Speedwa School Annex, 1923

From an eBay listing for a postcard is this image of the former Speedwa School Annex building at Hebert and Grand Avenues. The original Speedwa School (a stenography school) still stands at Sullivan and Grand (one block south), but this building, a simpler and more utilitarian breed, was demolished in July 2009. Depicted above with a general store/grocer in the bottom floor, it appears from wall signage that the building continued in that use for some time.

From the Geo St. Louis city site is this photograph (circa 2007). Prior to its demolition, it had been a vacant brick building for at least 20 years. It is now a vacant gravel lot.

Old National Hotel, ca. 1935

From the Historic American Building Survey is this photograph taken by the Piaget-van Raavensway team in the 1930s. Although not as imposing as other structures taken down at the riverfront, this particular building would have been ripe for historical tours. The Old National Hotel was built in 1847 on the site of the former Old National Hotel, which in turn had been built in 1831 (on the site of the first Protestant church in St. Louis). If the building had been saved, it would immediately become one of the oldest buildings in the area, and certainly the oldest standing hotel in the city.

But that's not all. Bear me a brief history lesson.

In 1846, the Whig Party had succeeded in getting a candidate elected to the United States House of Representatives from the state of Illinois; indeed, he was the only Whig from Illinois in the Congress. The man was tall, gaunt, and rather stiff when posing for his first photograph -- a daguerreotype, to be precise. The elections were held in late 1846, but the the first session of the 30th Congress did not actually begin until December 1847. Thus, to arrive in time, the man left Illinois on October 25, 1847, with his wife and two young boys in tow.

He had been to the big city of Chicago in July 1847 (then the home of some 25,000 souls). He also had been to New Orleans in 1831 on a flatboat (even in 1831, home to some 45,000 people). Memphis, also on the Mississippi, housed only some 10,000 in the 1840s. St. Louis was massive by comparison. In October 1847, at least 75,000 people teemed in the city's narrow streets. French, English, German -- all tongues mixed in the metropolis of the West. Thus, the biggest city of this man's life now lay before him, as he waited to board a train bound for the East Coast. In the coming years, he would take a stand against the Mexican-American War, return home to Springfield, return to elected office in 1860, and lead the nation through the worst crisis in its history. In October 1847, he was only beginning that journey. And at the start of that journey, on October 28, 1847, he stayed at the Old National Hotel.

Abraham Lincoln upon his election to Congress, 1846

The Old National Hotel, located at Third and Market streets, was demolished for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in 1948.

Republican Building, 1887

From The Industries of Saint Louis by J.W. Leonard (1887) is this drawing of the Republican Building, a fine Second Empire built at 3rd and Chestnut in 1873 (two blocks north of the Old Cathedral), after a disastrous fire in 1870 destroyed the previous building. The designers were Thomas Walsh and Edward Jungenfeld, who incorporated a cast iron facade on the lower two stories and hydraulic pressed brick on the upper three stories. A festival and speechmaking marked the opening of the building in January 1873. As a nod to the fate of the previous Republican Building, the 1873 form had several fireproofing options -- iron ceilings, cement floors (covered in pine), fire hoses on every floor, and water tanks were kept on the premises.

It appears the fireproofing lasted until the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial demolitions.

Saint Louis Liederkranz, 1907

From an eBay listing is this lovely postcard of the Liederkranz Club at 2626 S. Grand, which opened in 1907. This club building, in turn, was demolished and the location is now the home of an Always Low Price Store (ALPS). The previous location (at 13th and Chouteau) is now a vacant lot. See the previous post for more information about the Liederkranz.

Saint Louis Liederkranz, 1887

From The Industries of Saint Louis by J.W. Leonard (1887) is this drawing of the Saint Louis Liederkranz Hall, a German cultural and musical organization building. The Liederkranz Hall was home to a variety of meetings and conventions (in addition to its primary purpose as a music/stage venue), located at 13th and Chouteau streets. At some point, the main Liederkranz Hall was demolished, but the St. Louis Liederkranz Club lived on at 2626 S. Grand Blvd. (see the next post for a lovely postcard).

Incidentally, the Liederkranz of New York City remains as a prime example of this fine tradition (http://www.liederkranznycity.org/home.asp), operating a choir, theater, and vocal competitions.

