A Preservation Plan for St. Louis
Part II:  Property Types

Period 1 - The French City (1764-1819)

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American Architecture

At the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1804, there were only two American families living in St. Louis; the majority of the other residents were French Canadians or Creole families from New Orleans. Up to the War of 1812, immigration from the American states was slow. In 1811, the population had increased to 1400; there were twelve stores, two private schools and a printing office. Market House, which served as City administration offices in addition to the city market had been constructed in 1809 on the town's public block. But after the war, more settled conditions dramatically increased the immigration of Americans, coming from almost all the eastern states: primarily Georgia and Maryland, but also New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New England. By 1818, the number of American residents had exceeded French, and St. Louis' population reached 3,500. There were forty stores, three banks, a post office, brewery, and several mills. In the year 1818 alone, one hundred new houses were constructed.

Instead of adopting the existing French building forms, Americans brought their own with them. The houses they built in the new town were those familiar to them from the east.

Thomas Riddick House

The Thomas Riddick House was built in 1818 at 617 South 4th Street. It is a two-story brick house, 4 bays wide, in the model of the three-quarters house popular on the east coast. It is completely American in form and detailing: tall and rectangular, the front gallery has been eliminated; a medium-sloped gable replaces the French pavilion roof, and the house has American double hung windows instead of casements.

The original village of St. Louis is almost completely lost. There are no known French colonial structures still standing in the City of St. Louis: the last one was probably demolished by 1900, although similar houses, like the Biquette-Ribault House can be seen in various stages of conservation in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. The creation of the Jefferson National Expansion Monument eliminated most of the original street pattern of the French village as well. Only in Laclede's Landing between the Eads and King bridges, and in parts of Chouteau's Landing, south of downtown, is the early street grid perceivable. The French village left its mark also in the line of one or two western streets: sections of Jefferson near Washington follow the original western edge of the St. Louis Prairie; North Grand Boulevard corresponds to what was the Grande Prairie's east side. And since each narrow individual farm strip was laid perpendicular to the boundary, streets in the area west of North Grand follow the old lot lines of the Prairie.

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