Locale and Topography

A convenient and viable neighborhood on the near South Side is the Shaw area, bounded on the east by Grand Boulevard, on the south by Arsenal Street, west by Kingshighway and on the north by Chouteau and Manchester Avenues. The land slopes gradually westward from the ridge line along Grand Boulevard toward Kingshighway, with a level topography.

Land Divisions

Among the outlying common fields laid out by the French settlers of St. Louis was the Prairie des Noyers or "Meadows of the Walnut Trees". Established in 1769, this field included most of the present Shaw area, except its extreme northern section which was within the Cul de Sac Common Field and the St. Louis Commons. Prairie des Noyers was composed of a series of strips of varying widths running westward from what later became Grand Boulevard to Kingshighway. These were cultivated by the settlers in various crops.

After the Louisiana Purchase, the American government had to contend with land claims problems in the St. Louis area for decades. Confirmations in the Prairie des Noyers were secured by various French families, who later sold their tracts to land speculators. Large sections in the present Shaw area were acquired by Major William Christy, who sold them in 1816 to William Chambers. About 1860, these tracts were willed to Chambers' daughter, Mary Lawrence Tyler, who sold them to a subdivision developer in 1888.

By the mid 1850's, Henry Shaw had acquired several large tracts in the area, including the land now occupied by Tower Grove Park and Shaw's Garden, as well as a large tract north of the Chambers-Tyler holdings. Shaw also purchased the strip now occupied by Flora Place as an entrance way to his Botanical Garden. Along the north side of Magnolia Avenue was a strip of land owned by the Louis Bompart estate. Most of the northern part of the Shaw area was the property of Mrs. Mary McRee, who laid out the Laclede Race Course in McRee City in 1865. This was located in the wedge between the old and new Manchester Roads. Old Manchester is now Vandeventer Avenue.

Shaw 1875

A series of bird's-eye view drawings made for Compton and Dry's pictorial atlas of 1875 provides a realistic view of conditions in the area a century ago. While Tower Grove Park and the Missouri Botanical Garden were well-landscaped and developed by that time, the surrounding present day residential neighborhood was largely vacant land. Except for a few houses on the perimeter streets, the area west of Grand to the Garden and north from Magnolia to Park Avenue was meadow land and corn fields. At the northwest corner of Grand and Magnolia stood the Rene Beauvais mansion, built in 1854, later to become the nucleus of the Memorial Home for the Aged. North of Shaw Avenue, on the west side of Grand, were two large houses occupied by the families of N.C. Hudson and J.G. Butler. North of these, at the head of Lafayette Avenue were the Episcopal Orphans Home and Mount Calvary Episcopal Church.

On the next corner north was the home of William F. Obear and midway between it and Park Avenue was the estate of Edwin Fowler and about a block south of Chouteau Avenue, the works of the Hydraulic Press Brick Company was located. Running westward from Grand to Tower Grove Avenue, Flora Place and Shaw Avenue are shown as streets lined with trees but devoid of any houses. Only three small houses fronted on Magnolia Avenue until, on the approach to Tower Grove Avenue, the hot houses and grounds of Michels' Winter Garden are to be seen. Across Tower Grove Avenue was the Casino near the Botanical Garden grounds. A few houses are scattered along the east side of Tower Grove Avenue south of Flora Place. West of the Garden were Shaw's farm and arboretum and at Kingshighway and Old Manchester Road were two buildings housing Shaw's schools. Eastward from Kingshighway along the Missouri Pacific Railroad, considerable development is evident, particularly in the McRee City area, where streets and clusters of dwellings are located.


While Henry Shaw began to subdivide his extensive land holdings as early as 1855, the earliest residential subdivision in the area was McRee City in 1869. In 1878, Shaw platted his Grand Avenue Addition, bounded by Grand, Shaw, Spring and McRee Avenues. It was Shaw's idea to duplicate a street he knew in his native England. The charming result consists of an oval drive around a parkway, with a fountain near its south end. This fountain formerly graced the eastern end of Vandeventer Place. Bordering the drive are ten Victorian brick houses dating from the 1880's, with high windows and white painted front porches. They each have one bricked up window, following an English custom of closing off windows, since taxes once were assessed according to the number of windows in each house. Designed by George Ingham Barnett, their interiors have high ceilings and sliding doors of heavy wood. They were built as rental property, but upon Shaw's death, certain houses were willed to the Garden. Exceptions were houses left to Shaw's housekeeper and relatives. Shaw Place became a private street in 1915.

