Grand-Bates Suburb Historic District
The Grand-Bates Suburb Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2005, The Gombach Group.
While the earliest extant building in the Grand-Bates Suburb Historic District dates to circa 1860, the vast majority of the buildings date to the first three decades of the 20th Century. During this time, the District evolved from a largely rural area at the fringe of settlement in the city to a densely settled commuter suburb. The period during which the District grew straddles two phases of historic suburb development and reflects patterns that are typical of neighborhoods that relied entirely on streetcar transit as well as patterns that illustrate increasing reliance on the automobile. Development became possible with the arrival of the streetcar system in 1893 on the District's eastern border and began in earnest following a consolidation and improvement of the system in 1899. While much of the eastern portion of the district was built for working-class streetcar commuters, the construction of the city's first and only recreational driving parkway through the area (initiated in the District in 1907 and completed by 1912) changed the dynamics of development. Designed by noted landscape architect George Kessler, the parkway brought what was then a unique residential environment to St. Louis and attracted upper middle-class homeowners and automobile enthusiasts/commuters to its bordering subdivisions. Finally, the early implementation of bus transportation on the western boundary of the District along Grand Boulevard (beginning in 1923 and intended to take the place of a much anticipated streetcar extension) fixed the neighborhood between transit routes and facilitated continued transit-related residential and commercial development. The District is primarily residential and the streetscapes retain a high degree of historical integrity. Commercial buildings are primarily confined to Grand Boulevard though occasional corner storefronts are situated at intersections along pedestrian pathways to the Bellefontaine streetcar stop. [see: Streetcar Suburbs, 1888 to 1928]
Many of the building-types and arrangements in the District are typical of working- and middle-class streetcar suburbs in St. Louis as documented in the South St. Louis Historic Working- and Middle-Class Streetcar Suburbs as the Gravois-Jefferson Streetcar Suburb Historic District, which borders the current District to the northeast, and the St. Cecilia Historic District, which is located directly across Bates Street to the north. Streetscapes are almost exclusively composed of one- and two-story brick buildings which, on a block by block basis, possess similar lot sizes, materials, setbacks, and styles and often owe their resemblance to a frequent recurrence of architects, builders, and developer/owners. Most of the blocks are oriented on an east—west axis, though some irregularities exist due to earlier historical platting. The blocks are universally bisected by alleys and are connected by a regular street grid. Many streets retain stone curbs and original paving bricks are intact in some alleys. The period of significance (ca. 1860-1949) begins with the earliest contributing building and ends with the last buildings that, through form, scale, and style, are sympathetic to the surrounding streetscapes and are relevant to the overarching historical narrative.
Architectural forms and styles in the District are, generally speaking, similar to those found in neighborhoods of comparable age throughout the city of St. Louis. The narrow, one story, single-family shaped parapet houses that are common to the blocks closest to the streetcar stop are typical of other areas of Carondelet (mostly to the east of the District) as well as areas of both north and south city. They reflect a market for modest single-family homes among working class commuters, and indicate a taste for ornamentation that reflected many of the same revival styles that were popular among the wealthiest of city's residents at the time.
Many of the multi-family units, primarily two-family flats, that date to the earliest period of significant development in the District also reflect this affinity for revival styles, though ornamentation that reflects the growing influence of the Craftsman aesthetic is somewhat more common on these types of buildings as their construction dates advance into the 20th century. Two and four-family brick flats with flat roofs and revival style or Craftsman details are easy to find in St. Louis and reflect the aesthetic preferences of residents and builders. They also reflect a housing form that was well-suited to the need for dense working-class settlement within close proximity to the streetcar lines.
