Maplewood History: The Rise and Fall of the Maplewood K-Mart
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 7, 1997
Shortest post I’ve ever made. Doug Houser October 16, 2022
40 South News (http://40southnews.com/author/doug-houser/page/2/)
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 7, 1997
Shortest post I’ve ever made. Doug Houser October 16, 2022
In my last post, I reprinted an email from reader Melissa in which she posed the question: Were our buildings “built plain or became plain over time? I gave her four examples which you can review here. Another very good example of how a building may change dramatically is that of the first Maplewood Bank building. The Maplewood Bank
Such a beautiful building. What could possibly go wrong? Take another look at the earlier photos of the building. Even in the last one where the building is propped up with a beam, it might have appeared to be unsalvageable. It wasn’t and the folks who were working on it knew that. They had been preparing it for it’s new flat (modern) facade. The brick pilasters, their capitals and the round brick arches that had graced both doorways had been broken off. The parapet that once held the name of the building had been removed. This sort of treatment was very common on commercial and residential buildings in the mid-twentieth century when they were updated…modernized. Just about any architectural details that projected even a few inches were likely to be smashed off so a new perfectly flat facade could cover it.
Recently I received the following email from a reader that started me thinking about the disappeared and still disappearing architectural details that have occupied much of my time for the last decade-and-a-half. Hi Doug,
I walk my dogs all around Maplewood and study the different styles of architecture. Most of the older (1906) homes like mine have very little ornamentation. There are one or two that have roof ornaments and about two that have Queen Anne style roof trim and more ornate windows. Why are most so plain?
This past September the 7th, I had the great pleasure to meet the wonderful folks that make up the St. Louis contingent of the CORO fellowship of 2022-23. If you are not familiar with the CORO programs maybe this excerpt from Wikipedia will help. The Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs, the organization’s premier fellowship, is a full-time, nine-month, graduate-level experiential leadership training program that prepares diverse, talented and committed individuals for effective and ethical leadership in the public affairs arena. Unconventional by traditional academic standards, the Fellows Program is rigorous and demanding, aiming toward personal and professional growth. The Fellows Program is offered in Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and St.
A few weeks back, I made a post with the title, “Everything Ziegler and a Bit of Fischer.”
Well, thanks to the generosity of Brad Ziegler, by the time I had posted everything Ziegler, I was out of time and energy so I promised to post my Fischer material in a follow up. This is it. As I mentioned, Jim Fischer gave Luke Havel and I a box that contained a large number of items. Many of the items were interesting but had no connection to our fair city. Some of them I passed on to my neighbor, Adam Kloppe, who works for the Missouri Historical Society. You may have heard him on the radio. He, and some of his colleagues, produce very interesting audio clips about Missouri history. I hear them on KDHX. Anyhow, I figured that Adam would know what to do with these random historical bits of hard copy. After all, he’s a professional. Jim Fischer also gave us a wonderful digital gift…a high resolution copy of a historic image of his family’s early meat market. We had this image in our collection but it wasn’t very good. So here is that image and some other stuff. In an upcoming post, I’ll share some of the other oddities that were in Jim Fischer’s box. Thanks again, Jim.
Now I’d like to show again some of the images from the Ziegler collection since these two families were so intertwined. Thanks again to Brad Ziegler.
Does anyone out there remember Stewart, the sign painter? I think of him every time I ride my bike past where he once had his shop on Yale. He had an old Studebaker pickup truck which was in very good condition. I think it had a copper-colored paint job. He painted a sign for me once but I never got to know him very well. He told me that he painted western scenes that he sold. I took it to mean cowboys, Indians and horses…that kind of stuff. Someone else, might have been Al Greathouse, told me that he got a good price for his art. I remember he was in the habit of calling folks, caballero, I think. I either read or heard that he died after slipping and falling on an icy sidewalk while he was walking his dog. This may have happened in the early 1980s.
A year or so ago, David Schlafly asked me to help to set up some sort of an exhibit about the history of Maplewood in The Bottleworks brewery of which he is part owner. I agreed. I had a couple of meetings with some of the folks that worked there. I thought we were on the way. To start, I decided to make a triptych to adorn a blank wall that is on your left, just past the gift shop. Specifically, these are three separate, composite photos. They read from left-to-right and from earliest-to-later. The subject is The Wedge (you capitalize that in Maplewood, son) which is a piece of real estate in that shape located where Manchester and Southwest come together. The reason that I chose the Wedge as the subject is because that is what you see if you look out the front door of The Bottleworks.
