Maplewood History: Fraser Park

All I know is what I read in the papers. Will Rogers.  That was a line he used many times and with many variations.  The article often referred to as containing the first use of that line ran in the New York Times on September 30, 1923.   But Rogers was a syndicated columnist whose humorous takes on world events once ran in as many as 600 newspapers.  He apparently opened his stage performances the same way.

I could say the same thing about one of Maplewood’s earliest subdivisions, Fraser Park.  Of course, my “papers” these days are ephemeral points of light that disappear as soon as I hit the switch. I’m not complaining.  This sort of research is much easier than it used to be.

Fraser Park consists of just three streets, Rule Ave., Lowry Ave. and Moller St.. There are no homes on Lowry Ave.. From the 1909 Plat Book of St. Louis County.

This is the first advertisement for Fraser Park that I found using Newspapers.com.  I didn’t count them but a number of versions of this very attractive style of home were constructed.  Some have been changed a bit by later alterations.  Notice that Fraser is spelled two ways in the same ad.  This is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on March 23, 1890.

In the middle of the 7200 block of Rule Ave. is an example of the first style of home advertised.  Just like the image in the advertisement it has the narrow, triple, double-hung windows on the second floor over bay windows on the first.  The second floor wall has been altered above the porch.  This image is from 2010.

This home on the SW corner of Rule and Marshall is also the same plan of the first style.  It retains many of the original details such as the half-round window in the front gable, the brackets above the bays and very rare to find, the wooden cornice molding.  Notice how the gutter was mounted in order to preserve the cornice.

This fine home at 7255 Rule, on the NW corner of Rule and Marshall, is also of the first style. It, too, still features the original half-round window.  In this case, the front porch has been extended all of the way across the front of the house.  A later alteration has been made to the exterior wall above the porch.

In this beautiful home on Rule the plan was altered. Triple windows have replaced the bay windows on the first floor.  The opening for the half-round window is still there but with a louver instead.

This was the same plan as the previous home but now the porch has been enlarged and the exterior wall has been altered.

This advertisement with this excellent drawing is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 13, 1890. This is the second mention of Fraser Park that I found and the second style of home offered.

With just a few changes, it ran again on May 4, 1890.

This lovely home at the SE corner of Moller and Lowry seems to be the only one of the advertised style that was actually built. Check out the footprint on the 1909 map.  The bay projecting at 45 degrees from the main part of the home is clearly shown.  Restoring the original windows certainly helps to retain the beauty of the original plan.  I took this photograph on April 4, 2020.

This third style of home with a curved roof line was advertised in August of 1890.  Apparently only one was built.

This is a front view of the third style taken on April 3, 2020.  Just as shown in the ad, the front porch extends the width of the building, triple, original, double-hungs on the second floor are above bay windows on the first.  The diamond-shaped window in the gable end is a nice feature.

In this image from 2010, the curved roof line is visible as is the oriel window on brackets on the west wall.

I happened to notice this article in the 1904 Suburban Journal, an original copy of which was in the box that Jim Fischer gave to me and Luke Havel.  I think this plan is called a Four Square but the article says that this home has ten rooms so maybe it’s a Five Square.  (This is a joke).  Referring again to the 1909 map, I only see one place where this home may have been located – the SW corner of Moller and Marshall.  That corner today sports an Art Deco apartment building.  A nice one.  The exterior with a courtyard is very attractive.

These apartments have several Art Deco features such as rounded corners, glass blocks and windows set into the corners where in ordinary construction they would interrupt a part of the structural frame.

One of the rounded corners and glass blocks.

Corner windows.

In this ad that ran in August 1891, seven homes were offered either for sale or for rent. Hmmm?  I guess William Fraser built seven homes on spec?

Then in March of 1892, William Fraser passed away.

Less than one month after Fraser’s death, this ad ran on April 17, 1892 in the STL Post-Dispatch.  That $5,000 in 1892 is worth about $147,661.00 today.  Seems like a good deal since one of those houses is worth a great deal more than that now.

In November of 1892, four of Fraser’s homes were apparently sold.

This ad ran in the Suburban Journal in 1904. Notice that even though the two drawings are different from the ones Fraser used when he first advertised these homes in 1890, the homes are undoubtedly the same.

This is just one of the many fine homes in Fraser Park. You should plan a stroll through this very interesting neighborhood on one of the warm spring days that we will soon be having.

 

I do appreciate all of the tips, comments, suggestions, compliments, texts, phone calls, postcards and letters from some of you who follow this space.   After all this time, 10+ years, this is still a very interesting hobby.  Just when I think I have finally run out of material, more inevitably arrives from somewhere.