The blocks that were settled primarily after 1910 in the District reflect a growing dominance of Craftsman style in the preferences of builders and residents. They also reflect the maturation of the neighborhood and the arrival of a more middle-class demographic. In some blocks, building forms remained essentially unchanged, in others Craftsman ornamentation became unequivocal and often quite eclectic. Flat-roofed multi-family buildings were often given false gables, half-timbering, and glazed-brick accents. More expensive single family homes begin to eschew the traditional flat roof of 19th century St. Louis in favor of gables, often covered with eye-catching materials like green-glazed terra-cotta tiles. Brick houses with full-width limestone porches and glazed brick lozenges appear on wide lawns, especially along Bellerive Boulevard. While some preference for earlier, more conservative styles remained well into the first decades of the 20th century, the abundance of Craftsman style buildings reflects the rapid and widespread adoption of this popular aesthetic among residents of the District and St. Louis at large at the time.
The earliest extant subdivision in the District was platted by landowner James S. Thomas in 1871. In addition to several blocks on the north side of Bates Street (outside the District), Thomas' subdivision contained present day blocks 2866 north, 2868 east and west, and possibly 2865. This subdivision was followed in 1873 when C.D. Sullivan platted city block 2958 as part of a subdivision named "Central Carondelet" (at the southern edge of the District), and Ann Aymond subdivided some of her family land in city blocks 2903, 2904, 2906. The only homes surviving from the 1870s or earlier are a frame shotgun house at 6111 Alaska (an outlier creeping up from development toward the southeast) and a log cabin that has been incorporated into 6012 Louisiana (the history of which is presently unknown).
In the 1880's through about 1890, small frame cottages began to appear in the District. These humble homes can be attributed to working-class individuals taking advantage of inexpensive land at the fringes of settlement around Carondelet. Of the ten contributing buildings built between 1880 and 1890 in the District, eight are small frame houses with gable-roofs. Frame was the dominant construction method for the earliest residents though it is rare overall. There are only 17 contributing frame buildings in the District, a majority of which were built in 1890 or before. One exception to this pattern is the commercial/residential building located at 442 Bates. Dating to 1886, this brick building was probably constructed as a tavern or store by a German immigrant named Hartmann Mueller. It was strategically placed close to the intersection of Bates/Pennsylvania (a major east-west country road) and Stringtown Road (Virginia) a roughly north-south, farm-to-market road between Carondelet and St. Louis.
Between 1892 and 1897 eight more extant buildings were constructed in the District. While three of these were either one- or one and one-half story gable-front frame houses (6101, 6105, 6107 Louisiana) the other five were of brick masonry construction. The transition to brick as the dominant building material was complete by 1900. While most buildings constructed in the district prior to 1900 were small working-class frame dwellings, two unusual examples of large single-family brick homes built in 1895 stand at 518 and 522 Dover. Robert Bausch apparently built 518 Dover, but by 1900 druggist Frederick Pike lived in the home with his family. Jeweler and watchmaker Charles Gauen constructed 522 Dover and continued to live there with his family through the 1920's. When these homes were built, they would have towered above virtually all the buildings in the District. They also represented a level of confidence in the future of development in the area on the part of their owners that was at least a decade ahead of its time. They did however foretell the future of some parts of the District in both their scale and materials.
In 1903 the congregation of the Carondelet Christian Church (now Dover Place Christian Church) bought property at the corner of Dover and Alabama (701 Dover Place) in the District. The land upon which the church sat was originally subdivided some time prior to 1883 when the estate of Bartholomew Berthold broke up his land. Berthold's heirs owned a large tract which spanned the District approximately between the current locations of Bellerive and Wilmington; because this land was re-platted in 1893 and again in 1917, the original arrangement of lots no longer exists. At the time when the church property was purchased, the land along Dover in the District was virtually empty with just a small cluster of three extant buildings in city block 2896 situated close to the streetcar stop to the east. Historian NiNi Harris quotes one parishioner who wondered, "If we build a church this far out, will anybody ever find it?"
This scene of pastoral potential would not last long. An electric powered streetcar had been traveling along the eastern edge of the District since 1893 and development, though slow to start, was rising toward a frenetic pace.
