Walnut Park


Land Divisions and Early Roads

Original land divisions of the area, now covering Walnut Park and the adjacent large cemeteries, were American surveys confirming Spanish land grants. U.S. Survey #1895 included the land now bounded by Florissant, Thrush, Bircher and Shreve Avenues, the balance of the area to its east as far as the Mark Twain Expressway was a part of Survey #458. West of #1895, reaching beyond the City Limits, was Survey #1913, while eastwardly, Calvary and Bellefontaine Cemeteries comprised portions of several other surveys. Survey #1895, which was originally owned by the St. Cyr family, was later broadly subdivided into seven tracts each of about 800 feet in width and of varying lengths across the survey from the present Florissant Avenue to Bircher.

By 1856, their owners, eastward from the west end, were James Clemens, Jr., Charles Chambers, Octavia Boyce, Mrs. Mary Harney, Richard Graham, Bryan Mullanphy and Mrs. Ann Biddle's estate. East of Survey #1895, was the farm of Henry M. Shreve, while to the west were tracts owned by Pope and Jacobs, Mary J. Switzer, William H. Jennings and the McLaran family.

Access to the present Walnut Park area from St. Louis was at first obtained by use of Bellefontaine Road (now North Broadway) and thence by way of Calvary Avenue, which was irregularly connected to a county road, that is now part of Union Boulevard. In the period after the Civil War, additional routes were developed, the principal ones being a road toward Florissant, now West Florissant Avenue, and also Bircher Road. Pitzman's 1878 map of St. Louis shows several north-south streets penetrating into the Walnut Park area, these are Kingshighway, Goodfellow, Semple Avenue, Bellefontaine Avenue (now Geraldine) and the present Euclid Avenue, then called Snead.

By the 1850's, most of the area was under cultivation or used as pasture for dairy farms. One of the largest farms was that of Charles E. Bircher, who had established his homestead on the present Small Arms Plant site in 1849. A typical farm in Walnut Park was one owned by a family named Wipperman during the 1880's. It covered about eighty acres near the present intersection of Davison Avenue and West Florissant. This farm had a pasture, truck garden, pond, orchards and acreage planted in alfalfa, corn and beans. Its well furnished a welcome place of refreshment for travelers to nearby Calvary Cemetery. Subdivisions

Platting of these farms into residential subdivisions began with the Walnut Park and Jennings Heights developments in 1888. The former was bounded by Tracy Road (now Riverview), West Florissant, Thrush and Theodore Avenues. Jennings Heights fronted on Mimika Avenue, between Emma and Lalite Avenues, and extended westward beyond the City Limits. A few more were platted during the nineties, including Harney Heights in 1891, Elmwood Park in 1892, and North St. Louis Heights in 1893. Harney Heights, on the Harney family tract, was bounded generally by Ruskin, Bircher and Florissant Avenues and by a line west of Union Boulevard. By 1910, West Harney Heights and its additions were developed within the tract west of Harney Heights, extending to Emerson Avenue.

The decade after 1900 was the one in which most of the area's subdividing was accomplished. Some of the larger ones were West Walnut Park, between Riverview and Mimika; Acme Heights, west of Goodfellow and north of Emma; Bircher's Subdivision, bounded by Riverview, Theodore, Thrush and Bircher, and the two tracts between Emerson and Thrush Avenues, extending from Florissant to Bircher. Within the latter areas were Florissant Avenue Hills, Westfield, Union Avenue Heights and the Strodtman Heights additions. The 1900-10 decade also saw the platting of most of the blocks between Kingshighway and Euclid, south of West Florissant Avenue. Durant Park was platted in 1920 in the area bounded by Kingshighway, Bircher, Ruskin and Thekla. In the section west of Riverview, the balance of the vacant area was developed between 1910 and the middle 1920's, beginning with Coshocton Heights in 1911, followed by the Finch subdivisions on Florissant Avenue in 1920, North Pointe in 1921, and Lilian Terrace and Electra Park in 1926. The last subdivision in the area was Norwich Place in 1950.