Maplewood History: 4 Buildings, 3 City Halls and 1 Case of Mistaken Identity

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me about our first city hall at the NW corner of Hazel and Sutton, I would probably have 20 or maybe 25 cents by now.  7401 Hazel is a lovely building and one of our oldest commercial ones but it was never our city hall.

It was put up in 1898 by Dr. Cape who lived across the street.  To refresh your memory you might like to take a look at this previous post. Cape, Koester and our First City Hall

We are currently using city hall building #3.  I have sifted through my digital archive for what information I can find to answer any questions you may have about our city halls once and for all.  Or at least for a year or so until everyone including me has completely forgotten the contents of this post.

The building in the foreground is 7401-3 Hazel. It is a beautiful building but it was never our city hall. Photo taken 10/14/2012 by Yours truly.

The same scene 100+years earlier. I posted this photo because there was some discussion a post or so ago about what early building may have been at the SE corner of Sutton and Manchester. You can barely make it out in the distance. It does seem to be different than the one we have today. Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

This, as most of you already know, is our first city hall. Built in 1908, it was four years old when this photo was taken. The building at 2737 Sutton survives today. Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

These are such great photos! I ran an extra one. Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

This one by Yours truly was taken on 1/15/2006. The building was still under restoration. The Maplewood Mill chimney and Cyclone can be seen in the background.  In my opinion, the Cyclone dust collector was unnecessarily removed.  See my posts about it.  Part 1Part 2Part 3

This is Maplewood City Hall #2. Built in 1922, it was located on the NE corner of Manchester and Big Bend. I believe this is a 1946 photo of it. Courtesy of Martin Fischer.

Probably taken sometime in the 1920’s. Thanks to the Maplewood Police Department for this one.

A 1928 photo of some of Maplewood’s finest posing in front of city hall #2. Courtesy of Maplewood Public Library.

In 1946 a bond issue was put before the citizens of Maplewood to build a new city hall. It didn’t fly. If it had we’d have a city hall that looks like this. The cost was to have been $346,000.  Hmmm.  Courtesy of Martin Fischer.

From the incredible collection of Martin Fischer, the printing block used to print the previous drawing.

A page from the September 10,1958 St. Louis County Observer newspaper celebrating Maplewood’s Golden Jubilee. Our 50th anniversary. That proposed city hall looks pretty futuristic. Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

Here is an enlargement of the photo of city hall #2 from the previous photo.  That is a war memorial on the corner.  The location of this building was the NE corner of Big Bend and Manchester where the White Castle is located today.

Then in 1962 steps were taken to replace city hall #2. There was a controversy about the sale.  Apparently some folks thought it had been done a bit surreptitiously.  I don’t know what conclusion they reached.  Sure wish I had copied some more of these clippings but I didn’t. Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

Here is what we wound up with. Although I’m not looking at the evidence, I have in my dim memory that this building was constructed in 1964. I wonder what happened to that futuristic model from 1958? Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

This attractive water garden definitely improves the scene. I’d take it a bit farther. How about a high speed water slide from the roof straight into the Maplewood Family Aquatic Center? A zip line to the high school would also be nice. Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

To sum it all up, we used city hall #1 for 14 years, city hall #2 for 40 and city hall #3 for 53 and counting.

16 thoughts on “Maplewood History: 4 Buildings, 3 City Halls and 1 Case of Mistaken Identity

  1. Enjoyed a rare treat recently–a tour of STL architecture led by Esley Hamilton. As we were driven through the streets, he quickly named the important buildings, their architect, builder, date of construction, materials and their source . . . I do hope we can learn the architect of our current City Hall.
    Glad you have dedicated yourself to this work, Doug Houser. You and Esley have worked so diligently to preserve our treasures.
    I talked with the owner of the Parkmoor during its last days of operation. The owner who had sold it admired my poncho and then said: “St. Louis people are so nostalgic . . .” STL people like you admire beauty, quality, artistry. I am so very sad to see the beautiful building kitty-corner from where the Parkmoor was, be destroyed. Memories of the legendary costumer on the second floor, the delicious Greek and Bulgarian foods
    , passport pictures taken, exquisite lamps and treasures, and the gorgeous displays at the floral shop on the corner–sad.

