Locale and Topography
A compact older neighborhood on the near north side is the Yeatman area. It is bounded on the west by Grand Boulevard, on the east by Jefferson Avenue, and on its north and south sides by St. Louis Avenue and Delmar Boulevard respectively.
Topographically, the area is relatively high at its center, averaging about 550 feet above sea level, generally on both sides of Cass Avenue from west of Jefferson and Grand. Below that it slopes gradually downward on allsides until it reaches a level of about 520 feet on the area's perimeter.
Original land divisions in the Yeatman Area included portions of several surveys which were based upon colonial land grants. Among these were Survey #3061, at one time the property of Benito Vasquez and #2499, given as the land of Martin Coontz on a plat of 1836. Others were Surveys #2491, 3026 and 658. The southwestern corner of the area, south of Cass and east of Grand was an eastern section of the Grande Prairie Common Field. The eastern boundary, Jefferson Avenue, was the western limit of the St. Louis Common Field.
By the early 1850's, the surveys had been subdivided into tracts whose principal owners were Clement B. Penrose, G. W. Goode, Henry Stoddard, A. R. Easton, William Glasgow, Jr. and Daniel D. Page. In 1851, a large tract bounded generally by Jefferson, Sheridan, Compton and Laclede Avenues was platted as Stoddard's Addition. It was followed in 1856 by the North Stoddard Addition on both sides of Cass Avenue, west of Jefferson to Garrison. Another fashionable subdivision of the time was Florence Suburb laid out in 1853 by J. S. Watson and S. D. South. This was located east of Garrison Avenue between Thomas and Howard Streets. In the late 1850's the large Penrose Tract, bounded by Jefferson, Madison, Garrison and St. Louis Avenues began to be divided into smaller residential subdivisions. During that period, the western section of the Yeatman area was platted into properties owned by Page, Easton, Glasgow and Laflin and Smith.
This area takes its name from James E. Yeatman (1818-1901), a prominent St. Louisan of the nineteenth century. Yeatman, who arrived in St. Louis from Tennessee in 1842, established a local branch of the Nashville Iron House. In 1846 he was among the founders of the Mercantile Library Association and in 1850 he entered the commission business. Ten years later, Yeatman became president of the Merchants Bank and during the Civil War he headed the Western Sanitary Commission, an agency set up to care for wounded Union Army soldiers. After the war, he continued as head of the bank, which later became the Merchants-Laclede National Bank. Yeatman was well-known among St. Louisans as a philanthropist and civic leader. He resided on East Grand Avenue near Bellefontaine Road.
An idea of the appearance of the Yeatman area in his day can be obtained from Compton and Dry's pictorial atlas of St. Louis, published in 1875. This work, by a series of birdseye views, shows this neighborhood to have been well built up in its eastern and southern sections with homes of the well to-do and upper middle class. A few mansions were interspersed among smaller detached single family dwellings in the area south of Easton Avenue. North of that, row houses became prevalent in a neighborhood that was about 75 percent built up.
North of Cass Avenue and west of Jefferson, as far north as North Market Street, were largely vacant areas with some industry evident. Beyond North Market Street to St. Louis Avenue and west toward Glasgow was a compact area of small detached dwellings in the Penrose Tract. On present day
Madison Street, east of Glasgow Avenue, was the Penrose Public School, while north of Madison and west of Glasgow, as far as Garrison, was a large quarry.
A horse car line ran out Cass Avenue with a branch running north on Glasgow and thence west on St. Louis Avenue. Fronting on Montgomery Street, east of Grand, was the large Mullanphy Hospital in a section of open land pocked with sink holes and relatively underdeveloped.
At this time, the land north of Morgan Street (now Delmar) and west of Compton was largely vacant up to Grand Avenue. Some large houses were located on the east side of Grand, as far north as Franklin Avenue, northward from there were open fields as far as St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, north of which was the John N. Booth estate at the southeast corner of Grand and Page. Beyond that were a few blocks of houses as far as the horticultural establishment of J. M. Jordan near North Market Street.
A few prominent landmarks in the Yeatman area in 1875 were the Veranda Garden road house at the Easton-Franklin wedge; the large house of General William T. Sherman on Garrison north of Franklin Avenue; Divoll Public School on Dayton Street; the American Wine Company at Cass and Garrison and St. Mark's English Lutheran Church on Elliott Avenue at present day Cole Street.
Outstanding residences were the Glasgow Homestead at Garrison and Sheridan Avenues, the mansard style mansion of L. M. Rumsey at Beaumont and Morgan Streets and Governor B. Gratz Brown's house on Webster near Sheridan.
