17 Westmoreland Place, 1902

From "Palaces of St. Louis," National Magazine (Volume 17, October 1902). The home of John T. Davis at 17 Westmoreland was described as a "red granite chateau" by Mr. Hoch in the National Magazine. 17 Westmoreland was more than a mere chateau, however. It boasted of being the first Missouri home to be landscaped by Frederick Law Olmstead when built in 1894. The home was and remained the most expensive ever built on the street, and possibly was the most expensive home ever built in St. Louis. Julius Hunter et al in Westmoreland and Portland Places note that the "cutting of the pink granite alone would have cost a fortune."

Update: In 1894, 17 Westmoreland's construction costs exceeded $800,000. In the spirit of determining the price of the home in today's dollars, I found that using the GDP deflator, the cost of the building would have slightly exceeded $18.5 million. Using the Consumer Price Index, the home would cost approximately $21 million. Only one home is on the market in the St. Louis metropolitan area that exceeds a $10 million price; no other homes have sold in the last 60 days for greater than $10 million. The current estimated value of 17 Westmoreland is around $1.3 million, which is, considering construction costs, quite the bargain.

Later, the home was inhabited by Dwight Davis, the namesake for the Davis Cup tennis championship. In a stroke of tragedy, the masterwork was not seen or long inhabited by designer or patron - original homeowner John Davis died of Bright's disease in 1894, while the architect died the previous year. However, the home is now in the capable hands of Mrs. Mary Strauss, the owner and restorer of the Fox Theatre.

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