Maplewood History: From Up In The Air – Part 2

Perhaps the title of this post should be, “1970’s Era Redevelopment Plan Blasted A Huge Crater in the Middle of a Lovely, First-Quarter-of the-Twentieth-Century, Shopping District.”  It’s more complicated than that, I know, but I’ve written about this a couple of times and I’ve got a limited amount of space here to get your attention.

The aerial image featured in this post was taken at the same time as the image in my previous post.  It was made by Joseph Granich as well. He worked for the St. Louis County Observer newspaper which was located in Maplewood.

In the meantime, Thank you, Joe, wherever you are.  Taking an aerial photo in the mid 1950’s must have been an expensive operation.  I imagine you were in a small airplane rather than a helicopter. Since you were clever enough to not have your shadow in the photograph, we’ll just have to guess.  The record you left for us is invaluable today.

The message of these images as I see it is: Look what you had. What is gone is mostly never coming back.  Look at what you still have. Don’t Lose it.

If you are looking at this on your telephone, I hope you can make out the detail.  This is Maplewood from the air, ca. 1955 or thereabouts.  You are looking mainly at the intersection of Oakview Terrace and Manchester.  A small part of Marshall Avenue is visible on the left.

This is the shocker. Every building within the red lines is gone. Completely gone! A small portion of the original Citizen’s Bank building may still be contained somewhere within the more modern current one. But there is nothing left of any of the many other buildings located within those lines. Absolutely nothing.  As I think about it, that is not quite accurate.  There is a stone fragment from the facade of the Maplewood Bank.  It is the piece of stone that says, “Bank”.  That is the only fragment from all of those buildings that I know to exist.

#1 in this detail from the larger image is the original Bank of Maplewood building.  By the time this image was made it had been modernized and for awhile held the Western Auto Store. Much more information is available at this link: http://40southnews.com/maplewood-history-the-bank-of-maplewood-part-1/

#2 in the above photo was this attractive building. In 1907 it was the first home of Scheidt (now True Value) Hardware. Called Wohlwend Hardware at first, Emil and Rosa were there until 1916 when they bought the building at 7320 Manchester where the business has been ever since. Courtesy of Jessica Ernst.  Want more info?  http://40southnews.com/maplewood-history-scheidt-hardwares-roger-over-and-out/

Building #3 has survived. It is home to one of Maplewood’s most popular eating establishments – Foundation Grounds. That is it on the far left of this very early postcard view. It once had a turret. This either came from the Maplewood Public Library or Donna Ratkowski.

Building #4 survives as well. Since 1931 it has been the home of Empire Supply. Even the sign still exists under the more modern one currently in use. Cool or what?  Empire Supply now sells high quality windows by several different manufacturers.  I bought some made by the Crystal Co. in the USA. They are very good windows and the price was great.  If you still have old windows in your home go in and talk to these folks.  You’ll be glad you did.  Courtesy of Don Loomstein.

Building #5 didn’t fare so well. This undated newspaper clipping is from the collection of the Maplewood Public Library.

At least the dog didn’t get burned.

 

I have a mind to run out all of the aerial photos I have in my upcoming blogs.  Also I have some never before published images of the now missing buildings taken by Glenn Haley and sent by Mike Jones.  These will let those of you who never knew them see what many of these places looked like.  They will undoubtedly bring back many memories to those of you who were around back then.

Please support these local businesses who advertise with us.  My wife and I try to shop local whenever we can.  It is amazing the wide variety that is available within the borders of our own small community.

As always, I appreciate those of you who contribute to this effort. As I have said before any hard copies that are donated to me, I put in the Maplewood Public Library.  Many folks have allowed me to digitize their collections.  I appreciate that too.  I have a free copy of my second Maplewood history book for everyone whose material I have used within.  I still have to get the books from the printer, hopefully very soon.

The Maplewood swimming pool is now closed.  Boo.

Doug Houser  9/4/2019

 

28 thoughts on “Maplewood History: From Up In The Air – Part 2

  1. Doug, you mention a stone with the word “Bank” on it. Is that somewhere along the street or in a wall of a building as a memento of it being there? I don’t recall where that might be.

    While talking about parking lots and such I thought I remembered a house on Marietta that sat for a number of years in the middle of what is now the Marietta parking lot. Almost positive there was a gray house there at one time. Am I not remembering that right? You have any pictures or history of that house?

    • Hey Mark, There is a photograph of the “Bank” stone at the end of this post.

      http://40southnews.com/maplewood-history-the-bank-of-maplewood-part-3-continued/

      Since that post was made the stone was sold at the estate sale of the mother of Bob Scheidt. It is now in private hands. I believe I still have the email address of the man who bought it. If he hasn’t sold it yet, it may be possible to buy it. I’d love to see it exhibited on the site of the building where it once belonged. Ideally it could be raised in the air on a pole and displayed in exactly the same location in space that it once occupied on the building.