Like many major American cities during the first half of the 20th century, the development of new and better transit systems drove the expansion of St. Louis into its unsettled corners. From the late 19th century through the early 20th century, the city underwent a revolution in the extent to which people were able to move about and thus to choose where they lived, worked, and played. The history of intra-city mass-transit in St. Louis can be traced to the wagons (known as omnibuses) that ferried people and goods from the riverfront landing areas into the city's business and hotel districts. In 1843 a horse-drawn omnibus line began running from Third Street and Market in the central business district to the ferry landing on North Market on the city's north side. By 1859, as many as ten street railway companies (also horse drawn) operated throughout the city and by 1886 the first cable car line was put into service. Within two years, the first of the electric street car lines was implemented. This rapid transition led to a chaotic situation whereby, in the early 1890's, horse car lines, cable car lines, and electric street car lines were all in operation simultaneously throughout the city. Mass transit in the city was far from an integrated system and many different companies operated many different services with varying degrees of efficiency, convenience and safety. The more transfers one had to make, the more difficult a trip became and those people living at the far ends of streetcar lines bore the brunt of the system's shortfalls.
The electric street car quickly came to dominate transit in the city and the system underwent consolidations and expansions in 1899 and 1907. By 1910, the system had essentially reached its peak in terms of miles of track (346 miles), and in 1914 a universal transfer system was put in place. The universal transfer improved convenience immensely by enabling passengers to travel across the city on many different lines for a single fare. The closest streetcar stop to the District was at Wilmington and Compton, about one block east of the northeast corner of the District (now completely cut off by the interstate). This stop was served by the Bellefontaine line and would have been an easy five or ten minute walk from anywhere in the District.
While the streetcar arrived in the area in 1893, home construction in the District remained basically stagnant for several years. During this time, the first of the real-estate developers that would contribute to the growth of the District began moving in and staking claims on the land closest to the streetcar stop. In 1893 portions of Berthold's Subdivision were re-platted by Dover Place Real Estate and Investment Company. The orientation of the lots was changed to front along Dover (east-west) rather than along the state streets (north-south). This change set the standard orientation of lots for later subdivisions in the northern half of the District. In 1903, John McDermott, a lawyer who was active in real estate and was secretary of the Wilmington Investment Company platted McDermott's Wilmington Place Addition in city blocks 2906, 2907, and 2910. In 1906, Frank J. Fendler, a contractor and developer who lived in the area and worked prolifically throughout south St. Louis and Carondelet, platted an eponymous subdivision in the southern half of city block 2896 and 2898. These first developer-driven subdivisions were clustered around the east ends of Wilmington and Dover and were planned to provide easy access for residents to the streetcar stop immediately to the east of the District (less than a long block away) at the corner of Wilmington and Compton.
Following the resolution of a transit strike that shut down the streetcar system in 1900, working class homes began to rise in these subdivisions. For example, on city block 2907 in McDermott's Addition, 23 extant single-family residences, three multi-family residences, and a corner storefront were built between 1903 and 1908. The owners, builders, architects, and developers were a repetitive cast of characters well-known in early development circles in the area. The Fendler family had a hand in seven buildings as architects, builders, and/or owners; members of the Degenhardt family designed, built, or owned nine more, and Caspar P. Branner, of Branner Brothers Construction built a corner storefront. Branner lived just south of the District on Idaho and had been working in the area since at least the 1890's as a carpenter. The Degenhardt's contracting business originated in hardware, lumber and stair-building interests in the area in the late 19th century. By the first decade of the 20th century they had expanded to include design services, contracting, and speculative construction; the families lived in Carondelet. The Fendlers were also developers who lived and worked in the Carondelet area. Frank J. Fendler was a carpenter who began operating in Carondelet in the late 19th century; his son John Pascal and his stepson William grew up as his apprentices. After attending school to become a draughtsman, John struck out on his own in 1907; William and Frank also primarily worked independently in the 20th century, though often on adjacent lots. Local developers like these men played a major role in the design, construction, and financing of most of the homes in the District.
