Don’t you love images like this one? It is a stretch of Manchester that is familiar to all of us who live in or near Maplewood. Recognizable but almost completely different from the way it looks today. We are looking west down Manchester. The intersection is that of Laclede Station Road. I have never seen an image of the cool filling station that was once on the northwest corner. Notice that it is a Phillips 66 station. The 66 was for Route 66, the mother road that ran straight through Maplewood. The cars are from the mid-1930s. The original Route 66 was so designated from 1926 through 1933. This image is almost certainly of the original Route 66. Perhaps by the time this photograph was taken the alignment (as they are known) had been moved to Watson a couple of years earlier. No matter. The view wouldn’t have changed much. The NE corner today is the location of the Aldi’s supermarket. The Volvo dealer occupies both the SE and the SW corners.
In June of 2004, Maplewoodian Greg Rannells, a direct descendant of Charles and Mary, was allowed inside the old family home. He took the images featured in this post and was kind enough to let me copy them. Before receiving these from Greg neither I nor anyone else involved with the effort to save Woodside had seen the inside of it. As the reader can see it was in rough shape but surprising to those of us who love old houses was how much of the original fabric remained. The years spent as a nursing home had caused a few modifications to be made, of course. But beneath the later year add-ons much of the 1848 home remained. Readers unfamiliar with this story can find out much more about it from the following links. Woodside and the Rannells Family
Edward “Ned” Rannells of Woodside
The Historic Papers of Woodside 1838-1914
On Edward “Ned” Rannells
Jeremiah and Ann Aston Warder
Or by purchasing one of my books. Maplewood History, Volume Two is available at Scheidt Hardware at 7320 Manchester. Volume One is available at the Chamber of Commerce just a few doors west at 7326A, 314-781-8588. There is a steep flight of stairs inside but you probably need the exercise. It’ll be worth it. If you’re not up to the stairs, just holler and I’m sure they will toss down a copy for you provided you leave the correct amount of cash or I imagine they may have one of those other much more modern ways of exchanging money which I don’t know anything about but I can’t say for sure. Let me know.
When smoke spewing Big Boy #4014 blasted through Maplewood on August 30 thrilling hundreds of steam engine buffs, railroad fans and curious onlookers; it was a reenactment of an evolution of an event that probably first occurred 167 years ago. I don’t know yet exactly when the first steam engine passed through James Sutton’s farm as the Pacific Railroad pushed west. It may have been 1854. According to the Summer 1994 issue of the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis, Historical and Technical Society, Inc., “the Pacific Railroad built through the area” (meaning the Sutton farm) in 1853. According to information from Joe Sonderman’s Facebook page, Vintage St. Louis & Route 66, this first engine reached “Sulphur Springs, (Cheltenham) … present day Hampton and Manchester” on December 9, 1853.
If you are a follower of this space you will already know that three of my last four posts have been about Woodside, Maplewood’s oldest home and the Rannells family that built it and occupied it for 70+ years. If you don’t know this you can find out by examining the following links. Woodside and the Rannells Family
Edward “Ned” Rannells of Woodside
The Historic Papers of Woodside 1838-1914
On Edward “Ned” Rannells
In this post, I’m displaying some material generously sent by a descendant of the Rannells family, Ms. Rachel Potter. These images are of exceedingly rare and early items that we are very fortunate to have a look at. To help you orient yourself, I’ll start with a Rannells family tree that was provided to me by Elise Todd. In 2017, I received a number of very interesting emails from Ms. Potter. To these she attached images of paintings, photographs and even pages from Ann Aston’s will. I will excerpt them here in the order received. The first arrived on January the 23rd. I had written somewhere in an earlier post that there may have been a family home in England that was named Woodside. I no longer remember the source of that information but Ms. Potter believes that it is incorrect. The next email arrived on January the 27th.
Triptych definition is – a picture (such as an altarpiece) or carving in three panels side by side. Not long ago some of the folks at the Schlafly Bottleworks asked if I would be interested in helping to design a display based upon the history of Maplewood for the inside of their brewery. I was and I did. What I came up with is a triptych of composite photographs of scenes that could be seen at some time in the past from their front door. These images are meant to be hung side by side and read from left to right or in your case top to bottom. These images are 16×20 inches which means what you’ll see on your telephone has to be greatly reduced. I hope they display well for you.
