Dogs are wonderful creatures. My wife and I have had four during our time here in Maplewood. The last two lived to be over sixteen years old. No dog lover would be unhappy with that but now they’re gone and we still feel the loss.
Dogs are fairly unique among pets in that they are very good at getting the owners out of the house and around the block. Most of them seem to be able to do this. When they are young you can make good time and get a pretty good workout. As they get older the walks gradually become more of a feast of smells. In their last few years, getting around one block might take 45 minutes or more.
I’m not complaining. These slow walks are great opportunities for meeting your neighbors. Without an old dog you’d never be able to loiter on the sidewalk in one spot for 15 minutes or more.
These days we have arranged to walk our neighbor’s dog while they’re at work. There is much joy in this for us and for the dog. Even though their dog is young and fast, we still managed to meet Kathy who is selling her landmark Maplewood home.
Kathy and her husband have lived in their home at 7380 Flora for only four years before jobs have made it necessary for them to sell. But in that time they have completed many high quality upgrades including a new kitchen, new hardwood floors throughout, and a new furnace as well.
Additionally they have learned much about the history of their home because it was once the home of the McGregor family that owned an early bakery here. One of the McGregors, Evelyn, occupied the home for very many years. She kept her home in tip top shape and she also kept a diary. It was from this diary that family members produced a very interesting book.
The title of this book is “Then We Went to Powhattan’s”. (sic) The correct spelling is Powhatan. “The Diaries of Evelyn May Whitcomb McGregor.” Kathy was kind enough to show me this book and allow me to take some photographs of it. We should have a copy in the Maplewood Public Library if we don’t already.
The McGregor’s house today. The 1982 Maplewood Community Profile by Rosemary Davison gives the year of construction as 1904. It states that the home was sold to George McGregor in 1922. I highly approve of the color. We have far too many white ones in my mind. This splendid home is important historically because it preserves much of the original exterior. Take a good look at it because there are not many detailed exteriors like this around.
Here is a view of the side porch from the McGregor family book.
The original mantelpiece survives in the living room. There are several other mantelpieces that survive as well. This home will soon be offered for sale at which time many photos of the interior will be posted online. I am going to post just a few to give you an idea of what a treasure this home is.
This has to be one of the best original staircases in Maplewood. Note the paneled wall and the finials on the newel posts.
Current owner Kathy displays one of two of the original finials that was damaged. She and her husband had exact copies made to replace them. You cannot tell the difference. It looked to me as if the entire stone foundation had been repointed.
A small storage area probably four feet above the floor. One of those curious details that makes old houses so interesting.
A McGregor Model TT (not a typo. The cars were T models.) Bakery truck parked at the curb directly in front of the home. This image is also from the McGregor book. The 1912 Maplewood Business directory gives 7303 Piccadilly Ave as the address of the bakery. Readers of this blog will know from past posts that the McGregor Bakery and the Powhatan Theater both had once been occupants of the same building at 3107 Sutton.
These signs are thought to have come from the Powhatan Theater. This particular image is from the Renaissance Society collection at our library. A black & white version taken at the same time appears in the McGregor book. This makes me think these were once stored at their home. I hope they still exist. I’d like to get my hands on one.
I have saved the best for last. One of the most beautiful features of this property is the 100-year-old landmark ginkgo tree in the front yard. This tree has many admirers including myself. I try every year to photograph it when its leaves are at the height of their glory. For a decade I accompanied St. Louis County historian Esley Hamilton on his history hikes through Maplewood. This tree was always a feature of the tour. Its future is cause for concern. It sits squarely in the middle of the only space to put a driveway. Potential buyers of this property must be made aware that this is a significant tree in our community. One of the few that has a group of fans who regularly check its status. (The magnolias at Hazel and Maple are others.) I wish this tree could get special recognition so those who might destroy it to put in a driveway could be dissuaded. This photo was taken on 11/24/2010.
Here is another angle from that same day. I’m sure most of you already know that one very interesting characteristic of ginkgos is that after this intense burst of color they drop their leaves almost immediately, completely covering the ground beneath them with a brilliant yellow carpet.
Occasionally we’ll get lucky and have a bit of sunshine while the tree is in full bloom if you will. This shot was taken on 11/08/2009.