Following the opening of Tower Grove Place in 1886, broad sections of land were platted for development in 1888-89. These included Tyler Place, which with the exceptions of Flora Place and the Bompart strip along Magnolia Avenue, reached from Grand to Tower Grove and from Magnolia to Shaw Avenue. Dundee Place, platted in 1889, covered the area between McRee and Park Avenues, westward from Grand to Old Manchester Road. Shaw's Flora Boulevard subdivision, popularly known as Flora Place, was platted in 1901 and within a few years was lined with fine houses. In the years between 1911 and 1915, several sections were opened in Shaw's Lafayette Avenue Addition between Shaw and McRee, west from Grand to Tower Grove. Magnolia Place was opened in 1916, as was Shaw's Vandeventer Avenue Addition, north of the Garden. Gurney and Heger Courts were opened in 1922-23, followed in the latter years by the Shaw's Garden Subdivision, across Alfred Avenue from the west side of the Garden. It had been under-developed Garden property prior to subdivision.


In the first half of the nineteenth century, the present Shaw area was bounded by roadways marking the eastern and western limits of the Prairie des Noyers. These later became Grand and Kingshighway Boulevards. East-west access was by means of the Old Manchester and Arsenal Street Roads. The latter followed a course westward from the St. Louis Arsenal to a junction with Manchester Road at what is now Maplewood. Old Manchester, whose route is now traversed by South Vandeventer and Southwest Avenues, was designated as a state road in 1839 and became known as the Road to Jefferson City. The present Manchester Avenue was then called the Fox Creek Road, and received its new name after completion of the adjacent Pacific Railroad. Both Manchester Roads were extensions of Market Street in St. Louis.

Grand Boulevard was originally platted and named by Hiram W. Leffingwell in 1850. He envisioned a broad parklike thoroughfare extending from Carondelet to Bremen, along a high ridge line. Such an idea was too advanced for the County Court, which limited the street to its existing width of eighty feet. Kingshighway is so-called from the custom of naming the public roads giving access to the ends of the common fields, as the Rue Royale or King's Road. It remained relatively unimportant until 1903 when the City's Kingshighway Boulevard Commission planned it as part of the fifteen mile Kingshighway Parkway system.

A good index of a neighborhood's history can be found in the names of its streets. In the Shaw Tower Grove area, the dominant influence of Henry Shaw is evident in the horticultural derivation of such names as Botanical, Flora, Magnolia, Hortus, and, of course, in Shaw and Tower Grove Avenues. Political connotations are apparent in streets named for Grover Cleveland, his wife Frances Folsom and his opponent James G. Blaine. These names were bestowed by subdivision developers who were trying to attract attention from visitors to the 1888 Democratic national convention here.

Engineers are commemorated by streets named for Henry W. Flad, assistant to Eads on the bridge construction, and for Richard Klemm, who laid out many early subdivisions.

Land owners are represented by Mrs. Mary McRee and the Gurney and Heger families, as well as by Shawl Lawrence Avenue honors Mary Lawrence Tyler, former owner of the Tyler Place tract. Henry S. Geyer and Samuel Reber were St. Louis lawyers, while Russell Boulevard memorializes the owners of the Oak Hill area clay mines. Personages of an earlier day honored by street names are Henri de Tonty, lieutenant of explorer Robert LaSalle, and the Marquis de Lafayette. Waterways are recalled by Shenandoah Avenue, named after the river in Virginia, and Spring Avenue, a southerly extension of a North St. Louis street named for the source of the Rocky Branch Creek. In the 1860's, Shaw named that part of present Spring Avenue from McRee to Shaw, as Morisse Street in honor of his brother-in-law. During the 1880's, this same street section was called Mercy Street. That part of 39th Street north of Park Avenue was once named Tiffany Street and 39th was once called Vandeventer.

Missouri Botanical Garden

Henry Shaw, from whose country estate Tower Grove Park takes its name, arrived in St. Louis from England in 1819. At that time the town was becoming an outfitting point for the West and Shaw shrewdly invested in the hardware business. He also saw the advantage of river shipping rather than laborious overland routes, especially in transshipment of sugar from New Orleans. Shaw accumulated a fortune before he was forty, retired from business and traveled widely. On a trip to England, he was impressed by the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew and later determined to establish a botanical garden in his adopted City. Accordingly, the Missouri Botanical Garden was £ounded and laid out on Shaw's land, adjacent to his country home in 1858. A museum to house his library and herbarium was completed in 1859, followed by an arboretum, green houses and formal gardens.