Fenton Mounds, 2001

On the subject of burial mounds, it ought be noted that the hamlet of Fenton itself was graced with a set of mounds. Conversely, the mounds were not graced by the hamlet of Fenton. For a thousand years, mounds containing the remains of those who once walked the Earth were sacred ground.


In 2001, the Fenton Mounds were demolished. For a photograph, click here:

Brookings Hall, 1904

From Connecticut at the World's Fair (1904) is this photograph of a Connecticut state band at the then-administrative building for the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition.

Connecticut Building at the 1904 World's Fair, 1904

From Connecticut at the World's Fair, Report of the Commissioners from Connecticut to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, 1904.

The Connecticut General Assembly voted $100,000 for the exposition, divided up as follows:
Education -- $7,500
Shell-fish -- $1,000
Farm products -- $7,000
Pomological (fruits -- primarily apples and walnuts) -- $4,000
Dairy -- $2,500
Tobacco -- $1,500
Horticulture -- $3,000
Ceremonies and Dedication Week Festival -- $25,000
Connecticut Building -- $30,000
Furnishings -- $7,500
Commission expenses -- $3,000
Sundries (other items) -- $2,500
Building maintenance -- $2,500

If the entire building cost $30,000, then the $1,000 exhibit on shellfish must have been quite the show.

Custom House and Post Office, 1878

From The Pictorial Guide to St. Louis (1878) by Camille Dry is this sketch of the old custom house for St. Louis, located at Olive and Third streets (parts of which are visible in other images on the site). Old Custom House was demolished in the 1930s as part of the Jeffersonal National Expansion Memorial.

Washington University in St. Louis, 1879

From Switzler's Illustrated History of Missouri (1879) is this sketch of the original Washington University in downtown St. Louis.

Mounds in Forest Park, 1903

From The Cahokia and Surrounding Mounds by David Bushnell (1904) is this stunning set of photographs of the Native American mounds originally located in Forest Park. The mound shown above, 3.5 feet high and 55 feet in diameter and noted as Mound F on the map below, was one of several demolished during the preparations for the World's Fair. Evidence of human remains was found in several (but not all of the mounds). Given the lack of vegetation, it seems likely that slumping occurred to a number of the mounds (as most were under 5 feet high).

Bushnell writes that the photographs were taken at the ridge of the bluff in the park, near a bend in the River Des Peres. According to a map of the area from 1897 and 1903, that bend became the western corner of the waterway formed as part of Post-Dispatch Lake (the pool of water at the bottom of Art Hill). Bushnell stated that a set of small, low-lying mounds dotted the landscape near the river, while a set of taller mounds stood atop Art Hill. See map below for Bushnell's sketch of the locations of the mounds:

Here is a photograph of the low-lying mounds (unidentified as to which one it was). Any remnants of these mounds appear to be long gone.

The Big Mound, 1869

From Switzler's Illustrated History of Missouri 1541-1877 (1879) comes this sketch of the largest Native American mound built in St. Louis near the time of its demolition in 1869. The Big Mound, as it was known, was near the intersection of Broadway and Mound Street in Old North St. Louis. It stood at least 30 feet high, was 150 feet in length, and had three terraced approaches facing the river for religious ceremonies. At one point in the 1820s, a small resort building was constructed at the top of the mound. Artifacts were found during its demolition.

Its only rival in size was the mound demolished to make way for Col. John O'Fallon's mansion in the 1850s. In 1875, ten years after O'Fallon's death, his mansion burned; it was demolished completely in 1893. The site is now O'Fallon Park.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, 1875

From Leaves from the history of St. Alphonsus's Church (1895) comes this photograph of the church prior to the addition of its steeple in the 1890s.

From Dry's Pictorial St. Louis (1875) comes this spliced image of two plates, showing St. Alphonsus Liguori in its earliest days. Note the lack of characteristic spire and no rock wall surrounding the building.

Interesting fact about St. Alphonsus: according to the Leaves from the history of St. Alphonsus's Church (1895), the altar was centered over one of the abundant Native American mounds that once dotted the St. Louis landscape. The mound was leveled to make way for the church.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, 1895

From Leaves from the history of St. Alphonsus' Church (1895) comes this splendid picture of St. Alphonsus Liguori Church at Grand and Finney avenues in North St. Louis. St. Alphonsus lovingly was nicknamed the "Rock Church" since its construction in the early 1870s. The 237-foot spire was added in the early 1890s, hence the booklet on the church.

