Cheltenham Neighborhood Overview
Information concerning the neighborhood history, characteristics, institutions and organizations, planning and development.
The Cheltenham neighborhood is defined by Oakland Avenue to the north and Manchester Avenue to the south. Macklind Avenue forms the eastern edge and Hampton Avenue, the western edge.
Cheltenham traces its roots back to 1798. In the 1830s the Sulphur Springs resort was established and the neighborhood was named after the manager’s birthplace. But in the latter half of the century this meaning was lost, as Cheltenham became synonymous with firebrick. This change ofdirection was greatly due to the extension of Pacific Railroad line to Cheltenham in 1852. Because of the accessible transportation, the availability of high-quality clay, and an immigrant labor force, around a dozen companies eventually joined the community’s earliest and largest manufacturer, Laclede Fire Brick Company, which was established in 1844. In addition to its claim to fire brick fame, the neighborhood was also the leading producer of sewer pipe in the nation by 1889. The community around the industry grew steadily as Irish, Italian, German, and Polish immigrants came to work in the mines and factories.
The community was a center of education long before the Forest Park campus of the St. Louis Community College opened. Near the site of the old Arena was the campus of the Forest Park University from 1891 to 1927. It was founded in 1861 as the Kirkwood Seminary by Anna Sneed Cairns and was the first university in the United States to be chartered solely for women.