Maplewood History: A Startling Glimpse of a Stertzing Past

If you are today as I once was, which is nearly totally ignorant of things Stertzing, then this post is for you. Six-and-a-half years ago, I created a post titled, Mr. and Mrs. W.W. Stertzing and the Building They Left Behind. If you read the comments, I think you’d say it was well received.  Of course, we couldn’t have known then how much more there is to this story.

There are mainly two reasons we didn’t know more about this story.  One is I hadn’t yet subscribed to Newspapers.com.  The other is that Mary Piles, generous curator of the historic images at the Citizens National Bank of Maplewood and Greater St. Louis (6 locations), had not yet provided us with what is, without a doubt, so far, the most mind blowing (and the oldest known) vintage image of the Stertzing building to come to light.

Take a look.

I’ll start this off with this photograph I made in 2006 of the Art Deco escutcheon and glass door knob on the Stertzing door leading to the second floor apartments.  The escutcheon is definitely Art Deco.  I’m not sure about the glass knob.  We had them on the house I grew up in which was built by my father in the early 1950’s.

The Stertzing building (7266-68 Manchester at Southwest) in 2010.

In this 1899 ad posted in the St. Louis Globe Democrat, Waldemar advertises for an assistant.  Today’s Southwest Avenue was once Manchester Road.  It was known for some years as Old Manchester.  So with this as evidence, Stertzing was at the location as early as 1899.  Notice he calls the town Ellendale.  It wasn’t located in Ellendale but that was prior to Maplewood’s birth in 1908.

In this help wanted ad from 1900, he lists the location as Maplewood.  The original Maplewood subdivision is directly south of the 7300 block of Manchester.  It is bounded by Sutton on the west, Marshall on the east, and Flora or possibly Elm on the south. I need to look that one up.

He bought some property in 1901. I’m guessing it may have been adjacent to some he already owned.  Notice he purchased it from another fellow who lived in the area long before it became Maplewood.  John L. Sutton.  One of James’ boys.

In 1904, he added another lot to his holdings.

Also in 1904, this photograph of Waldemar and his wife (I guess) appeared in the Christmas issue of the Suburban Journal. It was an issue devoted exclusively to Maplewood.  I was given copies by Joellen McDonald, Richmond Heights formidable historian and Jim Fischer of Jim Fischer’s Box fame.  These are now in the collection of the Maplewood Public Library.  They are fascinating. So if you get a chance, after this virus is over, give them a look.

Also in 1904, Stertzing placed this help wanted ad. Maplewood had a station by then.

He was a judge at a flower show in 1910. 500 bucks was serious money back then.  It was worth $13,494.42 in today’s money according to the online inflation calculator.

Business must have been good. Good enough to pay for this very expensive new sign. This newspaper clipping is from October 1927. That 1,000 dollars in today’s money would be $14,581.31.  How do I know the date of this newspaper clipping?  Have  look at the flip side in the following image.

It was just one of the many items that was preserved by the Grumley family descendants.

Now here is something I can relate to. He sold a Dodge truck in 1929. I spent many years making Dodge trucks and driving them.  I’m on number five right now.

William Maddock’s passing is important. You’ll see why in just a bit.  This was printed on September 13, 1930.

In 1932, just a year-and-a-half after the death of Mr. Madden, Waldemar’s wife passes.

About 6 months after his wife had passed, Stertzing adopts Mrs. Madden and they leave on a European tour.  This article was from the Globe-Democrat.  The Post-Dispatch article follows.

Well, it certainly seems like he was a nice old guy. I don’t mean that sarcastically.  He was getting old and apparently had no heirs. In 1934, he contracted to have a new building built.  Is this the one we see today at 7266-68 Manchester?

This appeared December 30, 1934 in the Post-Dispatch.

What is curious is the building as we know it today has only two storefronts.

Here is a photograph I took in 2010.  Does this building look like it is 99 feet wide?  Nope.  What is going on?  What happened to 7262 Manchester mentioned in the article?  I don’t know.  Now look at this building closely.  The next one will blow your mind.

This image is from a photo album with photos provided by Gerry Vazis. It survived the conflagration that destroyed the Golde’s Department store and the Citizen’s Bank in 1966. It had been stored in the bank vault. Mary Piles, the curator of the historic images at the bank, kindly let me copy the album.  Shearer Hudson once had a sharp looking Art Deco dealership that has completely disappeared today.  The west end of Schlafly’s parking lot now occupies that space.  Look closely at the building on the right.

This is the only image I have ever found that shows what the facade of the Stertzing building once looked like.  What a magnificent parapet that has now been completely shorn away.  I think it was certainly the best facade in our business district with the exception of one other, the Browne building in the 7100 block.

As usual I’m running late again.  It is now 10 after one in the morning and I’ve got to close this down.  I’ll check the punctuation and spelling some time tomorrow.  If you find any mistakes let me know.

Finding an image like this is a sort of holy grail to what I do.  I hope you find this as exciting as I do.

Wear your masks.