The earliest public park was Gamble Park on Dayton and Gamble Streets, east of Garrison Avenue. This 1.15 acre open space was acquired from the City Water Department in 1874. Yeatman Square covering 3.46 acres on the block bounded by Glasgow, North Market, Magazine and Leffingwell, was purchased by the City in 1906 for $40,000. During the 1950's, Jordan W. Chambers Park at Compton, Franklin and School Street; and Garrison-Branter-Webster Park, bounded by streets of those names, were developed.
Three Roman Catholic parishes are associated with the Yeatman neighborhood. These are St. Bridget of Erin, St. Alphonsus Liguori and St. Leo. Earliest of these was St. Bridget's whose first church was erected in 1853 adjoining the site of the present church at the northeast corner of Jefferson Avenue and Carr Street. The present church was dedicated on December 2, 1860 and is built in a mixture of Gothic and Byzantine styles.
By the 1880's, the older brick church was used as a school for boys in charge of the Christian Brothers. The girl's school was situated in a four story building on the northwest corner of Jefferson Avenue and Carr Street. It had 12 rooms and a capacity of 700 pupils.
In 1883, the parish contained about 5,000 persons, mainly Irish from nearby Kerry Patch. For 36 years the parish flourished under the esteemed Father William Walsh. Remains of early settlers were interred in the church basement at the order of Archbishop Kenrick when the old Lucas Cemetery at Seventeenth and Franklin was removed. By 1933, one of the old parochial school buildings had been razed and the other accommodate a depleted enrollment. The original Irish residents had moved elsewhere and the congregation was then composed of diverse nationalities.
In-1927, after the Kenrick Seminary's building was destroyed by a tornado, that institution relocated at St. Bridget's and remained there until 1930 when it moved to its present location. St. Bridget's parish served the nearby public housing complexes before their decline and currently is in the midst of a predominantly black neighborhood.
St. Alphonsus Church at Grand and Finney Avenues was erected by the Redemptorist Fathers, one of whom, Father Louis Dold, prepared the building plans. These were later modified by architect Thomas Walsh. The structure was occupied in an unfinished condition on November 30, 1868 and was dedicated on August 4, 1872 by Bishop Ryan. It remained as a mission church until September 1, 1881, when it was created as a parish by Archbishop Kenrick.
The gounds front 389 feet on Grand Avenue with a depth of 430 feet along Cook Avenue. Built in the Gothic style, the building is popularly known as the "Rock Church" from its walls of rough dressed limestone. It is a large, impressive edifice 80 feet in width and 180 feet in length. Above the main entrance rises a tower and spire 225 feet in height; :flanked by two smaller towers each 75 feet high, above the aisle entrances. The church contains five altars, under the main one rests the relics of St. Abundius, a Roman martyr.
The cornerstone of the parochial school was laid in August, 1882. It was a three story brick building with a large hall on the upper floor. Due to declining enrollment this building was razed in recent years.
"Rock Church" is well known for its shrine of the Mother of Perpetual Help, originally built of wood in 1873 and replaced by a marble shrine in 1893. In 1894, the spires and bells were added to the church and a copper plated cross, 19 feet high and weighing 1,500 pounds was placed atop the center spire. The church's auditorium has three naves separated by rows of graceful Gothic columns. An interesting note is that while founded by Germans, the parish population was originally largely Irish.
St. Leo's Church was founded as the result of the golden jubilee of Pope Leo XIII, which was celebrated in St. Louis by a six mile long procession of 50,000 persons on Rosary Sunday in 1888. Rev. Jeremiah J. Harty, then assistant pastor of St. Bridget's saw opportunities for a new church in the, then, sparsely settled area to the north of Cass Avenue. He was appointed as pastor of the proposed church by Archbishop Kenrick and the first services were held in a modest structure on Twenty-third Street just north of Mullanphy Street about five weeks later.
Cornerstone laying ceremonies for the present church, on a lot adjoining the original structure, were held on September 1, 1889. The new building was of early English Gothic architecture with brick walls and three arched entrances The church auditorium was notahle_because it has no supporting columns. Its ceiling was hung from heavy arched beams. The St. Leo Church group of buildings was demolished in 1978.
Some years after completion of the church, the parochial school was erected at a cost of $50,000. During the pastorale of Rev. James T. Coffey (1904-1931), who was an ardent foe of liquor, a parish house called Temperance Hall was built next to the church. It was later used as a community center.
Beaumont Street Baptist Church was an outgrowth of the Jefferson Mission at Twenty-fifth Street and Franklin Avenue, which was established in 1859. The church was organized in 1866 with 57 members mostly from Second Baptist. Its meeting place was in a chapel at the northeast corner of Beaumont and Morgan Streets, a one story building seating 500 persons. In 1876, the church merged with Second Baptist and its hall was rented to the Bethlehem Evangelical Church and in 1879 was sold for conversion into a Turner Society hall.