We are halfway through January.  This time of year is generally a slog to be endured even when there is not a pandemic.  Hopefully we’ll soon be coming out of this nightmare.  I hope we will all be able to relax, just enjoy living and maybe even go to a movie now and then.

I will be getting a shot as soon as I am able.  Wear your masks.

Doug Houser             January 16, 2021

 

 

16 thoughts on “Maplewood History: Fraser Park

  1. I see Mr Fraser will meet you at the station to show you around. So I am wondering was he the owner of all that property at one time and then developed it and sold off the lots, was he the real estate agent, was he the builder of the homes. How did he come by that much land if it was his?, It says he owned a candy store downtown but also mentions all this connection with Maplewood. I like the houses but want to know any more about the man if there is any to be found.

    And the apartment buildings in that area, were the built after existing houses were torn down or were there no houses there to begin with?

    • Hey Mark, If you’d like to learn more about Mr. William H. Fraser, you could try searching his name in the old newspapers which can be done online free through the STL County Library system. I probably won’t simply because of the time it would take.
      My guess is that he owned (along with the bank) some of the houses. One ad mentions 7 homes either for rent or for sale. Another mentions an auction of 4 houses after he had passed to close his estate.
      As for the apartment buildings, I would say offhand that most of them replaced existing buildings. The one in this post certainly did. Look again at the 1909 map at the north side of Anna St. As we well know half or more of that block is now apartment buildings.
      I appreciate your comments. You may qualify as one of the most frequent commenters. That’s fine. Keep it up.

  2. This neighborhood is next door to mine. I love walking or driving through Fraser Park. It’s great to see how it came about. Only yesterday my daughter and I drove slowly around Maplewood admiring the architecture. We were both saying we would love to see a “map” of Maplewood that started blank and then filled in by date as buildings were built etc and Maplewood became what it is today. Thank you so much!

    • You are welcome, Patty. I would like to see a map like you suggest as well. Perhaps a digital one folks could bring up on their devices as they toured our town. I’d be happy to work with anyone who wanted to make such a map a reality. Thank you for your very pleasant, good-natured comments.

  3. I looked at one of your old posts. My assumption in my previous comment was wrong. That station was not there until 1930. So where was “Ellendale Station”? Same as the original Maplewood station on Greenwood before a name change?

    • Here you go, Hammerhead, a link to the post about the Maplewood train depots: https://bit.ly/3qwVj1h

      Concerning the Ellendale Station: https://bit.ly/35O1whx

      And from that post: The Washington Institute was not an early version of Washington University. It was located on an acre that James Sr. had given it which today would be the NE corner of the intersection of Southwest Ave. and the railroad tracks. (Later the Ellendale train station would occupy that location.) Eventually the Washington Institute moved and was known as first, Bartold Valley School, then just Valley School and by 1911, the Maplewood High School, built the prior year. Its location at that time was directly across Manchester from our present (in 2019) city hall. (Only the stone wall remains, now bordering an apartment complex.)

  4. Great stuff, Doug. The results of your research are very impressive, as well as your two books on Maplewood history. Thanks for leaving those records for us and later generations.

    I assume the Ellendale Station mentioned in the ads was at the top of the still existing stone stairs coming from Arbor, but I don’t recall ever seeing a photo of it.

    Also, it just occurred to me — how in the world did these homes survive the big dynamite
    Blast of 1916? They couldn’t have been unscathed. Rebuilt?

  5. Thank you for this fantastic article of this neighborhood. I would love to see more articles like this where you find old pictures of homes and then find the same home today.

    • You are welcome, Kristen. In all of the years I have been doing this I have never found drawings of any of the homes such as the ones in this post. It is exceedingly rare. I have definitely done what you suggest, then and now, probably more with with images of the commercial buildings than private residences. The only ways I know that you could search my past blogs, click on my name at the top of the first page of 40 South News (you can go backwards from there) or you can search my name on 40 South News or probably (but I’ve never tried it) on Google. Or you can search on Google for something that you know the name of such as Scheidt Hardware or the Maplewood Theater. Good luck.

  6. Thanks for featuring our neighborhood, Doug! It’s a great little pocket of Maplewood to call home.

  7. Thank you for posting this. I always wondered about the apartments across from Immaculate Conception Church. I always wanted to see what they looked like inside. Those houses were always well taken care of when we went by them walking back and forth to school. Very beautiful homes.

    • You are very welcome, Mary. The U shaped Art Deco apartment building is an architectural asset to the neighborhood. I think we’re very lucky that nothing has been built in the courtyard. It is nice to know that someone else has appreciated it as well. Thank you for your comment.