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

Period 1 - The Walking City (1820-1869)
Urban House Forms

Other Urban Vernacular Types

Charleston House

A Charleston house is a unique house form in which what appears to be a three-bay house is in fact only two: the third bay is a wing wall, extended to shelter a two-story side gallery. The additional bay not only provided privacy for the occupants, but added considerably to the house's street presence. Entry was from the side; in a two-family house, stairs led from the gallery to the second floor unit. This house type derives its name from the city of Charleston, South Carolina, where it seems to have developed.

The brick house at 909 Geyer, in Soulard, has a door on the east end of the front facade, with a gallery behind. The building reflects its Federal roots in the corbelled cornice, and rectangular stone lintels. The second story porch enclosure is probably a later addition.

Gable Front Houses

Gable front houses have a gable roof, running perpendicular to the front facade, displaying a decorative gable end to the street, and may be of one, one-and-a-half or two stories in height. This configuration appears with several different floor plans. It evolved out of the Greek Revival architectural style, the most prominent feature of which was a large, front-facing central pediment. Placing the narrow end of the house towards the street was especially appropriate for urban areas where the lots were long and narrow.

The two-story brick house at 7120 Michigan, constructed about 1860, has on the first story an entry placed to the left, balanced by two long, narrow windows, their sills nearly reaching the ground. On the second story, three more windows are arranged symmetrically across the facade. Like most gable front houses, this one undoubtedly had additional classical ornament from the Greek Revival style, perhaps pilasters and window lintels, which have been removed or obscured by when the front facade was painted. The porch is a later addition.

Flounder Houses

The flounder, sometimes called a half-flounder, is a house type which appears to be unique to St. Louis. The flounder is a narrow house, usually two or two and a half stories tall, and one or two bays wide. Entry was most often from the side elevation, which sometimes had a two-story gallery. Since these houses were exclusively working class homes, decoration was limited, confined to segmental arched windows and perhaps a corbelled cornice. Flounder houses were especially appropriate for dense neighborhoods, where space was at a premium. They were often constructed as alley buildings, sharing a lot with as many as two larger tenement buildings. Flounder houses can be found in the City's oldest neighborhoods, Old North St. Louis, Hyde Park and Soulard.

The brick house at 3810 Kosciusko Street, in the Broadway-Marine neighborhood, is an unusual flounder house in that the roof is not a half gable, but a half gambrel. The house is situated with the gable end parallel to the street. The entry is on the side elevation, and flanked by two windows. The half story above has two dormers, and a delicate brick cornice with dentils. The enclosure which projects above the entry porch is not original.

The two-story brick house at 1825 South 9th Street in Soulard is a more typical flounder example. Like the house on Kosciusko, the narrow half gable end faces the street. There is a two-story side gallery, and a side entrance. The house is set well back from the street, along the alley.

The Back-To-Back Houses

A common house type in urban areas of St. Louis from 1830 through 1870 is the back-to-back house. These houses are comprised of two rooms aligned one behind the other. The front entry opens into the first room, which usually leads directly into the second, although there may be a narrow side passage. These houses ordinarily have a gable roof, with the entry at one end of the front facade, balanced by one or two windows.

The house at 3802 N. 25th Street is a detached, single family house. The recessed entry is located to the right of the front facade, with two windows to the left. The house has a gable roof with centered dormer, Baltimore chimneys, Italianate detailing, bracketed cornice and segmental arched windows. An unusual feature of this house is a projecting bay on the side elevation.

909 Allen Street is a two-family house; each unit has a four-panel door and narrow transom on the front facade, flanked by a single window. The building has a gable roof, with chimneys at each end.

Back to back houses could also be constructed in rows, like the Steins Row, in the 200 block of Steins Street. The house has German coursed stone construction, with six-over-six windows and flat arches. The row consists of four individual houses, each with two rooms. Three of the four units contain a single door with a window on one side; one has a central door flanked by two windows. Originally, each house had a small dormer opening into a loft area; some have been removed.

Narrow Front Houses

The narrow front house type was more prevalent during the Walking City period than is apparent today. Usually brick, with a hipped roof, the facade facing the street was only two bays wide, although the side of the building, which contained the entry, could be of considerable length. The brick house at 3833 South Jefferson is representative of this house type. The front facade has double hung windows and a simple corbelled cornice; the side elevation has pilasters between each window bay.

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