Earllest of the black Baptist churches in St. Louis is the First Baptist organized in 1833 after the white congregation of tnat name became extinct. Its first pastor was the Rev. Barry Meacham, who came here from Virginia after purchasing his freedom from slave holders. As he prospered here as a cooper he was able to buy his family's freedom also.
By 1836, Rev. Meacham owned two city houses, a farm in Illinois and two steamboats. First Baptist's earliest location was on Almond (later Valentine) Street between Fourth and Fifth. In 1885, the congregation moved to the former Third Baptist Church building at 1320 Clark Avenue, where it remained until it occupied its present church at 3104 Bell Avenue in 1920.
An interesting facet of church relocations can be seen in the fact that the present home of the First Baptist Church was formerly occupied by another church with a background in the Yeatman area. That church is St. Mark's English Lutheran, which was organized in 1867 at the home of a member at 1116 North Twentieth Street. Its purpose was to form a Lutheran church where the services would be given in English rather than German. The first house of worship for the group was in a Doric style brick buidling at Wash Street and Elliot Avenue.
It was dedicated in January, 1872 after designs by C. S. Artaugh. Membership increased so rapidly that larger quarters became necessary and in 1880 a site at the southwest corner of Bell and Cardinal Avenues was acquired. The new church, designed in the English Gothic style by C. K. Ramsey, was dedicated on October 1, 1882. It featured an amphitheatrical shaped auditorium seating 800 persons. St. Mark's Church occupied this building until 1920, when it moved to the present location at 6337 Clayton Road. At that time the name of St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church was adopted.
For many years the City's oldest high school was located at 1030 North Grand Avenue at Windsor Place. Central High School, oldest west of the Mississippi, was founded in 1853 and from 1856 to 1893 was located at Fifteenth and Olive Streets. In the latter year it moved into a Victorian style brick building designed by Furlong and Brown, at the North Grand location. It occupied this structure until the building was wrecked in the tornado of September, 1927, in which five students lost their lives. The building was damaged beyond repair and Central High was relocated in the former Yeatman High building on North Garrison Avenue, where it had been housed for about a year while the Grand Avenue building was remodeled. Ironically, the building was reoccupied for only two weeks before the tornado destroyed it.
Hadley Technical High School began in the old Central High annex in 1929 and in November, 1931 it occupied a large industrial type school structure at 3405 Bell Avenue. It was named for Herbert Spencer Hadley; a former governor of Missouri. A gymnasium and auditorium annex was added to the school in 1955. Later, the building became the home of Vashon High when that school was relocated from its former building on Laclede Avenue. Hadley has been superseded by the O'Fallon Technical High School on Northrup Avenue west of Kingshighway, which was opened in the late 1950's.
Earliest of the elementary public schools to serve the area was the Stoddard School at Ewing and Lucas Avenues. The building was not in the Yeatman area, but its district overlapped into it as far north as Easton Avenue. Built primarily to serve the northern portion of Stoddard's Addition, the school was opened in 1867. It was a three story brick structure of twelve rooms accommodating 700 pupils. Similar in size and appearance was the Penrose School on Penrose (now Madison Street) near Glasgow Avenue, opened in 1868.
Next school built in the area was Divoll at 2918 Dayton Street, opened in 1872 and still in use. Somewhat larger than its contemporaries, the Divoll building had a capacity of 800 students. It was named for Ira C. Divoll, an early school superintendent and founder of the public library system. An addition, designed by Ernest T. Friton, was built in 1934.
In the western part of the Yeatman area, the Wayman Crow school was completed in 1882 at 3325 Bell Avenue. Originally named for a well-known St. Louis educator, it is now titled in honor of George Washington Carver, who was born a slave, but later became a scientist and benefactor of mankind.
A new Penrose School was erected on the site of the older one at 2824 Madison Stteet in 1894. This building, now abandoned, was later renamed in honor of W. P. Curtis, a pioneer dentist and physician. In 1949, the Curtis branch school was opened at 2825 Howard Street, followed in the next year by the Divoll branch at 2908 Dayton Street. In 1912, the Glasgow School was completed at 1415 North Garrison Avenue, from designs by William B. Ittner. It is presently named for Paul Lawrence Dunbar, an American poet. A branch school for it was finished in 1951 at 3018 Brantner Place. The Columbia School at 3120 St. Louis Avenue was completed in 1929 and was considerably enlarged in 1935.
A prominent institution in the Yeatman area for many years was the Mullanphy Hospital, operated by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and named for its benefactor. Originally founded in 1828 at Fourth and Spruce Streets, the hospital occupied a large building on Montgomery Street east of Grand in 1874. This structure was damaged in the tornado of 1927 and two years later a move was made to the new De Paul Hospital building at 2415 North Kingshighway. The old building was then converted into the Ozanam Shelter for Men. In recent years it has been razed and its site is now occupied by an apartment project.