At his death in 1889, Henry Shaw was lauded as an outstanding benefactor of St. Louis through his gifts of the Garden, Tower Grove Park and the Washington University School of Botany. He is entombed in a stone mausoleum on the Garden grounds. Like most of the other Garden structures, from Shaw's time, it was designed by architect George Ingham Barnett. Barnett's work is seen in Tower Grove, Shaw's country home, completed in 1849 and extended after his death. The name derives from its tower and the adjacent groves of trees. Nearby, facing on Tower Grove Avenue, is his town house, built in 1851 on the southwest corner of Seventh and Locust Streets. After Shaw's death it was removed and rebuilt in the Garden in 1891.

The most prominent structure in the Garden is the Climatron, a geodesic dome designed by R. Buckminster Fuller in 1959. Within this first geodesic greenhouse, a variation of temperatures can be maintained for a wide variety of tropical vegetation. Elsewhere in the Garden can be found special greenhouses for desert, Mediterranean and floral displays. In the Linnaean greenhouse built by Shaw, is the Garden's camellia collection. Outdoor display areas are notable throughout the Garden, including formal rose gardens, an English woodland garden and the new Japanese Garden in the southwest corner of the Garden grounds. Contrasting with the older structures is the new John S. Lehmann building, built in 1972 at a cost of $1.8 million. It houses the library and the herbarium in a temperature controlled environment, as well as offices and educational facilities. The Garden offers many botanic courses and workshops for children and adults. Several fountains embellish the beautifully landscaped grounds and facing Magnolia Avenue is the headquarters of the National Council of State Garden Clubs.

A 2,200 acre arboretum is maintaines by the Garden at Gray Summit, Missouri. Shaw's Garden, as it is popularly known, now covers 7999 acres and with its modern plant display and propagation facilities, is the nation's leading botanical garden.

In 1819, when Henry Shaw first viewed the land which he later acquired in the Tower Grove area, he described it as a vast undulating prairie, without trees or fences, but covered with tall luxuriant grass. Even thirty years later, when Shaw occupied his country house, the area was remote from St. Louis. So remote, in fact, that when he asked his friend, Doctor George Englemann, to become the Garden's first director, the doctor declined stating that he did not wish to "live so far away from St. Louis!" Dr. Engelmann was a distinquished St. Louis physician and botanist, who, when he learned that Shaw intended to leave his estate to the public, convinced him that a botanical garden would be an appropriate gift. In the years after the Civil War, Shaw decided to donate nearly 300 acres of his land to the City for a public park. It required exceptional vision for him to foresee the development of the treeless and waterless prairie into the magnificent park that it was to become.

Acceptance by the City included the provision that public funds would be used for the Park's upkeep. Since the site was beyound the City limits of that time, the Park was created by an act of the State legislature on March 9, 1867. It was to be administered by a board of commisioners with Shaw a life-time member. Shaw was also the chief designer for park improvements, with civil engineer Francis Tunica in charge of construction. The Park tract was three-tenths and one and one quarter miles in length from Grand Boulevard to Kingshighway. It was the intention of the donor that a 200 foot wide strip around the Park's perimeter was to be reserved for the erection of handsome residences, with their revenue to go toward the support of the Botanical Garden. This plan did not work out and the only "villa" remaining is the one designed by George I. Barnett and occupied by the park superintendent at Tower Grove and Magnolia Avenues. Until recently, the superintendent has been Miss Bernice Gurney, grandaughter of James Gurney who was brought by Shaw in 1868 from Regent's Park in London to act as the Garden's chief gardener and landscape architect. He was succeeded by his son as park superintendent in 1920.

Tower Grove Park was laid out as an English walking park, in a semi-formal arrangement, with fanciful gazebos and pagodas in gay colors scattered around the grounds. More than 20,000 trees were planted and curving driveways were laid out in a "gardensque" style. A straight center drive runs westward from the Grand entrance, interrupted at several points by circles containing statuary, terminating at the transverse drive from the Tower Grove entrance. The "villa strip" was purchased by the City and added to the Park in 1926, making it the City's second largest park, covering 285 acres.

