Maplewood History: From Jim Fischer’s Box…the Bennett Home

Dusty boxes of junk are, now and then, one part of this job of mine that others might not care for but I don’t seem to mind.  I have trouble remembering how many interesting discoveries I have made in the piles some of these boxes have contained. Most memorable to me are probably the Rannells family papers some dating as far back as the 1830’s that were stored underneath a bed in an old carpenter’s tool chest when I first saw them. This was at the very nice home of a direct descendant of Charles and Mary Rannells who lived in Richardson, Texas. The descendant lived in Richardson, Charles and Mary lived in Maplewood in Woodside as followers of this space should know.

Maplewood History: Incident at Deer Creek

The soon-to-be, if not all ready legendary Bill Jones is back with a recollection from his childhood.  We can’t thank you enough, Bill.  We try to imagine what life was like in our community from the old photos I post.  You were there. I’d encourage others with memories they’d like to share to send them along.

Dynamite explosion clippings discovered

Almost a half-ton of dynamite stored in a Maplewood house was set off almost 101 years ago, demolishing 11 homes, killing two women and injuring many, according to Doug Houser in his 40 South article, Maplewood History: The Top Ten Things You Never Knew About Maplewood’s Big Bang. St. Louis historian/activist-archivist, Mark Loehrer (@PubPolHist) posted these clippings on Twitter recently. Mr. Houser said he hadn’t seen these. See more photos, and details of the explosion here.

Maplewood History: Cape, Koester and Our First City Hall

Dr. Leander Cape began practicing medicine at 2700 Ellendale in the City of St. Louis in 1893. Obviously attracted to the rapidly growing community just to his west, in 1898 he built two commercial buildings at 7401-3 Hazel.  7401 Hazel, a turreted building on the NW corner of Hazel and Sutton, is mistakenly believed by some to have once housed Maplewood’s first city hall.  It never did.

MSD work uncovers streetcar tracks

A business owner with an office at Manchester and Bellevue, where MSD is installing new underground pipes, noticed some old streetcar tracks a few inches below street level, and took a photo. MSD spokesperson Sean Hadley says the work is on schedule — it’s set to take about a month. On streetcars: by author of newly-published “Kennedy Music”
Maplewood History: Edgebrook Bridge – Maplewood’s Lost Engineering Marvel

Maplewood History: Our Second Train Depot and James Sutton’s Cabin in the Woods

What in the world could our second train depot have to do with our pioneer settler, James C. Sutton’s cabin in the woods? Thanks to a couple of old maps and Luke Havel’s newly discovered photograph we now know almost exactly where the second depot was located. (See my previous post). I imagine by now you’re beginning to think that Luke’s photograph was from 1906 and James Sutton bought his property and built a cabin on it in 1826. 80 years apart.

Maplewood History: A Thrilling New Discovery Leaves Just One More Station To Go

When I first started digging in the dusty piles of Maplewood history I had no clear idea of what I was after and certainly no idea at all of where the search might eventually take me.  I was just helping to put together a physical display for our fledgling historical society.  I dug through a lot of records and then later retained a dim memory of reading about certain things or events without actually remembering exactly where I had seen the information. Maplewood History: Our Second Train Depot and James Sutton’s Cabin in the Woods

One of those foggy, dream-like memories had to do with the Maplewood Depot. Old maps show that the building was once on the Greenwood side of the tracks.  The only photos I had found show it on the Arbor side. Many Maplewoodians know where it was because the stone wall and stairs that once led to the depot still exist where Marshall, Arbor and Maple end at Canterbury.   One might conclude that an earlier depot had been demolished and a new one built opposite it.  But my dim memory seemed to recall that the building itself had once been moved from the Greenwood side of the tracks to the Arbor side. I can now say that is indeed what happened.  Thanks to some most excellent research by Luke Havel who has located the article in the Post-Dispatch that specifically describes this event.

Missouri History Museum features Route 66 in Maplewood

For the first seven years of Route 66 — from 1926 to 1933 — the road went through Maplewood’s business district, the Missouri History Museum wrote in its blog recently. From the Missouri History Museum:
In 1853 the Missouri Pacific Railroad began running between St. Louis and Webster Groves, with a stop at Maplewood (then described as “[at] the River des Peres, a little beyond the Sutton’s”). The town’s main thoroughfare, Manchester Avenue (now Manchester Road), was also heavily traveled because it served as the connector between St. Louis and Jefferson City.

Maplewood History: Getting Plastered

If the title of this post makes you think of the recently past New Year’s Eve, I understand.  There was a time when I would have thought the same thing. But this post has nothing to do with Cousin Hugo’s or Schlafly’s or Foley’s or the Crow’s Nest or the Side Project or any of the other fine Maplewood establishments where you may have spent last Saturday evening. 

I am making a joke because had any of the customers of the above seemed headed in the direction the title implies, I’m reasonably certain the proprietors would have gently counseled them before putting them in a cab and sending them home. That’s awfully wordy but I’ve gotta get this thing out. Imagine that you live in Maplewood and the year is 1912. You have the new Maplewood Business Directory and you want to get plastered.

Maplewood History: The Unrecognizables

My corralling of Maplewood’s historic photos began early in 2002.  Barry Greenberg, now a councilman, had issued a call for persons interested in starting an historical society. Recently retired I showed up along with a fair number of like-minded souls. I don’t recall how many were at that first meeting but I know we had around twenty show up for a few of the later meetings.  I didn’t know it then but that was a number that proved difficult to eclipse. Such is the fate of an historical society I would find out later. Possibly the first event we planned was a physical display of historic photographs and items set up in one of the empty store fronts on Sutton.  There were several to choose from.  Our event took place in one that is now the Maya Café or very close to it.

Maplewood History: Wait a Minute. I Recognize That Ghost!

On a warm weekend in the middle of last September and in the middle of Sutton Avenue, the theater department of St. Louis University presented their Maplewood/Shakespeare adaptation play, “Remember Me”. 

The very large audience (I heard 1700 on just Saturday night) was charmed by an all Maplewood cast and the many ghosts of Maplewood portrayed by giant puppets and conjured by the playwright, Nancy Bell.  A couple of my favorite ethereal personalities, the Maplewood Spectre (she of the variable height of whom I have written several times) and the ghost of Charles Rannells, the builder of our most historic piece of property, Woodside, were among the spirits roaming the stage those nights. Nancy also borrowed details from a tragic story concerning a very old St. Louis family, the Clamorgans. Some of them including a young woman named Clara once lived just beyond our border in the City of St.