The Central Y.M.C.A. moved into a new building on the northeast corner of Grand Boulevard and Franklin Avenue in 1897, where it remained until the structure was destroyed by fire in 1921. Its present headquarters at 1528 Locust Street was occupied in 1925. The association has been operating in St. Louis since 1853 and met in downtown churches in its earlier years.
An entertainment fixture in the area for many years was the Odeon Theater at 1038 North Grand Boulevard. The theater and building were originally erected as a Masonic Temple in 1904. It lost its identification with that order in 1926 when the new Masonic Temple on Lindell was completed. The Odeon was the scene of many operatic and classical music presentations and was the home of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for a long period. In 1927 the two top floors of the five story building were destroyed by fire and following two more fires in 1935 the 3,000 seat theater was razed.
Public Service Facilities
An important facility serving the public in the Yeatman area is the Jefferson-Cass Health Center which was opened in 1958. Another public service institution is the Arthur J. Kennedy Skill Training Center at North Market Street and Leffingwell Avenue completed in 1974. Carver House Community Center has been located at 3035 Bell Avenue since the 1930's. Adjacent to the Divoll School is the Gamble Community Center, which was opened in 1938.
Residential, Commercial, and Industrial
Yeatman area is primarily residential in character, its housing stock consisting of buildings built well before 1920 . They are about 80% multi-family flats of brick construction, with a serious deterioration problem. Many have been torn down or vandalized. Conversely, considerable rehabilitation has been accomplished in the area by the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood group. About 25% of the area's units are owner occupied and practically the entire population is black. In the western part of the area is the Arthur A. Blumeyer public housing project, in a combination of high and low rise buildings. It is one of the most recent complexes of its kind to be opened in St. Louis.
With few concentrations of commercial use, the area is characterized by deteriorating commercial strips along streets such as Easton, Jefferson, Cass and Grand. At one time, the Jefferson-Franklin intersection was a strong commercial center with a bank, theater and various stores. At present, the east side of Grand, north of Cass retains a semblance of normal commercial activity which is declining. On the south this strip borders on the midtown business district and is adjacent to Powell Symphony Hall.
Industries are scattered in the midst of the neighborhood and some plants have been abandoned and are vacant. A few of the larger plants in the industrial nucleus, west of Jefferson and south of St. Louis Avenue, have relocated in St. Louis County. One of these was the Coca-Cola Company, whose large bottling plant buildings have been razed. In 1969, Brown Shoe Company opened a plant at Jefferson Avenue and Gamble Street which provides employment for neighborhood residents. A large warehousing complex is operated by the Board of Education adjacent to the Vashon High School on School Street. Another industrial plant of importance is the Warner-Jenkinson Company on Baldwin Street and Leffingwell Avenue. A former industry, which dated back to the early days of the area, was the American Wine Company at Cass and Garrison Avenues.
Because of its location northwest of the City center and about midway between downtown and the Fairgrounds, the Yeatman area was well served by public transit from its inception. Originally on the route of horse drawn omnibus lines to the Fairgrounds in the 1850's, the area was crossed by the horse car lines which superseded the omnibus in the 1860's. The principal transit line serving the area was the Citizen's Railway Company, which operated three branch lines through the district. Its Cass Avenue line ran west on Cass to Glasgow and thence northwardly to St. Louis Avenue, where it turned westward to beyond Grand Avenue. The Northern Central branch, which later became the Natural Bridge line, ran out Biddle Street to Jefferson and thence over Gamble, Leffingwell, Thomas, Garrison, North Market and thence west to Spring Avenue and north to the Fairgrounds. Citizen's Railway Company's principal line operated on Franklin and Easton Avenues through the area and west to Wellston. Horse car lines also operated on Jefferson and Grand Avenues on the Yeatman area's eastern and western edges.
In 1886, the St. Louis Cable and Western Railroad built a cable car line which ran westwardly from downtown on Locust Street and then over Thirteenth, Lucas, Fourteenth, Washington and Franklin to Vandeventer and Morgan, where it connected with the narrow gauge steam railroad to Florissant. In 1891, the cable on the line was worn out and the company decided to electrify its entire line from downtown to Florissant, a distance of eighteen miles. Reorganized as the St. Louis and Suburban Railroad Company, it operated the longest electric car line in existence.
All car lines in the City were consolidated into the United Railways Company after the turn of the century and in later years all of its routes were converted to motorbus lines.
Scharf, J. T. - "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 - "St. Louis Development Program" - 1973
St Louis Board of Aldermen - "Rapid Transit for St. Louis" - 1926