      Your memory about the last home on the north side of Marietta is correct. Apparently all of the other owners sold their homes when the properties were acquired by the city for the parking lot. One homeowner didn’t wish to sell. Admirably eminent domain was not used. I only knew of a woman living in the home alone. Her last name was Wright, I think. I don’t have an image of her home.

      I know she was alive in 2005 when the controversy erupted over the idiotic redevelopment plan for the properties bounded by Big Bend, Sutton, Manchester and Hazel. If you remember hundreds of people stormed city hall to protest the intended use of eminent domain to take properties from private homeowners and small businesses in order to allow it to be acquired by a larger business. A US Supreme Court ruling allowing just that in New Jersey (Correction: Connecticut) ignited our community. “Is This Home Next?” (Correction:The signs read, “Is This Block Next?”) signs sprouted everywhere. I made the point at that meeting that eminent domain had not been used to acquire Mrs. Wright’s home for the parking lot. That was a precedent I felt we should stick to. Mrs. Wright was in the audience. Our mayor at that time and Pete Rothschild, dba as the Hazel Hurricane were behind that poorly conceived attempt.

      • The owner of TKO DJs was the moving force behind the resistance to the Big Bend , Sutton, Manchester, Hazel land grab. He paid for and gave yard signs to protesters, both home owners and businesses. It was standing room only at the council meeting where the plan was ended.

        • Tom is referring to Matt and Jennifer Williams who own TKO DJs and the St. Louis Closet Company. Both of them joined with many other citizens to help defeat that ridiculous plan. That meeting had the most people in attendance I had ever seen. The council chamber was packed, the hallway was packed, people stood on the outside on the lawn and watched through the windows. Someone passed a speaker out the window so the audience could hear what was said. Bill McClellan from the Post-Dispatch was there. He told me in a conversation later that the citizens reaction was one of the finest examples of democracy in action that he had witnessed. I’m fairly certain that he gave Jennifer Williams his personal Citizen of the Year award for her impassioned speech that evening.

      • Glad to hear my memory is not totally gone. Do you know if there was some sort of an agreement with the city and Mrs Wright that when she passed the land would go to the city for the parking lot? Or if she finally sold? Interesting to be reminded of the other redevelopment that you mentioned and the signs and protest. I had almost forgotten about that.

          • It’s my understanding that the city made a “deal” with Ms. Wright that they would buy her home, but only upon her death. That was what was communicated to our group in Citizen’s Academy class.

  2. Doug, I notice the parking area on the left side of the photo, (actually the south side behind the current buildings) is much smaller then, it appears they tore down a whole block of big homes just to make a parking lot. The irony of this is not long afterwards when Goldie’s and the north side development started, it opened up plenty of parking, oh, how hindsight is 20/20.

  3. Thank you for mentioning that Empire Supply sells windows. I need to replace a few – none are originals to my house but they have a few problems. It will be nice to see what they have.

    Also, why was the Western Auto building (formerly original Maplewood Bank building) torn down? It’s a parking lot now.

  4. Kirkwood did a pretty good job restoring an old redevelopment area like this at Kirkwood Road and railroad tracks. Now brings lots of people to eat and gather,

    • Hey Carl, In one of my former posts, I asked the question, “What comes after Shop’N’Save?” Well we know now. Schnucks. At the time I posed the question, Shop’N’Save was having financial difficulties. Myself and some of the other dreamers envision a completely new development combining residential and retail and executed as well as is humanly possible. Will it ever happen? It could what with the trend towards more densely packed urban areas. Will it happen in my lifetime (I’m 70)? I doubt it. I like the way you’re thinking. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Joni Mitchell in 1970 could have been singing about Maplewood when she recorded “Big Yellow Taxi”, i.e. paving paradise and putting up a parking lot. Too bad we can’t recreate what we had. Can’t wait to see the new book I won!

    • I agree with you, RLucas. It would be great to see some of the best of those buildings we lost recreated? I will get you a copy just as soon as I have them. Thanks for weighing in.

  6. My mind is getting fuzzy, but didn’t I donate a huge aerial view of Maplewood from 1955? I hope I did. The detail in those photos is amazing.

    • I didn’t realize that was you who donated that large photo, Don That was very kind of you. That image I had stored in my basement until last year. It is now in the basement of another fan of Maplewood History. I photographed it with my digital camera. Overall it doesn’t have the sharpness of these aerial images I’ve been using. I’m afraid they won’t reproduce clearly enough to use in this format. It was an awfully nice gesture though. Thanks.

      • Please let me know as well Doug. Have a much less but serious “investment” in your work back when. Love my volume one, SO need to buy a copy before this next version sells out! Thx for all you do! PL

  7. Isn’t the little rectangle northern part of the Citizens Bank still there, existing as the drive thru window section? When you look at it in person you can see what seems to be the old building merged with the new.

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