The owners of lots and buildings in McDermott's Addition were investors for the most part. Landowner John McDermott himself owned two of the properties, J. P. Stolz invested in five homes and the Wilmington Iron Company built two as well. The single family homes that they built are primarily one-story, one-or-two bay wide brick houses with simple shaped parapets typical of working-class housing in the area at the time. Early examples can be found at 714, 718, 722, and 724 Wilmington; all built by William J. Fendler for investor J. Beckart. Early examples of two-family housing units in the subdivision include a one-story building with two living quarters side by side (801-03 Fillmore, built 1904), and a two-story flat (712 Wilmington, built 1908). The final touch for the block was a corner commercial building at 706 Wilmington that residents would logically walk past on their way to and from the streetcar. Similar arrangements are found in the other early, streetcar-dependent sections of the District. For example, across the street on city block 2898 the Fendler family constructed and owned 17 out of 18 homes between 1906 and 1907; examples can be found at 709, 711, 715, 723, and 725 Wilmington. Once again, Caspar Branner was responsible for building a corner storefront at 701 Wilmington strategically placed between the homes and the streetcar stop. The eastern portion of Dover began to develop at this time as well with contractor David Schumacher constructing thirteen two-family flats mostly for Dover Place Real Estate and Investment Company in city block 2898 between 1906 and 1911; a typical example can be found at 706 Dover.
This pattern of constructing dense working-class housing close to the streetcar stop is typical of St. Louis inner streetcar suburbs. In the District, it continued throughout the first decade of the 20th century with 129 contributing buildings constructed. Almost all of these are brick working class housing types such as single-family, one-story, shaped parapet houses and two-family, two-story, townhouse-plan flats. As the neighborhood quickly developed, the Carondelet Christian Church built a temporary sanctuary on their land at 701 Dover in 1907. The question of whether anyone would be able to find the location, posed by one of its congregants back in 1903, had apparently been answered.
While proximity to the streetcar was an important element in the development of the first blocks in the District, other factors began to enter the equation as early as 1902. Bellerive Boulevard (known as Kingshighway Southeast when constructed in the District) is a portion of the earliest residential area in the city whose creation was predicated upon the use of the automobile. It is also one of the few areas in the city that fully reflects its history as part of the Kingshighway Parkway; a City Beautiful legacy that has been largely degraded and forgotten in other areas of St. Louis.
Development was well underway by the first years of the 20th century though lingering public perception of the area surrounding the District as rural and unpopulated can be inferred from a statement made in 1903 by the Kingshighway Commission. This commission had been appointed the year before by Mayor Rolla Wells to explore the creation of a parkway system for St. Louis. It described Carondelet Park (immediately south of the District) as "...a beautiful park..." though it lamented that the existence of the place "except by name, is known to but a small percentage of the inhabitants of St. Louis." This idea was reiterated in a 1907 publication authored by a booster organization known as the Civic League, which stated: "Few of our citizens ever visit Carondelet Park...because for vehicles there is no adequate approach and the street car line is three blocks from the entrance." This clearly describes a transitional area with access to a streetcar and a major city park, but inadequate roads and low population density. The combination of cheap land and streetcar access was changing this and the placement of the Parkway would only help.
The Parkway was born, in part, of City Beautiful ideas that were popular around the turn of the century among social progressives, architects, and city planners. It was widely postulated at the time that the moral, physical, and economic health of a city's residents could be improved by access to parks, recreation, and natural beauty. In accordance with these ideas, St. Louis purchased thousands of acres of parkland in the latter third of the 19th century, and progressives were constantly agitating for park improvements and related reforms. These assets and the persistence of City Beautiful advocates paved the way for a frantic period of planning and development in anticipation of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (World's Fair) and the St. Louis Olympic Games in 1904. In the hopes of increasing public access to the substantial city park system for both residents and visitors alike, and impressed by the parkway system implemented in Kansas City in 1893, the mayor appointed the Kingshighway Commission to oversee the creation of a parkway system for St. Louis.