If you are a follower of this space you will already know that my last three posts have been about Woodside, Maplewood’s oldest home and the Rannells family that built it and occupied it for 70+ years. If you don’t know this you can find out by examining the following links. Woodside and the Rannells Family
Edward “Ned” Rannells of Woodside
The Historic Papers of Woodside 1838-1914
In this post, I’m including some of the material obtained from the newspapers regarding Ned Rannells. I am also having a look at a couple of images, I believe were in his possession. Ned was born in 1854 and passed in 1920. His father, Charles, passed in 1877. His mother, Mary Warder, passed in 1896. This is great. I can say for certain that Ned Rannells, from what would one day be Maplewood, was a cowboy participating in the cattle drives in the 1800s that have been mythologized by countless articles, books, movies, and TV shows. He was there and I’d bet he’d say it was no picnic.
Among the documents and photographs in Ned’s tin box were a couple of images that I noted but didn’t pay much attention to at first. One was a stereopticon card of San Xavier cathedral south of Tuscon and the other was of the Casa Grande ruins not far from there. You run into these things in family papers that at first seemed unconnected to the story. Then I realized that Ned was in that area as a cowboy. A little more research showed that the images were produced during that period. I surmise he brought them back with him or sent them home as souvenirs.
One of the many interesting things that have happened out of the effort to save Woodside involved the Rannells family papers. This collection is a wide variety of legal papers, household and farm receipts, cancelled checks and documents of many different kinds. The papers of Charles Rannells dated from 1838 to 1865. There are also many papers that were generated from the activities of his wife, Mary Warder Rannells and his son, Edward W. Rannells. Edward’s are the latest with the most recent dating from 1914. Charles passed in 1877, Mary in 1896 and Edward in 1920.
Long summer days and beautiful weather (to a heatophile) conspire to keep me away from my computer until the last hour or two before I turn in. As I mentioned in my last post, I have accumulated a large amount of information on one of our earliest pioneer families, the Rannells. It is my intention to post as much of this material as I can. For this reason I thought it worthwhile to refresh my readers’ memories by posting these pages from my latest book Maplewood History, Volume Two. Please keep in mind that the more of you who spring for a copy of my latest book, the less this adventure will wind up costing me when it is all said and done. Your purchase will be helping me to pay for this retirement hobby of mine that I am sharing with you. Due to my lack of experience with or understanding of eBay, my book is no longer available on that site. I don’t know what venue would be the best way to sell it over the internet. If you do, I’d appreciate the advice. I also don’t know anything about these more modern ways of exchanging money that I have heard just a little about. Meanwhile, I better get to bed so I can get up early enough to be at the pool when it opens at 11 this morning. As always, I appreciate your interest and support.
Longtime followers of this space may remember that for about 17 years I and many others were involved in several schemes that were designed to keep Woodside, Maplewood’s oldest home, standing. Due to the efforts of many, Woodside has not only survived but has been beautifully restored by her new owners. Over the course of that long project, I met many members of the Rannells family whose ancestors built Woodside. They generously shared a very large amount of the historic documents, artifacts and images that they had carefully preserved. I intend now to post as much of this material as I possibly can. I think a good way to bring everyone up to speed is by posting a couple of chapters from my latest book, Maplewood History, Volume Two, copies of which are still available from me or Scheidt Hardware (True Value to you newcomers) and on eBay.
Aren’t those pretty? If you like the looks of these pages, you can get all 177 of them neatly contained within a softcover for only $35 or a hardcover for only $50. If you live close enough, I’ll be happy to deliver. Or you may just want to make it over to Scheidt Hardware at 7320 Manchester. The books were available on eBay but have disappeared. I think I’ll try listing them on Amazon. And remember I designed these books to become valuable collector’s items. They are printed and assembled by some of the best folks in the area. Only the highest quality paper was used.