The engraving, incidentally, was done by Sanders Engraving Co., located at 400 N. 3rd Street in 1895. More engravings and photographs to follow.

Central Public Library, 1919

From The Modern City by the League of American Municipalities (1919) is this fine photograph of the relatively new Central Library, designed by Cass Gilbert and built in 1912.

Shaare Emeth Congregation, 1878

From The Pictorial Guide to St. Louis by Camille N. Dry (1878) is this fine drawing of the Shaare Emeth Congregation's temple at the northeast corner of 17th and Pine streets. The reform Jewish congregation purchased the land and built a temple in the late 1860s, and it continued to occupy the building until the late 1890s, when it moved to the corner of Lindell and Vandeventer, reflecting changing attitudes about fashionable areas of the city. By the 1920s, the congregation population had shifted further west -- this time, Shaare Emeth moved to University City (at 6840 Delmar). By the 1960s, a still-migrating congregation permitted the sale of the University City temple, and Shaare Emeth currently holds services in Creve Coeur.

It is unclear when the Temple at 17th and Pine was demolished. The site is now home to the Plaza Square Apartments.

View of Locust Street east of Beaumont, 1917

From the Problems of St. Louis by the City Plan Commission (1917), showing Locust Street east of Beaumont Street (in the foreground). A vigorous and lively street is present in 1917; few of the buildings remain (shown in blue below):

View of Pine Street east of 12th, 1917

From the Problems of St. Louis by the City Plan Commission (1917) is this photograph of the "irregular" heights of buildings along Pine Street in the early 20th century.

Below is the same image -- extant buildings are marked in blue.

N. 12th and St. Charles, 1917

From the Problems of St. Louis by the City Plan Commission (1917) is this photograph of 12th Street looking north at the intersection of St. Charles and 12th. This particular image is to encourage the arcading (selective amputation) of the two large buildings seen in the distance in order to widen 12th Street as an arterial road. Extant buildings are shown below in blue:

Washington Avenue, 1917

From the Problems of St. Louis by the City Plan Commission (1917) is this view of Washington Avenue, including trolley line and street traffic. Any thoughts on the intersection would be appreciated.

View of Olive Street from Broadway, 1917

From the Problems of St. Louis by the City Plan Commission in 1917 comes this view of Olive Street looking east from Broadway. The City Plan Commission pamphlet tells the reader of the problems of having too much traffic downtown, and it laments the 30-foot-width of the streets in old St. Louis. Perhaps going from 30-foot-wide streets to no streets and no buildings is an improvement, but it doesn't seem like what the City Plan Commission wanted.

Southern Hotel, ca. 1875

Built in 1866, the Southern Hotel was the premiere luxury hotel for business travelers and the well-to-do in post-war St. Louis, located at the corner of Walnut and Fourth streets. Although the location depicted above burned to the ground in 1877 (taking the lives of 21 people), a new hotel was built in 1881. The heroism of Phelim O'Toole was shown at the fire, when O'Toole personally saved the lives of a dozen people. The second Southern Hotel closed in 1912, and was demolished in 1933. The photograph was taken by R. Benecke, portrait and landscape photographers located at Fourth and Market streets, and was located online via eBay.

Ninth and Bremen Avenue, 1936

From the Historic American Buildings Survey, photograph taken in September 1936 by Theodore LaVack of the Adolphus Meier home at the corner of Ninth Street and Bremen Avenue. The Meier home was built in 1842 at the heart of what would become New Bremen, Mo., which was later annexed by the city of St. Louis.

The Meier house no longer exists. Indeed, the corner of Bremen and Ninth no longer exists; instead St. Louis has the I-70 Frontage Road and the Community Wholesale Tire Distributing Company. Adolphus Meier, it was said, was a very charitable man. He made his fortune in the cotton mill industry.

2721 Pine Street, 1936

The Walsh House, built in 1833 for Julius Walsh, was located at 2721 Pine Street.
From the Historic American Buildings Survey by Theodore LaVack, taken on September 1, 1936. The Old Walsh Mansion, as it was known, was used by the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church from 1935 to 1947, when the building was vacated. In 1951, the Walsh House was demolished and the site is now surface parking.

Old Cathedral, 1934

From the Historic American Buildings Survey, this photograph was taken by renowned St. Louis architectural photographer Alexander Piaget on April 9, 1934. Within a few short years, everything surrounding the Cathedral, including the street itself, was torn up and destroyed.