The Kingshighway Parkway plan was published in 1903 and the commission described the finished product not only in terms of its capacity to facilitate transportation, but also in terms of its capacity to contain a populace that was inexorably moving ever further from the city's center. The Commission was afraid that mass transit via steam railroads and electric streetcars was encouraging people to settle in linear patterns that hurt the city's core. As a solution, they advocated the importance of an automobile parkway system as a way to keep people in the city by filling in the gaps between the settled transit lines and major arteries. The section along Bellerive between Compton and Grand (through the District) is a perfect example. By the time the Civic Improvement League of St. Louis published A City Plan for St. Louis in 1907, which included the Parkway in a comprehensive program of beautification and infrastructure upgrades, a significant amount of money to begin work on the project had been appropriated. Among the ways in which the League conceived the parkway system would benefit the city were its capacities to furnish "pleasant drives [for] those who can afford these luxuries..." and its ability to "[add] to the value of real estate." While many working-class citizens thought the plan was "a scheme to benefit St. Louis' automobile and property owning class," and political wrangling held up its completion (in a reduced form) for thirty years, portions of the parkway (like the section running through the District) were implemented quickly. Real estate developers were swift to buy and subdivide lands along the route as confidence in the city's commitment to the project grew.
In 1908 the city implemented the first phases of parkway construction by purchasing a piece of land along the bluff-line at the foot of Caldwell Street in Carondelet; originally dubbed Riverside Park, it was renamed Bellerive Park in 1918 for Louis St. Ange de Bellerive. The parkway began at this park on the bluff and headed west over Broadway along the former Caldwell Street. Westbound Caldwell Street at the time ended at Virginia Avenue, and the city secured a right-of-way through the District to continue the street through to Grand. The new road truncated the empty blocks of the old Berthold Subdivision and paved the way for a complete re-organization of the lots into a public recreational drive and residential enclave the likes of which were previously unknown in the city. A generous green median was reserved down the center of the street creating divided traffic. In addition, wide tree-lawns (between the street and the sidewalk) were carved out on both sides of the road and landscaped according to Kessler's design. With proper development, the portion of the Parkway that cut through the District had the potential to become a showcase of beautiful homes and wide lawns that could help to sell the idea in settled parts of the city where construction would be much more disruptive and complicated.
Confident of a populous future for the area, the St. Louis Board of Education purchased a full city block (2869) along Bellerive in the District in 1907 and erected a three room temporary school building originally known as the Alabama School. The selection of the school site seems to have clinched the viability of the area and developers shortly began the second wave of subdivision and construction in the District. In 1910, The Grand Kingshighway Park Subdivision was created on the north side of city blocks 2866, 2867, 2870, 2871, and 2873 by a partnership between the Berthold Investment Company and the Wellworth Realty Company. The new subdivision spanned the length of the south side of Bellerive in the District and continued on to the east across what is now the Interstate. The lots in this subdivision were more expansive (though not of totally uniform size) than the working-class blocks further south, and were intended to accommodate more spacious homes. Homes were also set further back on the lots in an effort to create a verdant environment surrounding the street. The land to the east of the school on the north side of the street had been subdivided in 1871 by early landowner James S. Thomas, but the vacant lots fronting the new street were re-organized, enlarged, and made compatible with their new neighbors. In 1912, the two blocks to the west of the school were platted as the S.E.
Kingshighway Park subdivision by the heirs of Henry Ottensmeyer, another early landowner. This subdivision featured lots that were neither as wide nor deep as those across the street, but were nevertheless sufficient to maintain the intended park-like atmosphere. Within ten years of the creation of the latter subdivision (begun 1912), more than 75% of the extant homes along Bellerive in the District were constructed.