All of the Park's entrances are reached through ornamental gateways with wrought iron work and stone pylons. The East Gate at Grand was designed by Shaw in 1870. It is marked by large limestone piers topped by zinc weeping lions. Tall thirty foot columns, with limestone bulls at their tops, located at the Tower Grove entrance, once supported galleries under the dome of the old Courthouse. They were acquired by Shaw when the rotunda was remodeled. Marking the 200 foot strip, at this point, are limestone markers topped with stags. This gateway was erected between 1868 and 1870. At the Arsenal Street entrance or South Gate, also dating from 1870, is a stone gate house designed by George I. Barnett. This was the last Park building built by Shaw before his death. Nearby is a "well-house", one of twelve built in the early 1870's, as the only source of water for the Park. When a water pipe was laid in Arsenal Street in 1872, a tap was made providing the Park with City water.

As a result, a lily pond and fountain were built near the north entrance. On its north side are the "ruins" a picturesque arrangement of stone blocks from the 1867 fire ruins of the first Lindell Hotel. East of this is the Music Stand, completed in 1872 and surrounded by polished granite pedestals bearing busts of famous composers. All of this was made possible by the generosity of Henry Shaw. Also donated by Shaw are three major pieces of statuary in the Park, representing Columbus, von Humboldt and Shakespeare. All three are the work of sculpture Ferdinand von Miller of Munich. The Shakespeare and Humboldt statues were unveiled by Shaw in 1878, followed by the Columbus statue in 1886. The latter is in a circle of the center drive near the East Gate, Humboldt's figure is located in another such drive circle east of the pond and Shakespeare's is in the circle of the transverse drive near the center of the Park. The three statues are mounted on red granite pedestals designed by architect Barnett.

As a memorial to the Park's donor, a battery of tennis courts with a stone entrance house was erected by the City in 1952. A bronze portrait medallion of Shaw, formerly on the base of the Humboldt statue, was remounted on the west wall of the gate house at that time.

In 1968, a statue of Baron von Steuben was presented to the City and erected in the Park north of the "ruins". It had formerly decorated the Liederkranz Club on South Grand.

At the Park's Kingshighway entrance, is a stone castellated gateway with forty foot towers, designed by Barnett.

Supplementing the traffic entrances to the Park are four pedestrian gateways interspersed at convenient locations on the Park's perimeter. Another evidence of Shaw's concern for walkers was the thoughtful provision for shelter given by the many summer houses in the Park. Tower Grove Park today is a highly prized and intensively used recreation space for South St. Louisans.


The need for an English speaking parish north of Tower Grove Park resulted in the creation of the church of St. Margaret of Scotland late in 1899. Rev. James O'Brien was given charge and first services were held in a vacant store at the southeast corner of Russell Boulevard and 39th Street. This was used until the present church, at 3864 Flad Avenue, was dedicated on Thanksgiving day in 1907. The parochial school was built in 1911 at 3964 Castleman Avenue, with a new building constructed at 3950 Castleman in 1966. The convent is located at 3867 Cleveland in a building completed in 1956. St. Cronan's parish was founded by Rev. Thomas Ambrose Butler in 1882. He was pastor of St. James Church in Cheltenham at that time and continued to minister to that parish until March, 1884, when he transferred to St. Cronan's. The church is at 4200 Swan Avenue, with its school across the street at 1200 S. Boyle Avenue.

Tower Grove Baptist Church had its origin in a suggestion by Rev. John McCourtney, who felt the need for prayer meetings in the Tower Grove neighborhood. After several such meetings in various homes, the church was organized in the spring of 1890. Rev. F.T. Shore was called as pastor by the eight charter members and three rooms were rented in a house on Newstead Avenue, just north of Norfolk Avenue. A Sunday school with an initial enrollment of 22 was started there. Services were later held in two front rooms of Rev. Shore's house in the 4300 block of Vista Avenue. In the fall of 1892, the church was moved to a hall on the third floor of a building at Tower Grove and Vista Avenues. A lot at 4318-22 Norfolk Avenue was purchased in May 1893. Cornerstone of the first church was laid on the rear of this lot on August 17, 1895. During the pastorale of Rev. F.A. Lowry, which began in 1923, the membership increased from 414 to 2,200, making it the City's second largest Baptist church in 1934. A new church was erected in 1924 at the Norfolk Avenue site and in 1928 the older church building was replaced by a new Sunday school facility. The church's auditorium could seat 1,500 persons, and a major remodeling and enlarging program was completed in the late 1930's.

The church's present location at Tower Grove and Magnolia Avenues was acquired in 1949 with the present Educational building completed in 1954, followed by the recreational building in 1958. These also house the church, which is now one of the largest in the Southern Baptist convention. Another Baptist church of long-standing in the area is Compton Heights Baptist, which was located at Russell and Vandeventer (39th Street) from before 1904 until moving to their present location at 3641 Russell Boulevard about 1915.