Doug Houser   July 17, 2020

16 thoughts on “Maplewood History: A Startling Glimpse of a Stertzing Past

  1. Well, I did find this listed on the National Register of Historic Places registration form that is on a pdf file. It doesn’t give much information as to the demise of the building Stertzing may have built that turned in to Shearer Chevrolet, but it looks as though Shearer Chevrolet may have moved to that building from another building that was further down on Manchester at 7219 Manchester. It reads as follows:
    United States Department of the Interior National Park Service National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet Section number 8 Page 56 Maplewood Historic Commercial District Name of Property St. Louis & St. Louis (Independent City), Missouri County and State N/A Name of multiple listing (if applicable)MANCHESTER AVENUE(CONTINUED)7219-7223 Barker Motor Company; c.1939 (7219-7221); addition c.1949 (7223); architect unknown.Contributing(Photo 12)The first portion of this Streamline Modern storefront, 7219-7221 Manchester,encompassed two-thirds of the lot at the corner. The west bay addition of the building was added in 1949 for an additional storefront entrance at 7223.From 1939-1941, the city directory reported Barker Motor Company’s used car department in the building, probably occupying the entire building. In 1943, Shearer Chevrolet’s(used cars)was reported at this same address, but the next reported business in this building were in 1949, either indicating vacancies (although it was not stated as such in city directories) or the canvassing simply did not record the businesses in the intervening years. In 1949, Morris Nodiff Hardware was listed at 7219,but it is not clear whether it operated in the entire building or just the east storefront. https://dnr.mo.gov/shpo/docs/05-maplewoodhd.pdf
    Anyway, I just found it interesting.

    • I am assuming that Morris Nodiff Hardware was a hardware store which would have made it possibly 2 or 3 stores on Manchester. We have Scheidt Hardware, not sure when Empire Hardware came around and then this one. Seems like a lot of hardware stores in a couple of block area.

      • Mark, I don’t know about Morris Nodiff Hardware but you can find an old picture of Empire Hardware here. https://bit.ly/3g6rIXz Empire opened in 1931 and was named for the Empire State Building which opened that year as well.

    • Thanks for all of this. Michele. Those National Register nominations are great places to find a lot of information. You will want to see my next post which hopefully I’ll get out later tonight.

  2. Doug, do we know when the Shearer Hudson, later to become Shearer Chevrolet building was torn down? The listing of your picture says 1949 so we know it was still there at least a few years after 1949 and into the 50’s, I’m presuming. I was born in 1958 and grew up in Maplewood since my birth and I can’t seem to remember that building being there, but then again, my memory is fuzzy at times. LOL

  3. Question: Was the Paulsmeyer’s Florist in that building? (Everyone got flowers there in my generation…proms, weddings, funerals, etc.) Mrs Paulsmeyer was the florist. They lived on Flora behind us on Elm just to the East (fabulous old home to this day!). The Paulsmeyer boys were classmates of MRH folks through the early to mid 60’s. Danny provides info on classmates to this day. Dan Paulsmeyer might know a few things, if that was the location. (It was along there on that side of the street.) Bonnie Paulsmeyer (former MRH principal) might be of help also.

    • Boy, Pickett, I don’t know the answer to this one. Somebody show this to one of those Paulsmeyers, will ya? Maybe we can get them to weigh in on this.

  4. Wow, so amazing! I just love your history-mystery posts! Thank you for all the work and research you put into them.

    • Thank you, MC. I appreciate your enthusiasm. Do you know about my new book for sale now through me or the nice folks at Scheidt Hardware?

  5. looking at the last picture I see the sign Arcade and Linoleum and think what a strange sign. Is it an arcade that sells linoleum or an arcade with linoleum floors. I compare that large sign with the last picture and do think that the sign laws that Maplewood has is an improvement over that large sign. It seems to really hide the building.

    Lastly, I do not know if I have been into both businesses but wonder if the floor levels are at different heights. It seems that the left side certainly sits lower that the right side and the store front seems longer on the left side. I do not know if I have ever notice it when driving by.

    • Mark, I don’t know about the floor levels. I suspect they are both on the same plane. It would be weird to have built a new building with different levels in each storefront since the grade the building is on is not steep.
      As for Arcade Linoleum, would you accept this totally unsubstantiated theory? The main store was in the Arcade building downtown. The Maplewood location was a satellite.
      Also I’m in favor of those sorts of signs because a lot of them were neon. That one probably was as well. Imagine what our downtown may have looked like at night. You might want to take a look at this previous post of mine about bringing back some of our great old signs.
      http://40southnews.com/maplewood-history-lets-bring-back-the-great-old-signs-of-maplewood/
      Finally all of this talk of linoleum reminded me of something I once heard concerning that subject. Do you know what is the result of an explosion in a French kitchen? Linoleum blown apart.

  6. That is an interesting comparison of the before and after of the building fronts. I seem to recall a huge tornado that hit St Louis sometime in the past and wonder if that top was lost to something like that, maybe at the same time. And the description of it being a 3 story building, could that be they were counting the basement as the first story which would make it a 3 story building? That lot falls pretty steeply to the back of the building and even today I think there is a ground level entrance to at least part of the building so the basement would have been a walk out space.

    On a related picture whatever happened to the Hudson dealerships. Those are some neat building also. Without the pictures there who would know they were there? I do not recall ever hearing them mentioned when we talk about the “wedge” area.

    • Hey Mark, the article mentions a three storefront, two-story building. What happened to the other storefront is my question.
      I’ll have a bit more on the Hudson dealer in the next post.
      Maplewood did suffer some damage from a tornado in 1959. A home was destroyed near Bredell and Jerome. But the missing parapet on the Stertzing building is almost without a doubt the result of an attempted remodeling to modernize the building. We can’t imagine how many decorative architectural features were lost on commercial buildings and homes during the 1940’s and 50’s. More on this later.

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