Like the streetcar-dependent blocks further south, professional developers based in Carondelet and south St. Louis played a significant role in the speculative construction of homes along Bellerive, though owner occupant homes were common as well. Once again, the names of builders Fendler and Degenhardt are common as are others such as Wehrle, Rieser, and Free's Building and Contracting Company. These individuals and companies are commonly listed as architect, builder, and/or owner on many properties. In an effort to emphasize the newness of the area, many builders and owners opted to abandon the traditional flat-roof brick home of south St. Louis and instead began constructing gable- and hipped-roofed homes in the popular Craftsman style. An early example of a bungaloid home in the District can be found at 740 Bellerive, and a two-story Craftsman home at 942 Bellerive; both date to 1914. As time went on, the Craftsman homes became more eclectic and examples such as 732 and 952 Bellerive (both dating to 1921) began to occur. An interesting, if not surprising aspect of the homes along Bellerive, is the very common occurrence of private automobile garages constructed either along with the home or within a brief period thereafter. An excellent example of a contributing automobile garage can be found behind 700 Bellerive, among the oldest homes in the subdivision constructed in 1912. This feature differentiates these homes from those constructed for transit-dependent working-class residents in the east of the District and indicates the greater importance residents along Bellerive placed upon the automobile.
The area grew rapidly between 1910 and 1920, though there was an almost complete pause in development during World War I; only two contributing homes were constructed in 1917 and none at all were built during 1918. Despite this temporary drop in construction, confidence in the area remained high. The Dover Investment Company re-platted city blocks 2900 and 2902 on the west end of Dover Street in 1917 and 138 contributing homes were built in the District during the decade. The west end of Dover Street appears to have benefited from the successful development of Bellerive as upper middle-class single family homes were constructed along it during the same period. These homes were built on smaller lots than those along Bellerive, but they were similar in scale, design, and ornamentation. As usual, many of these homes were built as investments by developers, and many familiar builder/architects like J.V. Kinney and various Degenhardts appear on building permits. One difference is that developers seem to have worked on a smaller scale on Dover and usually constructed no more than two homes on a block. For example, owner/investor A. Meyer hired architect L.J. Graham to design two Craftsman-style homes in 1919 at 920-924 Dover, and H. Franke designed and owned two bungaloid houses at 950 and 958 Dover in 1919 and 1927 respectively.
As the number of residents in the District increased, so did investment in institutions and infrastructure. In 1915 a new church and a new office/telephone exchange for Bell Telephone were built. The church was constructed by a peripatetic congregation of the Carondelet Methodist Episcopal Church (organized in 1877) at what is now 900 Bellerive. The congregation chose the name Kingshighway Methodist after the parkway on which the church was situated. Though the original building was a temporary structure, by the early 1920's the congregation was confident enough to build a permanent home and selected the noted St. Louis architectural firm of Bonsack and Pearce to design the current building. The cornerstone of the church was laid in 1924. The Bell Telephone Company of Missouri (later consolidated as Southwestern Bell) constructed its Riverside Central Office and Exchange at what is now 822 Wilmington. The building was designed by architect I.R. Timlin, an architect who often worked for Bell telephone in the Midwest and southwestern United States.
Woodward School went through a rapid series of expansions during these decades as residents flooded into the area. After starting with three portable frame school buildings in 1908, the number increased to thirteen temporary buildings by 1915 and the building was renamed after Calvin M. Woodward. Woodward was a prominent St. Louis educator and academic who served on the Board of Education. By 1920 it was apparent to the Board of Education that a large and permanent school was justified to serve the residents of the District and architect Rockwell Milligan, the Commissioner of School Buildings, was tasked with the design. The current Woodward School was completed in 1922 and the building's dominant presence and prominent situation along Bellerive added an important physical and cultural anchor to the neighborhood. The rapid growth of the school from a temporary three room building in 1907 to a permanent 25 room building in 1922 is an excellent indication of the rapidity with which the surrounding District grew.