Compton Heights Christian Church, first of its denomination in South St. Louis, began in 1891, when it held mission meetings in Anchor Hall at Jefferson and Lafayette. After organizing as a church in 1894, a chapel was built at California and St. Vincent Avenues. It was rebuilt after damage by the 1896 tornado and was enlarged in 1902. In 1930, the church moved into the former B'Nai E1 Hebrew Temple at Spring and Flad. In an effort to find a permanent location, the church purchased the Nicolaus mansion at Grand and Flora Place in 1924. Construction could not begin until building restrictions were changed and the present church at 2149 South Grand was not completed until 1948. An addition to the Sunday school was built in 1962.

Congregation B'Nai E1, the oldest reformed Jewish group west of the Mississippi, moved into their new temple at Spring and Flad Avenues in 1906 from their former location at Eleventh and Chouteau. They occupied the Flad Avenue building until 1930 when they relocated in the former Central Presbyterian Church at Clara and Delmar.

St. Peter's Lutheran Church at 1124 South Kingshighway grew out of a mission school opened by Christ Lutheran Church in a residence at 1424 Old Manchester Road in 1889. A small building was erected for the school near Vista and Swan Avenues in 1890, and was turned over to the newly organized St. Peter's Church in 1895. As the new church prospered, an addition was built and in 1904 a new site was purchased at Newstead and Swan Avenues and the old building was moved there. A new church building on that site was dedicated in September, 1908. While remaining there for nearly twenty years, the church experienced a steady growth. Through the efforts of Rev. A.P. Feddersen, the present church group was built and occupied in May, 1926. A parochial school was discontinued in 1920, but was revived in 1932 through a joint effort with Christ Church.

Reen Memorial English Lutheran Church was an outgrowth from St. Paul's Mission, which was located at Chouteau and Taylor Avenues in 1904. The present church building at 1034 South Kingshighway was erected in 1906, with an addition completed in 1960.

Mount Olive Lutheran Church, which has been located at 4240 Shaw Avenue since before 1940, completed a new school building adjacent to the church in 1963.

The forerunner of the Shaw Avenue M.E. Church, South was established as a mission in a store at 1604 Tower Grove Avenue in 1897. Later, a frame building at Tower Grove and McRee Avenues, formerly the home of a Presbyterian church, was purchased. Here the present congregation was organized as the Tyler Place Methodist Church in January, 1898. During the pastorate of Rev. E. W. Webdell, the church's present site was acquired through the generosity of Samuel Cupples, a great benefactor for the denomination in St. Louis. Soon after, the frame church was moved to the new site, where it was humorously referred to as "the church in the cabbage patch," as it was surrounded by small truck farms. About that time, the present name was adopted. In April, 1906, the present brick church building was completed at a cost of about $30,000. Shaw Avenue Church grew with the neighborhood and by 1934 it had a membership of more than 600.

During the 1890's, the area between Grand Avenue and Shaw's Garden was in course of residential development. The principal subdivision there was Tyler Place, named for Mary L. Tyler, former owner of the tract. Continued growth brought the need for a Presbyterian Church, so that a meeting was held at the home of Albert Wenzlick at 3630 Flad Avenues, early in 1896. A Sunday school was organized with the aid of W.H. Herrick, a missionary and Doctor John B. Brandt, the church's first pastor. Initial sessions were held in the old Obear Mansion, on Grand near Lafayette, in April 1896. After the tornado of May 27, 19896, the Sunday school was forced to leave as the mansion was needed to house homeless refugees. Dr. Brandt was determined to continue the project and rented a house at 3809 Flad Avenue for that purpose. Tyler Place Church was organized on December 14, 1896, with fifty charter members. In a move to obtain a permanent home for the church, a gift of $18,00 was secured from the First Presbyterian Church and the present site at Russell and Spring Avenues was acquired. First services in the new building were held on June 9, 1901. Since the church was built of limestone on a foundation of solid rock, it was necessary to blast out a basement for additional space in 1927. The Sunday school building was enlarged in 1910 and the continued growth of Tyler Place Church made possible the creation of two missions. These were the Southampton Presbyterian Church and the Brandt Memorial Chapel. In 1934, the church had over 1,400 members and a Sunday school enrollment of about 1,000. The Presbytery of St. Louis maintains offices and a rehabilitation center at 2236 Tower Grove Avenue. Gibson Heights United Presbyterian Church, at 1075 South Taylor Avenue, was formed in 1902 when a large group left the Grand Avenue United Church to form a new church near Forest Park.

