Maplewood History: The McGregor Bakery and the Family Behind It

A little over 11 months ago I created a post entitled, “A Serendipitous Encounter with the McGregor Family Home and History.” It turned out to be very popular. 46 comments.  Wish they all got that sort of attention.

One of the very positive things that came about was that contact was made with some of the descendants of the Maplewood McGregors.  Through their family historian, Doug McGregor, and with input from other family members more information and historic photographs were gained.

The task of an editor is deciding what to pass on and what “to leave on the cutting room floor” as Doug McGregor put it. In a perfect world every family would have their own history in book form.  In this world, the McGregors are getting 12 pages in my next book and two more posts on my blog.

George Albert McGregor was born in Brunswick, Canada in 1872. He met and (despite his in-laws considering him a low-life Canadian) married Evelyn Whitcomb in Boston on Jan. 1, 1900. After a store he owned there burned, they moved to Maplewood where he quickly established the McGregor Baking Company at 3107 Sutton.  Historic images and information throughout this article are courtesy of Doug McGregor and the McGregor family.

His ca.1900 bakery building at 3107 Sutton later housed the Powhatan Theater. As of this writing in 2018, his building still stands.

According to an unidentified newspaper clipping business was good.  Perhaps this is why the 1912 Maplewood Business directory gives 7303 Picadilly Ave as the address of the bakery. The directory also lists the McGregor residence as being at 3406 Greenwood boul (Boulevard). Directory is courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

In the background of this 1917 photograph of two of their six children can be seen a house with a shingled round turret. This is the only one of their historic images in which this building is seen. I wondered if this may have been their home at 3406 Greenwood. A good bit of checking revealed that it wasn’t.  It was their neighbor’s.

Sometimes I get lucky. Their home at 3406 Greenwood Boulevard was built in 1906. I would be curious to know if it was built for them. This postcard clearly shows that Fran and John are seated in their own front yard with the neighbor’s turreted house in the background. The number 7286 is a stock number of the postcard, not a street address. Thanks to Andrew Rochman for the vintage postcard, Zillow for the image of 3342 Greenwood & Google maps for the image of 3406.  The 3348-50 photo is by Yours truly.

Willard, Francis, George and Donald McGregor. While the family was living at 3406 Greenwood Boulevard tragedy struck! In 1916, their eleven year old son, Donald, chasing a baseball into the street was struck by a truck and fatally injured. They moved to 7380 Flora in 1922.

Dorothy, John, Francis and Evelyn lined up in the side yard just to the east of their new home at 7380 Flora. The side yard no longer exists. An infill home was built there. The neighbors homes in the background are still there.

Dorothy McGregor-1922

Evelyn McGregor-1922

Dorothy McGregor again-1922

And here’s Dorothy one more time, up a tree, also in 1922.

This one is of Francis in 1924 standing behind the porch on the east side.  The second story is a sleeping porch.

Evelyn’s father, a veteran of the American Civil War, Augustus Whitcomb relaxing in the yard.  Doug McGregor had this to say about him. “He was a clerk for the railroad in Boxborough, MA, where the Whitcombs had lived since just after the Mayflower. He was transferred to Boston, which is where his daughter met my grandfather. He moved to St. Louis to live out his final days after his wife died.”  Not bad.  This has to be our first known direct Maplewood connection to the Mayflower.

Gus’ war stuff. Courtesy of Doug McGregor.

 

Please stay tuned.  I have one more post about the McGregor family.  It will follow as  soon as I can get it worked up.  Additionally, Billy Jones, Maplewood’s favorite memoirist, who has been lauded* for the “Norman Rockwell” type of scenarios that he keeps turning out, has three, yes that’s 3 more that are in the bag.  I just have to get them out.  That alone should be enough to keep you watching this space.  C’mon, spring!  DH

*by Gary Tash

10 thoughts on “Maplewood History: The McGregor Bakery and the Family Behind It

  1. Doug, I think that Dorothy and Evelyn in foreign costumes were part of programs held at the Sutton School. On page 110 of your book one sees this type of costuming in 1923. Almost surely the girls attended that school since they lived on Greenwood. Years ago I was in that house to tend to an infant toddler. A mixed race family lived there and the house wasn’t in the best shape, it has been completely rehabbed since. The oldest child of the family I knew there went on to become an accomplished wood worker with his own business, Dwayne Tiggs.

    • Hey Gary, The McGregors moved to 7380 Flora in 1922 but the kids probably still went to the Sutton school. That’s a good catch. I think you’re probably right in suspecting their costumes had something to do with a program at their school. Gary refers to a couple of photographs in my first book (“the First one hundred years, Maplewood MO”* which was created for the Maplewood centennial in 2008 and is still available at the Chamber on Sutton $20) that were lent by Maxine Dehn (Fellhauer) that depict young children dressed with a Japanese theme in one (pg 110) and with band costumes in the other (pg 40). Maxine is in both of them. Strangely enough although the children have completely different costumes in each photo both were taken on the same day, June 1, 1923.
      * Blame the cover designer for the creative capitalization used in the title. I find it impossible to remember and have to reach for the book every time I type the title. Rest assured the capitalization in my third book’s title will be traditional, “Maplewood History – Volume One”. My third book will be my second book of Maplewood history. So why then the “Volume One”? Because it will be the first of a set containing my blog posts that will be enhanced and transmogrified somewhat from their original form. I intend to make as many of these books as I can stand. The work on Maplewood History – Volume One” is progressing nicely. As of today I have the lion’s share of 125 pages laid out, most complete, some still needing a few trips to the libraries. I can’t predict exactly when it will be out but I’m encouraged by the amount of work I’ve been able to get out lately. I’ll let you know ahead of time.

  2. Too bad I didn’t think of this when I first created this post. A Maplewood update to an old poem.

    If March winds bring April showers and April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Answer: Whitcombs.

  3. Really enjoyed the article and all the pictures especially of my mom Dorothy. Thanks so much, can’t wait for more.

  4. Thank you, as always. Great story . I’m wondering if you have any information at all about the houses on Cherry Ave? or how I would research a house there

    • Hey Patty, I’m sorry but I have no information at all on the homes on Cherry. At the Headquarters branch of the St. Louis County library you can find county directories that can help you identify past owners. I believe they also are found at the Missouri History Museum’s archives on Skinker. It may have been there that I remember seeing a handout with tips for folks like yourself looking for information about their own homes. I have recently found some interesting information about my own home by searching the Post-Dispatch archives which can be accessed online with your library card number. Just searching for my address, I found that the family that owned my home during the first World War lost a son to it. I also found it listed for sale and advertised as having a tile roof, something of which I had not the slightest prior inkling. Good luck.

      • Thank you so much, Doug. I absolutely love the stories that are connected with Maplewood’s great old homes. I hope to use your hints and do a bit of research.

  5. Nice story. I remember the Sutton Bakery and Laux but this is a new one for me.
    Does anyone else remember the Priscilla Ice Cream Shop on Sutton near Flora?

    • Thank you for the compliment, Don. So far, it seems you are the only one who remembers the Priscilla Ice Cream Shop.