Early in 2017, I was invited by Luke Havel to meet with him and a man named Jim Fischer at the Stone Spiral Cafe. Jim brought with him a box containing many historic items either related to Maplewood or to his family. The box and contents, he gave to us. I scanned everything and put the images in a file called Jim Fischer’s Box. I tried to do the right thing with the items in the box. Some I added to the collection at the Maplewood Public Library. There were a few newspapers. The Post or Globe on earth shaking events, i.e.: the Kennedy assassination, landing on the moon, Nixon resigning, etc. There was a copy of the 1904 Christmas Edition of the Suburban Journal which featured Maplewood but we already have a couple of copies of the same. Jim Fischer was just the nicest guy. Plus his family story was very interesting. He was related to Adolph Fischer who was executed for his part in the Haymarket Riot in Chicago in 1886. As the article in Wikipedia puts it, “No single event has influenced the history of labor in Illinois, the United States, and even the world, more than the Chicago Haymarket Affair.” The history of labor is very important to me. I have been a member of the United Auto Workers since January 2, 1968. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Go unions! Jim’s ancestors operated a meat market in Maplewood. Two of the Fischer brothers married two of the Ziegler girls whose family owned a hardware store just steps away from the Fischer market. Family descendant, Bradley S. Ziegler has done a remarkable job of recording the Ziegler part of this story. We’re very lucky to have this information in our archive. Brad and Jim, we can’t thank you enough.
The Ladd Brothers operated a service station at Bellevue and Manchester. This I know for certain. I don’t know for how long. They must have been successful for they built a modern four-bay building that survives until this day. I first ran a blog post featuring these photographs in 2012. Thanks to our Community Development Director, Laura Miller, for reminding me of it. I’m happy that it was still drifting around somewhere in the ether. At that time I was posting my blog on the Patch website that was owned by AOL. I wasn’t very happy with that website. I try to arrange the images in a somewhat logical order. They scrambled them so that many of my posts must have been confusing to the readers. Editor Doug Miner (the other Doug) and I are both refugees from the Patch. When he fired up 40 South News, I went with him. That was in October of 2013. I’ve been there ever since. This is my 394th Maplewood History post on 40 South News.
Well, neither can I sometimes. I have been considering doing this post for quite awhile because I had become convinced, wrongly as I now know, that the Scheidt Hardware building, originally the Maplewood Theater, had cast iron bollards on each of the front corners. To begin, I have no idea how long vehicles with wheels have been around. The Egyptians had chariots, didn’t they? If so, they must have had other sorts of machines with wheels? Doesn’t matter in this case because this article is not about them. This article is about a problem that arose when a wheeled vehicle passed too close to a building or some other immovable object. The rear wheel closest to the object being passed could easily become hung up on that object causing an immediate cessation of forward momentum with all of the accompanying travail; i.e., damage to the wheel, the vehicle and the operator. Someone many eons ago came up with a clever solution to this problem. It’s a solution that’s still around today. Wheel guards. Some of the first ones were probably made of wood because wood is easier to shape than stone. But as you might suspect the better buildings and the better neighborhoods would probably have gone with stone. In modern times, cast iron was used in a wide variety of styles from the very simple to the very elegant. Some wheel guards survive in Maplewood. A pair of the most visible are on the corners of the Scheidt Hardware store. If you’re new in town and think of the hardware store at 7320 Manchester as a True Value, I still call it by its original name, even though the Scheidts have fled the scene.
Lustron homes were designed as an answer to the housing shortage in America following WWII. They were and still are a porcelainized enamel-coated, all metal, factory-made home. They were meant to require no maintenance. I really think they didn’t with the possible exception of the occasional wash (and wax?). I never heard of anyone waxing one but you know how your car looks even if it just sits in the driveway for a while. Lustron homes were invented by Carl Strandlund and manufactured in Columbus, Ohio between 1948 and 50. The manufacturing effort managed to produce a bit over 2,500 homes. This was far short of their goal to produce them by the tens of thousands. The company lost money on every home and went bankrupt in 1950. They left orders for 8,000 that were never filled
These homes were ingeniously designed by Morris Beckmann of Chicago. The interior surfaces were all metal. Pictures had to be hung on the metal walls with magnets. The shingles on the roof were all metal. Most had an oil burning furnace that heated the space above the metal ceilings. One idea whose time had apparently not come and still hasn’t was the combination clothes and dishwasher by a company named Thor. The motivating idea behind the design was to provide the occupying families with as much free time as possible since they wouldn’t have to spend time maintaining their homes.
Letters. I get letters. Well, mostly I get emails and texts but I do occasionally get a letter as well. Recently I heard from my old friend and fellow Maplewood history aficionado, Tom Bakersmith by email. Tom had this to say. Hi Doug, As I think you know, I am interested in the old “Ghost Signs”. One’s painted on building walls years ago. There are quite a few in Maplewood. This one is on the Sutton side of the building that houses Rich’s Hair Salon and Tiffany’s Diner. I can make out NAILS TOOLS CUTLERY. at the top. I wonder what hardware store it was.