Wagoner Memorial United Methodist Church has been located at 1038 South Taylor Avenue since 1946, following a move from its former location at 1527 Wagoner Place in North St. Louis.

Mount Calvary Episcopal Church was organized on September 6, 1870, in the Compton Hill Mission school house, a small frame building on Henrietta Street, north of Lafayette Avenue. A lot at the head of Lafayette at Grand Avenue, 175 by 400 feet in size, was donated as a church site by Henry Shawl A church costing $12,000 was built there, largely through the generosity of George D. Appleton. The building, designed by C.B. Clark, was consecrated in 1871. By 1877, the building was outgrown and a new site was purchased at the southwest corner of Jefferson and Lafayette Avenues. A chapel was built there in 1878, followed by a church in 1882, which was unroofed by the tornado in 1896. Rev. Philip W. Fauntleroy, then rector, directed rebuilding of the church. When Rev. Fauntleroy left in 1911, there was $30,000 in the church treasury. This enabled the purchase of a church site at 3661 DeTonty Street, where a new church was consecrated in February, 1912, and the parish was free of debt. Mount Calvary Church experienced financial difficulties in the 1920's and was virtually reduced to the status of a mission by 1933. After some success' the church was disbanded and its former site is now a part of the right-of-way of I-44. Other churches in the area include the Light House Free Methodist at 4269 Norfolk Avenue and the Mount Sinai Baptist at 3800 Blaine Avenue, in a former Church of Christ building.


The earliest school in the Shaw area was established by Henry Shaw about 1870 in a two story, four room building at Old Manchester Road and Kingshighway. When that area became a part of the City in 1876, this school was integrated into the City public school system. In 1881, it was reported to have a capacity of 240 students, and was known as the Shaw School. Next school to be opened was Adams, at what was called the Taylorwyck Station of the Pacific Railroad in 1878. Three years later, it was said to be a one story and one room building with 60 seats. At present, the John Adams School is located at 1311 Tower Grove Avenue, were additions were made to the original building in 1895, 1899 and 1906.

In 1898, the William T. Sherman School was completed in the Tyler Place section at 3942 Flad Avenue, one of the earliest schools designed by William B. Ittner. There are three branches of the Sherman School in the area, number one is in the former B'Nai El Temple at Spring and Flad, while the others are located at the Tower Grove Baptist and Compton Heights Christian Churches. The Bryan Mullanphy school, named for the well-known St. Louis philanthropist, was designed by Ittner and completed in 1914. In the area west of Shaw's Garden, the Festus J. Wade School, named for the St. Louis banker, was opened in 1929. It was designed by Robert M. Milligan.


On the west side of Grand Boulevard, between Hickory Street and Park Avenue, is an impressive group of hospitals which are affilitated with the St. Louis University Medical Center. Oldest of these institutions is the Firmin Desloge Hospital, a 15 story structure at 1325 South Grand, which was opened in 1933. To the rear of Desloge Hospital is the next six story Bordley Memorial Pavilion, providing expanded hospital facilities, and a 15 story elevator tower which serves both buildings. On Vista Avenue to the west of the new Pavilion is the new ambulatory care Health Center, a three story structure containing specialty clinics and doctors' offices.

All of this represents a demonstration of the faith put into the Center in 1966, when it seemed to be doomed to failure or to a move to the county. Evidence of new construction is to be seen also in the medical school at Grand and Caroline, where a complete renovation is nearing completion. A new 6.6 million dollar medical school library and resource center is under construction and a new nursing school is soon to be started at Caroline Street and Carr Lane Avenue.

Another important part of the Center is the David P. Wohl Mental Health Institute at 1221 South Grand, which was opened in 1961 on the site of the old Battery "A" Armory. Cardinal Glennon Memorial Hospital for Children at the northwest corner of Grand and Park Avenue, while not directly under the University, is a major part of the Medical Center. It is administered by the Sisters of St. Mary and is the pediatric affiliate of the medical school. The hospital was opened in 1954 and an auxiliary building, Cardinal Glennon Hall at 1401 South Grand was completed ten years later. Also parts of the Medical Center are the New Hope Learning Center for retarded children and the Institute of Molecular Virology. The latter is located in a renovated streetcar barn at the western edge of the Center's campus. This Institute, which has had several expansions since locating at its present site about ten years ago, conducts research into the causes of cancer.