It has been 15 years since the first Let Them Eat Art event in 2006. Sometime before that I recall standing in front of one of the most famous paintings in America, Grant Wood’s American Gothic, and thinking that if the old white farmhouse in the painting was Woodside it would be completely restored and tour buses would be pulling up in front of it. Such is the power of art. Woodside (2200 Bredell) is the oldest building in Maplewood that we know of. It is safe today but in 2006 it was badly deteriorated and in danger of demolition. Finding the money to restore it seemed like an impossible dream. Additionally, the Maplewood Mill buildings were for sale. Owned for nearly 100 years by the prominent Blood family they would soon have a new owner. I wanted the community to know that the chimney and cyclone dust collector were part of the historic fabric of the site and should be preserved. They were both structurally sound. I began to think of ways that the dust collector might become a feature to be appreciated. Who better to ask than artists? I have written about this so I won’t repeat the struggle here but you can link to those writings. I thought that we needed an art event in Maplewood which would allow me to farm some of the artists for ideas. Fortunately a new community development director named Rachelle L’Ecuyer had recently been hired. I called her and told her Maplewood should have an art event. She had been thinking the same thing and suggested Bastille Day. Jay Schober named it, Let Them Eat Art. The first year was wild. We had very little money so we divided up and canvassed the business community for donations. I still remember how much I was able to raise. $0. Despite that frustrating beginning, many other things went well.
OK. Now where were we? When I ended Part Three, we left Lillian and her husband, Edmund, standing in the doorway of their store on the NW corner of Big Bend and Flora. The year was 1914. Perhaps we should back up a little further. I’ll refresh your memory with the blockbuster photograph that appeared in Part One. That image (which follows) was taken in 1904 at the NE corner of Big Bend and Manchester.
The creation of the National Building Arts Center in Sauget, Illinois is the result of a lifelong effort by a Maplewood native, Larry Giles. Larry once told me that he lived on Bredell near Woodside when he was a young boy. He and his friends explored the surrounding area with curiosity that was sometimes dangerous. They played on slag heaps left by some unknown industrial operation near the location of the present day Loew’s store. Larry also explored the original mid-19th century Bartold’s Inn building once located at the Sunnen site. By then it was abandoned and standing open. About 1960, he found a painting of the Inn in one of the rooms there. This same painting he gave to me to add to our collection of historic artifacts at the Maplewood Public Library. He preserved the painting in good condition for 60+ years. Larry also insisted that there was no cave behind the building. He said the back walls of the lower rooms were the solid bedrock of the hill.
In 2002, Larry Giles paid a visit to a commercial art studio in Soulard named Fishing Creek. Recently retired, I was interning there with the idea of possibly becoming a sculptor. The Fishing Creek folks were bartering with Larry for some recycled steel trusses that they used to add a second floor in one of their buildings. We had never met but I had followed his projects for decades in the newspapers. Following that initial meeting, I got to know and become friends with Larry who was surely one of the most amazing individuals that I will ever meet. He was an architectural salvor and savior. Put simply he acquired a vast collection of the most important architectural artifacts from many of the most important buildings that were ever built in St. Louis and beyond. Eventually he consolidated his vast array of treasures at one location in Sauget, Illinois as a nonprofit named the National Building Arts Center whose mission is to educate the public on all aspects of the building arts. I am not exaggerating to say Larry was a genius many times over. One might think that removing parts from crumbling buildings is coarse, dirty work and it is. It is also complicated, very dangerous and can be very high off the ground as well. Many of the projects that he conducted (and it was mostly him) are mind blowing in scope.
This post contains another blockbuster historic Maplewood image. This is the final post of the Lillian Weber Herold collection and what a collection it is! The number of very fine images is impressive and there are still quite a few to view including the blockbuster promised earlier. Here are the links if you would like to review Part One or Part Two of this series. For Part Three I have endeavored, once again, to put the images and information in chronological order where possible. This next image is not the blockbuster I advertised but it almost is. Any images of Bartold’s Grove are treasures. Many must have been made but I have found so few. OK.
Theo. Weber and family moved to Maplewood from Kirkwood about 1903. My first post contains the images and documents that pertain to the Kirkwood years. This second post has mostly images from their years in Maplewood. If you haven’t seen my first post on this fantastic collection you should do that now. Part One. One of the last images in my first post is one of Lillian Weber made in the “Summer of 1902.” On the back she has written, “20 years old, Kirkwood – Mo, Main St.” The image of their home and business in Maplewood, that set me off on this adventure, has “Built 1903” written on the face of it. Let’s start with that image again.
