It's too cold to do much of anything rehab-related on the outside of the house, I don't have any projects currently planned for the house's interior, and I just started a new job - always a little chaotic - so there isn't much to talk about as far as the house goes.
But the other night I went down a wild internet rabbit hole and got kind of fixated on old pics of local houses, which turned into wanting to really investigate what remains of the neighborhood's building stock dating back to 1883.
As such...here we are.
I live in a neighborhood called Compton Heights, which is more or less defined by Grand Avenue, Lafayette Avenue (in 1883; now I-44 is the border), Nebraska Avenue, and Shenandoah Avenue. In 1876, per the Compton & Dry Topographical Survey, this area was home to the water reservoir and a few large houses but was still relatively undeveloped.
By 1883 the area had been somewhat platted, although the platting changed to accommodate the curvilinear section of the neighborhood, which was way ahead of its time. I-44, completed in the early 1970s, eliminated several neighborhood blocks.
During the early days of St. Louis' rapid population expansion the area was highly desirable due to its proximity to the city's central business district while still being a safe distance from downtown's industrial activity, and the vast majority of the neighborhood was developed between 1890 and 1910.
But what remains from 1883? And what existed back then that no longer exists now? That's what I want to take a look at. Using the 1883 map - the 1876 map is a lot cooler to look at but because the area was still so undeveloped it takes forever for me to figure out house addresses - I'll go block by block and see what I can come up with.
Starting in the upper left corner of the 1883 map, there were 3 structures shown in blocks 1367 and 1368.
All 3 structures appear on the 1876 map, and look like a small commercial building and 2 small homes.
The 2 houses were gone by 1903, and weren't notable enough for their to be any easily accessible record of their history. The structure on the corner, however, was significantly added onto in 1895 by the Griesedieck brewing family and still stands today. Amongst local history aficionados the structure, seemingly an eating/drinking establishment since it's initial construction, is primarily known as the home of "Pelican's Grill", a restaurant operated by James Pelican (born Demetrius Spiros Pelekanos) from 1938 - 1956, and until 1975 under different ownership.
The building was listed as a city landmark in 1976, although it fell on hard times for several decades afterwards, including a fire intentionally set on the first floor in 1985 by the building's financially distressed owner, who then committed suicide in the building's basement.
Several years ago the building was rehabbed and now has new life as a Domino's Pizza on the 1st floor, with a large apartment building fronting Grand just to the north. A coffee shop is planned for the empty storefront space between Domino's and the apartments, but given the Starbucks 2 blocks to the south, it'll be interesting to see if that development pans out.
So...the building at the corner of Grand and Shenandoah definitely predates, albeit with major alterations, my house's construction in 1878. I doubt more than a handful of existing neighborhood buildings can say the same thing, but this is 1 that can.