Bethesda General Hospital is an independent institution which is also affiliated with the Medical Center. It is located at 3655 Vista Avenue and re-opened in 1954 in its present modern building, to which additions were made in 1966 and 1975. Bethesda can trace its history back to 1889, when it was begun as a refuge for abandoned children by Doctor Edward W. Saunders. Dr. Saunders and his colleagues, Mr. and Mrs. Roger Hayne, rented the old Allen mansion at 917 Russell for Bethesda's first home. Living up to its name, which means "house of mercy" in Hebrew, its facilities were expanded to include a home for aged women in the old Soulard mansion at Twelfth and Soulard Streets. In 1892, a maternity home was opened followed by a nursing school in 1899. The present hospital site was donated in 1900 by Richard M. Scruggs, and two buildings, housing a short term care hospital and a maternity care and foundling home, were erected. They were razed in the early 1950's to make way for the present structure.

Missouri Pacific Hospital had its beginning about 1880, as a facility for Iron Mountain Railroad employees, in the old Henry T. Blow mansion at Virginia and Loughborough Avenues in Carondelet. The hospital was located at 1600 California Avenue from 1884 to 1922, at which time the railroad severed its relations with the hospital and it came under its present form of management. Its present building at 1755 South Grand Boulevard, was opened in 1923, with additions constructed in 1946, 1957 and 1970. It is now known as the Compton Hill Medical Center.

Missouri School for the Blind was founded in 1851 and became a state operated institution in 1855. After being located at several downtown locations, the school moved from Broadway and Howard Street to its present location in 1906. The only school of its kind in Missouri, it serves all legally blind children between the ages of 5 and 21 and maintains schooling from kindergarten through high school. Several additions were made to the original building in the 1940's and 1950's. In 1959, the present facade on Magnolia Avenue was completed.

Memorial Home for the Aged at Grand and Magnolia is built around the old Rene Beauvais mansion, which was erected in 1854. It is a fine example of the classic Greek Revival style with fine Corinthian columns and wrought iron work. In 1882, it was purchased for a home for Civil War Veterans by the Christian Women's Association. Since 1970, women have also been admitted as residents. Additions were made to the Home in 1900 and 1920. A former institution in the Shaw area was the Protestant Episcopal Orphans Home. It was founded in 1848 and moved to a building on the west side of Grand near Lafayette in 1873. This large mansard roofed building was erected on a lot which was donated by Henry Shawl It was razed about 1940, at which time the institution became an educational center, in a former infirmary building at 3621 DeTonty Street. That structure was sold to the State, for the right-of-way of Interstate Highway 44, about 1960. Still known as the Episcopal Home for ChilBren, it is now located at 6357 Clayton Road.

The southside branch of the Y.M.C.A. has been located at 2232 South Grand since 1936. Its building was extensively rebuilt in 1959. Kingshighway branch of the St. Louis Public Library at Vandeventer and Shenandoah Avenues was originally located at 4654 Shenandoah and occupied its present building about 1965. This structure was modernized and enlarged by the addition of an auditorium in 1974.


In the Tyler Place area, all of the housing, with the possible exception of Shaw Place, has been built since the 1890's. Most of it was erected between 1900 and 1925, in a mixture of single and multiple family dwellings. Single family houses are found along Flora Place and off of Magnolia Avenue, elsewhere flats predominate. Both Flora Place and nearby Compton Heights contain some of the finest homes to be seen in this vicinity. East of Grand on Russell, at Louisiana, is the Stockstrom house, a large residence in the German Renaissance style. It was built in 1909 for a local stove manufacturer, from designs by architect Ernst Jansen.

A block-wide swath of housing from Grand to Vandeventer, across the Shaw area, was demolished to make way for Interstate Highway 44. West of Shaw's Garden to Kingshighway, most of the housing was constructed in the 1920's. Single family units are concentrated in the southwestern corner near Magnolia Avenue. The balance of the area is largely flats or apartments, with some single family dwellings near Alfred and Shawl Northwest of Vandeventer Avenue are the old McRee City and Gibson Heights areas, where most of the housing was built before 1900. In the western portion of this area, where single and two family dwellings predominate, they are of 1910-20 vintage. North of I-44, west of Grand, the housing is older and primarily multiple-family in character. This area has experienced a decline and considerable demolition since 1960.


There are remnants of commercial strips along Grand and along Tower Grove Avenue north of Shaw, while a declining shopping district is located on 39th Street. Small shops are scattered throughout the area, mainly at intersections. Further west, small groups of neighborhood shops are located at Vandeventer Avenue's intersections with Shaw and Kingshighway. Commercial strips which formerly occupied frontage on Manchester, Vandeventer and Chouteau Avenues are now suffering from high vacancy and poor maintenance.


