet Park was Roswell M. Field, who named streets for his son Eugene, the poet; for another son, Roswell; for a cousin Mrs. French and Field after the family.
Dover and Wilmington were so called because of a subdivision developer from Delaware. Haven Street was originally spelled Haren after Edward Haren, an early land owner in Carondelet. Morganford Road led to a ford on the River Des Peres and Bowen was named for another early surveyor. Toenges Avenue is named for a subdivision developer and Salzburger and Tyrolean Avenues are so named because they were in Austria Heights.
Commercial development in this area has been around street intersections, principally businessses are local in nature. Typical examples of these are to be found at Grand and Bates, Grand and Wilmington and Morganford and Loughborough. In the last case, it has form of a small shopping center, developed in the late 1950's. A former bus garage at Grand and Iron Street was converted into a supermarket and local businesses are along Wilmington at intersections west of Grand to Leona. Random strip commercial is strung out along Gravois and to some extent on Morganford, also in the vicinity of Grand Holly Hills.
Industrial, Railroads, and Transit
The only railroad is the Oak Hill and Carondelet branch of the Missouri Pacific, which at one time had a commuter station in Carondelet Park north of Loughborough Avenue. Industrial uses along the railroad do not extend south of Bates Street, which is the area's northern boundary. Industry is negligible.
For many years the only public transit service to this area was furnished by the Cherokee Street car line on Gravois Avenue. This line was extended out beyond Grand Avenue to the City Limits about 1900. Bus service was begun on Grand, south of Meramec, by the Peoples Motorbus Company in 1923. In the following years buses were put into service by the St. Louis Bus Company, a subsidiary of the streetcar company, on Bates, Delor and Loughborough. Direct service downtown from Carondelet Park was operated by the double deck buses of the Peoples Motorbus Company beginning in the 1920's. This later became the line. Present Conditions
This area presents an appearance of stability and conservation. It is one of the newer parts of the City where most of the development has occurred since World War I, with sections near the River Des Peres dating from the mid1950's. The older portions are along Gravois and in the district east of Grand Avenue and south of Carondelet Park. The population remains practically constant, possibly showing a slight decline in recent years. Housing construction in this area ceased during the 1960's when the last remaining vacant lots were absorbed.
J. Thomas Scharf - "History of St. Louis City and County" - 1883
Walter B. Stevens - "St. Louis, the Fourth City" - 1909
City Plan Commission - "Community Development Report" - 1973
Community Development Agency - Staff Analysis - 1976