Some of the growth in the District was no doubt driven by the belief that the Grand Boulevard streetcar line would be extended from its southern terminus at Meramec Street (approximately nine blocks north of the District). The United Railways Company (which operated the streetcar system) had been having financial problems since the turn of the century and essentially stopped extending its lines in 1904. This stagnation continued throughout decades of significant population growth in the city and the District as well. People complained about crowding on the lines in addition to insufficient or inconvenient access to far-flung subdivisions (many of which were built in anticipation of improvements in streetcar service). As early as 1907 people began clamoring for better service to the ever-extending neighborhoods; the inadequacies of the system were particularly apparent in the northwest and southwest fringes of the city. Despite the company's unwillingness or inability to meet these demands, people continued to develop areas that were beyond the ends of, or poorly served by, street-car lines. They did so under the assumption that the streetcars would eventually serve them. While the District was well connected via the Bellefontaine line on its eastern edge, it is fair to say that many people who built homes in the western blocks were anticipating an extension of the Grand Avenue line.
The track extensions never came, and a great deal of resentment built up against the United Railways Company, especially because it essentially enjoyed a transit monopoly in the city. In 1923, the People's Motorbus Company rolled into the space that this discord created. The buses competed so successfully with the streetcars that the next year United Railways was forced to take action, forming the St. Louis Bus Company to operate in conjunction with the streetcars. This move was calculated to help revive flagging revenues and sagging reputation in areas of the city and county that needed better services. Among the new routes pioneered by the People's Motorbus was one that ran along Grand Boulevard south from the streetcar terminus at Meramec Street. Traversing the western edge of the district, this line began operation on November 9, 1923 and it received a warm reception. The buses had an immediate impact on crowding on the Bellefontaine streetcar line, which began to see ridership decline that year after decades of growth. The Carondelet News stated of the bus: "It supplies...very much desired transportation service for residents along Grand Boulevard and in the vast districts adjacent thereto, the residents of which district have been clamoring for 25 years for transportation service, but whose appeals met with no response from the streetcar company. The bus line...solves the transportation problem for the district north of Carondelet Park."
House construction continued at a rapid pace throughout the 1920's with another 203 contributing buildings rising in the District between 1921 and 1929. The vast majority of these were single-family Craftsman style homes in the central and western blocks. This pattern reflects the western-moving trend of settlement in the District as reliance on the single Bellefontaine streetcar was supplemented by the use of the automobile and bus-transit.
In the 1930's construction in the District trailed off with a mere 15 contributing residences. This decline was not due to a lack of demand for housing in the area, but rather reflected the national financial downturn and a simple lack of space in the already densely settled District. In 1932-33 the congregation of Carondelet Christian Church (since renamed Dover Place Christian) constructed their current building. Designed by Theodore Steinmeyer at 701 Dover, the church was a fitting addition to the maturing neighborhood. Between 1940 and 1942 another 11 homes were built before construction came to an abrupt halt during the war years. In 1946 and 1949, another 15 contributing homes were constructed, but that brief post-war period would add the last contributing buildings to the District. Things had begun to change in St. Louis. The city was on the verge of a major demographic and cultural shift that would culminate in a departure from building styles and settlement patterns that had created the city suburbs up to that point. The Bellefontaine streetcar shut down in 1947, and the move to outer, automobile-dependent suburbs was underway. Though the city population hit an all-time high in 1950, (an increase of five percent) that decade saw the population of St. Louis County grow by 48 percent. The census of 1960 confirmed the severity of the trend with a 12.5 percent decline in the population of the city from 1950. In the same period, the population of St. Louis County rose by 73 percent. This demographic shift heralded a grim future for many city neighborhoods, and signified the entrenchment of a suburban automobile culture in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Most homes constructed after 1950 in the city limits (in general) and in the District specifically are small, modest infill homes or Ranch style buildings that are not compatible with their surroundings in scale, design, or materials. Fortunately, these homes are rare and comprise a widely scattered 5 percent of buildings in the District.
† Andrew B. Weil, Researcher, Landmarks Association of St. Louis, Grand-Bates Suburb Historic District, St. Louis, MO, nomination document, 2008, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.