I’m dusting off another old post. Blame the long hours of day light. This one first ran about 6 1/2 years ago. We had some wonderful old signs in Maplewood. Perhaps this post can spark some interest in their return. The Great Old Signs of Maplewood
I hope you are enjoying the summer. The Maplewood Pool has been the place to be. Doug Houser July 13, 2022
The 16th annual Let Them Eat Art Event in Maplewood is today, July 8, from 6 to 10PM. I had a lot to say about this last year but this year…well… I’ve been busy. Here is the link to last year’s Let Them Eat Art article. Keep in mind that the information within is from last year. Let Them Eat Art #1
These are always a lot of fun so don’t miss it! Doug Houser July 8, 2022
More images from the collection of Emma Beauvais Thomas Grumley. This is the thirteenth post in this series. For those of you who are just coming on board, all of these images are part of a collection that once belonged to young Emma Thomas, daughter of William Lyman and Catherine (Kate) Sutton Thomas. I assume all were friends, acquaintances or family of Emma’s. She wrote her name on the back of many of them to identify her as the owner but many have no information to identify the subjects. Vintage images such as these found in a tag sale or antique store would have only a small amount of value. These are important because they all belonged to Emma and are a good record of the many people in her life. She was born on land that once belonged to her grandfather, James C. Sutton. It is land that would one day become Maplewood. Emma lived here her entire life. From these images of Emma’s people we can all have a good look at the populous of our neighborhoods many years before any of us came along.
It must have been some time in the late 1970s when my neighbor, Mrs. Mahler, who was probably around 90 years old, told me she was fed up with cheap plastic brooms. She found what she wanted at Kroger, “A good corn broom.” Her new broom looked good to me. The handle was a one inch dowel rod as opposed to a ¾ inch one on the lesser corn brooms. Very sturdy. I bought one for myself and haven’t been without one since. Today I have three. One on the back porch, another one in the garage and one in the kid’s house. All of these I bought at Scheidt Hardware at 7320 Manchester (True Value to you new folks). You can get yourself a good corn broom there too. While you’re there take a look at their wide selection of hoses and yard care equipment. I bought a new sprayer there the other day and I swear it is the best one I have ever owned. It has made watering the yard and flower beds a pleasure. I’m including a photo of it so you’ll know what to look for. As for blog posts, I am having a hard time focusing on them with the long summer days. So please take another look at this previous one about Scheidt Hardware.
And, as most of you already know, both of my books on Maplewood History are still available at Scheidt. They make wonderful gifts and I have received several reports of individuals actually reading them.
What follows was my fourteenth post on the website, 40 South News. It first appeared on January 6, 2014. In the first few lines, I was worrying about running out of material. I shouldn’t have. This is post number 386 and I’m not done yet. DH
For a bit longer than 4 ½ years, I have posted articles and photos about the history of Maplewood on three different websites. Posting once or twice a month, more here lately, I usually include anywhere from 3 to 10 photos. I’ve not repeated myself much but I’m getting ready to. It’s not that I’m running out of material on what might seem to some a narrow subject. Far from it. It’s just that there are folks asking me about subjects I’ve already posted. This is the easiest way to answer them. Some of the photos in this post were originally shown on the Facebook page of the City of Maplewood. According to the research of St. Louis County historian, Esley Hamilton, County directories show that Albert Schwartzman and his wife Rosie lived and worked in one of Maplewood’s finest commercial buildings at 3101 Sutton at least as early as 1909. They operated a grocery and a meat market there.
More images from the collection of Emma Beauvais Thomas Grumley. This is the twelfth post in this series. For those of you who are just coming on board, all of these images are part of a collection that once belonged to young Emma Thomas, daughter of William Lyman and Catherine (Kate) Sutton Thomas. I assume all were friends, acquaintances or family of Emma’s. She wrote her name on the back of many of them to identify her as the owner but many have no information to identify the subjects. Vintage images such as these found in a tag sale or antique store would have only a small amount of value. These are important because they all belonged to Emma and are a good record of the many people in her life. She was born on land that once belonged to her grandfather, James C. Sutton. It is land that would one day become Maplewood. Emma lived here her entire life. From these images of Emma’s people we can all have a good look at the populous of our neighborhoods many years before any of us came along.
A couple of months back I made a post that had all of the images in the collection that once belonged to Emma Beauvais Thomas that had been created in the Guerin Studio. If you would like to take another look at them, you can find them here. Yesterday, scrolling through Facebook I found this interesting notice. This promises to be a fascinating Zoom presentation for any of you who have been following my posts of Emma’s 1890s era images. The ones from the Guerin studio are definitely among the best. At any rate this image was so funny I thought that it would have much appeal to my audience.
This is a presentation I definitely don’t want to miss. Let us know what you think of it. There is still more to show from the collection of Emma Beauvais Thomas Grumley.
Recently I was pleased to renew a friendship with a man who I once had as an instructor of digital photography, John Nagel. In the spring of 2007, I was enrolled in my second semester of Photoshop at St. Louis Community College – Meramec. It was the last semester that John taught before retiring. I was very lucky to have gotten there before he left. John is well known in his field. For 30 years he was a professor of fine art photography at STLCC – Meramec. More recently he retired as the executive director of the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum. He was instrumental in bringing the museum to St. Louis.