Industrial uses are principally located in the northern and northwestern portions of the area, chiefly along the railroad lines. A major industrial district lies within the triangular area west of Vandeventer, east of Kingshighway and bounded on the north by Manchester Avenue. There are some vacant plants and little new industrial construction, with some small service industries along Manchester.


In the northern part of the area are the parallel main lines of the Missouri Pacific and Frisco railroads. The former, then known as the Pacific Railroad, was built through the area before the Civil War, while the Frisco was constructed in the 1880's. The Oak Hill branch of the Missouri Pacific, which veers off of the main line just west of Tower Grove Avenue, was built about 1886 to serve as a connecting link with the Iron Mountain line in Carondelet.


Residential development in the Shaw area began in the early 1890's about the same time that electrification of local transit lines occurred. Before that time, service had been provided by horse car lines, most of which operated east of Grand Avenue. Before the transit consolidation of 1899, service was furnished by several independent companies. Among those operating to or through the area was the Market Street branch of the Missouri Railroad, when ran out Old Manchester Road to Tower Grove Avenue and thence south to Magnolia. A later extension operated southwest to Southampton by way of Kingshighway. The Tower Grove line, on Arsenal Street, was a branch of the Union Depot Railroad, which terminated at Kingshighway in the nineties. The Compton and Park streetcar lines were developed from the Compton Heights line of the Lindell Railway Company.

The former ran on Shenandoah to Thurman and thence south to Magnolia, while the Park branch came out Park Avenue to 39th Street and then operated south to Shenandoah. The Tiffany line connected the transit offices and shops at 39th and Park with Chouteau Avenue. Originally, the Manchester line was a part of the Suburban Railway system to Maplewood and Kirkwood. All of these streetcar lines came under the management of the United Railways Company after the consolidation, and at present they are served by motor buses of the Bi-State Transit Agency. The Lindenwood line of the Peoples Motorbus Company ran through the area in the 1920's and 30's, via Vandeventer, Shaw, Spring and Russell. A portion of this route is now served by the Lafayette bus line on Shaw Avenue.

Present Conditions

A fact which augurs well for the future of the Shaw area is the organization of neighborhood groups to foster improvements and maintain citizen intereSt. They are part of a Citywide pattern of such associations which have developed in recent years. An example of the activity of one of these groups, the Shaw Neighborhood Improvement Association, is the traffic plan that was adopted a few years ago. Devised to limit through traffic passage on residential streets, it has, after some discussion, achieved a desired effect through one way streets. Another effort to attract attention to the neighborhood is the annual Gardenfest and house tour. This acquaints the public with the area and its assets, attracting potential new residents and renewing interests for existing ones. Such interest is vital in the ongoing effort to preserve urban neighborhoods by a vigilant fight against deterioration and by continual betterment. On a broad urban scale, it can create an inspiration to retain our cities as viable places to live.

A recent co-operative Tower Grove neighborhood movement is the Five Church Association. It was formed in 1972 in an effort to pool the resources of several Protestant churches to provide for the community's social needs. These included day care for infants and young children, meals for the elderly and summer recreation programs. Through these neighborhood-wide activities, the Shaw area is well endowed with a fine community spirit.

The major portion of a 274 acre rehabilitation project is within the Shaw area. This is the Midtown Medical Center Plan, which is projected by the St. Louis University Medical Center through its planning affiliate. It envisions improvements in the residential, recreational, commercial and industrial facilities in the area, as well as expansion of the Medical Center. An effort is made to have neighborhood residents represented in the progress of the project.


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

Stevens, Walter B. - "St. Louis - The Fourth City" - 1909

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

City Plan Commission - "Community Development Report" -1973

Powell, Mary - "Public Art in St. Louis" - St. Louis Public Library Bulletin - July-August 1925

Gill, McCune - "The St. Louis Story" - 1952

Missouri Botanical Garden - "Henry Shaw - A Pictorial Biography" - no date

Missouri Botanical Garden - "Henry Shaw's Will - 1889" no date

St. Louis Globe Democrat - "Shaw Area - Blending Two Cultures" - March 7, 1967

Flannery, Toni - "Survey Records Henry Shaw's Park and Garden" - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - August 18, 1974

Farmer, Don - "How to Get More Money to Save More People - The Tower Grove Park Problem" - St. Louis Globe Democrat - July 2, 1961