That is 21 images and I still have quite a few more to post. Even though I promised another blockbuster image this time, it will just have to wait until next post, The Amazing Lillian Weber Herold Collection – Part Three.
A short time ago Dan Fitzgerald at the Brentwood Historical Society forwarded to me two images he had received from a descendant of Lillian Weber Herold. They knocked my eyes plumb out! So to speak anyway. Dan was kind enough to connect me with this descendant who in turn was kind and trusting enough to share with me and my readers one of the largest and best organized collections of family photos and documents that I have ever seen. These images are so important and so rare that I feel a deep responsibility to present the images in the best manner possible. For this opportunity I am truly grateful to the owner and I know you will be as well.
OK, now I’m revving up for the Grand Finale of Part One of my two posts about The Amazing Collection of Lillian Weber Herold. What follows is one of the two images that really knocked my socks off! If I were an archaeologist, this would be the Roman helmet or the gold coins.
Now if you like this sort of thing as much as I do, you might want to take your socks off before you look at this next image. Lillian’s descendant went back to the collection. Have a look at what turned up.
Just a little while ago, my good friend, Joellen McDonald, the historian of Richmond Heights, forwarded a request. She had been contacted by James Devine who grew up in Richmond Heights and lived on Hiawatha for 25 years. James had sent her the following image and was wondering just what it was. After looking at it for a short time, I realized that it must be a fire tag. Where I grew up in Jefferson County the nearest fire department was at Shady Valley. It was staffed by unpaid volunteers. Since it was not supported by taxes the department had to support itself through the sale of fire tags. These small tin tags had the year on them so the firefighters could tell if they were current or not. It was a good idea to nail these tags on your fence or a tree somewhere away from the house. Woe to the homeowners whose homes caught fire and who had not bought a tag. There were numerous instances where the firefighters let the homes burn because they lacked tags. I remember one such instance myself. In my very dim memory, which could be wrong, the fire chief of Shady Valley was pilloried for letting a home burn. This was a fellow who I worked part time for at a gas station. I have a memory of him being very upset.
This article ran on July 25, 2005 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Thanks to Nancy Fennell Hawkins for sending me the clipping of this article. I’m betting there are still a lot of folks around who remember the Laux Bakery in Maplewood. Much thanks to Joe Holleman who wrote this article for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
In my previous post about the Air Force Academy Chapel, mostly fabricated at two Maplewood companies, Mississippi Valley Structural Steel and Cupples Products Company, I expressed regret that while researching my first Maplewood history book I had not been able to interview anyone who worked at either of those places. That turned out to be a good thing to mention as it was seen by the son of a man who had worked at Cupples. His name is Robert Myers. I had a nice conversation with Mr. Myers. He was very familiar with the manufacturing done at Cupples during the time he worked there – 1964-1993 or 4. I wondered how much of the fabrication of the curtain walls was done at the company’s location on Hanley and how much was farmed out? I was amazed to find that apparently everything was done on Hanley. Aluminum was the metal that was used the most. Some jobs required stainless steel. Not much at all was done with ordinary steel. They received sheet stock and thirty and forty foot logs of aluminum from Alcoa. The logs were melted and used to make all of their own extrusions. The extrusions were then made into modular assemblies that would carry the glass or granite or whatever type of exterior the architect had specified.
You’ll soon find out. It still is ultra modern even though it was made in Maplewood quite a long time ago. When I made the first Maplewood history book in 2008, I put a couple of pages at the rear about our heavy industry, mainly Sunnen, Cupples, and Mississippi Valley Structural Steel. MVSS and Cupples were gone by then. I always regretted that I couldn’t find anyone to interview who had worked at either one of them. So if you’re out there (or know someone who is), I’d still like to talk to you. Speaking of that first book, The First One Hundred Years, Maplewood MO – Volume One, it is now on its third printing. Our C of C recently had another 250 copies printed bringing the total to about 1500. If you would like one give them a call at 314-781-8588. I’m sure they can arrange a safe way for you to pick up your copy at their headquarters, 7326A Manchester, just west of the hardware store. If you haven’t been in Scheidt Hardware for awhile, why not? It’s always a good time and they have something you need.