    • Phyllis, Thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot. I too will miss the building you refer to on the SW corner of Big Bend and Clayton Road. I know that I regularly went to Gus’ Athenian Greek Imports in 1977 and possibly even earlier. I’d pick up a couple of gyros and head over to have lunch with my good friend Dave Scudder at his used book store on S. Rosebury. Gus and Dave! What colorful fellows they both were. Dave passed away in 1988 and Gus just recently. They were both irreplaceable. I miss them and I’ll miss the building Gus’ shop was in too.

  2. Readers, I get by with a little help from my friends. Good friend, Esley Hamilton, in an email first asked me not to hate him ” but I just noticed that you should have written “whets your appetite” or sharpens it, as in a whetstone, a sharpening tool.”
    Well I don’t hate him and that’s not likely to ever happen. He has been helping me in this manner for many years. So if you think something I have written should have been done a bit differently, you are welcome to say so. Occasionally I’ll distort the language on purpose but hopefully it’s obvious when I do.
    I am very flattered by how many of you follow this space. I appreciate your comments, emails, suggestions, hints, whatever. If you have asked me about something that relates to the history of our community and I seem to have forgotten it then I probably have. Please remind me again.
    I spend way more time on this than I should but what else should I be doing? I’m retired. I’m still having a good time and I’m not planning to quit anytime soon.
    Thank you all for your support.
    Doug

  3. Doug, as I reviewed the articles relating to the dust collector, one thing strikes me. This event and the removal of the cabinets from Harper’s is connected.

    • Scott, David Schlafly owns the Maplewood Mill and the Cape-Harper building. The events you refer to are connected in that way. As for the removal of the magnificent cabinetry from the former Harper’s Pharmacy space in the Cape-Harper building, there was nothing to protect the cabinets other than the Court of Public Opinion which is why I mention that act of architectural vandalism every chance I get. The Sierra Club’s chapter director and his superiors (they had to discuss it) bear just as much responsibility as Mr. Schlafly. I have supported the Sierra Club in the past and will again as soon as I feel they have leadership that can avoid boneheaded decisions like this one.
      Mr. Schlafly has done much good in our community. I appreciate that. His timing was good. The Cape-Harper building and the Mill needed a lot and he turned them around. No small thing. Too bad a black mark like the removal of the cabinetry tarnishes an otherwise excellent effort.
      I also want to get the message through that we need to protect the architectural treasures in our community. Exterior and interior.
      The removal of the cyclone dust collector was a different matter. The demolition request should have gone to our historic preservation commission. Read the ordinance. It did not. There was no review. I’m not done talking about that one either. Thanks for your comment.

    • Luke, all I can do is repeat the rumor I was told that the tablet with the names had been moved to the basement of the high school. Now is that the tablet that is now in front of our city hall? I don’t know. Wish I had more info to offer you.

      • You may be thinking of the bronze tablet honoring Maplewood men who served in WWI that was stored in the basement of the High School and may still be there. It was taken there after it was stolen but found and recovered from a scrap yard. Before it was stolen, it was on the Southwest corner of the former MRH high school property, now Ryan Hummert Memorial Park.

  4. Ok, who was the architect of the present City Hall? As time marches on, it’s looking less like a routine building and more like a good example of Mid-Century Modern.

    • That’s a good question, Esley. I don’t have any idea. My bet is the drawings are still in the building. It has had two fairly extensive interior remodelings to my knowledge. I don’t know what changes were made during the first one. I think one of our then councilman, Bob Noll, was the general? contractor who did the job. The second large alteration involved moving the library out of the eastern end of the building and filling that space with the council chamber. The library then moved to our spectacular Art Deco Maplewood Pool building. Anyone who hasn’t visited our library in its new space should do so. It truly is beautiful.

  5. Hi Doug, Gary Tash here, what is the little white building with single columns at each front corner to the west of city hall #2? Was it an earlier version of White Castle?

    • I don’t think it was, Gary. I’ve seen a little more of that structure in another photo. It appeared to be a small addition to the larger city hall #2 building. If I can find that photo again, I’ll post it. I have a feeling that the White Castle was in a storefront that was closer to the eastern end of the block.

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