Maplewood History: Where was the Maplewood Laundry?

Perhaps the title of this post should be Where was the Maplewood Laundry and Why Would Anyone Care?  In just a couple of minutes you’ll be able to answer both of those questions.  Though I don’t know the exact years, the Maplewood Laundry prospered more than 100 years before today’s Maplewood Wash House.

The impetus for this post is an article about the Maplewood Laundry that Mary Piles, relentless curator of things historic at our town’s Citizen’s National Bank of Maplewood (now known as CNB St. Louis Bank) had uncovered in her research.  I decided it would be interesting to include what images I could of buildings that once shared space with the laundry on Manchester.  Thanks again, Mary.

This appears to be the earliest image that I have of the Maplewood Laundry. The 7319 was part of the company’s long time address on Manchester.  I no longer know where this image came from.  Most likely something at the Maplewood Public Library.

This is probably next in the lineup of images for the laundry. You’ll notice it is a different building. I’ve had this image for a very long time. When I first began this quest I didn’t keep as good records as I now do.  Still I know this image is from our library’s collection.  It is a postcard.  The 7284 is a stock number and not an address.  If I remember correctly there is something written on the back of this with a postmark.  I think the date was about 1910 but I can’t be certain.  I’ll check next time I’m at the library.  I believe this building was constructed of concrete blocks with a rusticated surface to hopefully look a bit like stone. There are at least two homes in the neighborhood made from the same product.  You might like to take a look back at Emma Thomas Grumley to see one of these homes.

In this ad from the 1912 Maplewood Directory notice the address, 7315-17-19. The three numbers seem to have been in their address all along.

Perhaps you can see the address on the building in this enlargement from the prior photo?  The view is toward Oakview Terrace.  The building on the right with the pointed parapet is the Bank of Maplewood.  Notice the small two-story storefront building between them.  We’ll see it from a couple of different angles in the upcoming images.

To capture this early image the photographer was standing in the 7200 block of Manchester looking east. On the right, past the horse and buggy is the two-story building I just mentioned with a small white building next to it.  The rig is parked right next to the Bank of Maplewood.  On the left, only a turret of the building on the SE corner of Marshall and Manchester is visible.  This building is now home to Foundation Grounds.  I suspect the turret was removed during a modernizing of the structure.  The next three buildings on the left were lost in the 1970s.  Citizen’s Park now occupies the site.  This also a postcard.  No date on it.  Courtesy of Donna Ratkowski.

This postcard from our library’s collection is one of the best historic images that we have.  On the left is the SW corner of Manchester and Marshall, now the site of Citizen’s Park.  Parked by the curb is what appears to be a small truck possibly a Model TT Ford.  On the right is the best look we have of the two-story building and its small white frame neighbor. I have no idea what businesses they once held.  You’ve got to love that electric streetcar in motion.  Thank you, Mr. Bregstone.

If you look carefully, you can make out some of those concrete blocks of the laundry building just to the right of the streetcar.  So what year was this image made?  Read on.

It is easy to see the date, August 16, 1916, with the high magnification the computer provides.  One of the Maplewood History mysteries concerned Florence Koester, William’s daughter?  What was so strange?  There were two of each.  Two William Koesters, both with daughters named Florence, living just blocks apart at the same time!  Check it out. Part One. Part Two. and Part Three.  I don’t understand the rest of the address.

This image appeared in the 1920 History of St. Louis County. Business must have been very good. The address was still the same.  The text of the article follows.

Mary Piles was kind enough to send us this article.

If Charlie Fieldson walked out of the laundry and headed west, he probably would have passed this building owned by R.T. Kalb at 7323 Manchester.  After all as R.T. advertised on his second building at Big Bend and Ellis Avenue, Kalb Electric since 1909.  For more on R. T. (a lot more), see my posts about his business, Kalb Electric.

Just a little further to the west, Charlie probably passed J.W. Welsh’s Sheet Metal Emporium (my word) at 7351 Manchester which was doing business in 1916 as this postcard indicates.

If Charlie continued his westward walk and crossed Sutton Avenue, he may have walked right by the Banner Lumber Co. at 7401 Manchester. This image is from about 1903 according to what is written on the back. Otto Berner is one of those fellows. Courtesy of Maplewood Public Library.

If the year Charlie took this imaginary walk was 1904, Banner Lumber may have looked like this image from the St, Louis Suburban Journal of the same year.  But if it was 1908 or later, there is not telling what he might have seen for Banner Lumber burned that year.  It was a conflagration that was said to have spurred the incorporation of the City of Maplewood so we could have a fire department.

If instead of heading west, Charlie had crossed Manchester, he would have noted this very fine building on the SW corner of Marshall and Manchester.  Every time I look at this photo, I feel sick.  We never should have lost this excellent building. Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

S.V. Wise, who I assume could be the builder, included a similar drawing in his advertisement in the 1896 Directory of St. Louis County.  From the Headquarters Branch of the St. Louis County Library.


There is a lot more but the size of Charlie’s fictional walk is getting unwieldy.  I’ll continue it at some point in the future.

This is my three hundred and third post about Maplewood History on 40 South News.  I was in a couple of other places prior so there should be somewhere around four hundred posts floating in the ether.  I started with Doug Miner and 40 South almost exactly seven years ago.  My first post was on Oct. 27 at 11:58 pm.

This has been a very satisfying endeavor for me.  Doug and his lovely wife, Nancy have become good friends.  We have never had a disagreement.

It seems like the more posts I create, the more there are waiting in the wings.  The blog is self generating in that respect.  There have been so many nice and generous folks contribute to this effort that I will not try to name them because I would inevitably leave many out.  Thanks to all of them and to all of you who support this backward view of our town.

Doug Houser            October 28, 2020







11 thoughts on “Maplewood History: Where was the Maplewood Laundry?

  1. “Modern Woodmen of America is a member-owned fraternal financial services organization. Together with our more than 740,000 members, we’ve been touching lives and securing futures since 1883.”
    Copied frrom from their web site.

    • Hi Tom, I googled Modern Woodmen as well. The organization is still around and it’s vast! Amazing that none of us have heard of them. Anyone interested should check out the Wikipedia entry.

  2. You do a great job Doug! I hope you don’t stop any time soon! Modern Woodmen sounds like an Outdoor Sportsman type club to me….certainly Google has heard of them?

  3. The post says Charlie was a member of the Modern Woodmen. I have no idea who they were? Union Carpenter’s? A lumberyard group? A band that played woodwind instruments?

    • Modern Woodmen of America was founded by Joseph Cullen Root on January 5, 1883, in Lyons, Iowa. He had operated a number of businesses, including a mercantile establishment, a grain elevator and two flour mills, sold insurance and real estate, taught bookkeeping classes, managed a lecture bureau, and practiced law. Root was a member of several fraternal societies throughout the years. He wanted to create an organization that would protect families following the death of a breadwinner.

      During a Sunday sermon, Root heard the pastor tell a parable about pioneer woodmen clearing away forests to build homes, communities and security for their families. He adopted the term “woodmen” for his organization. To complete the name, he added “modern” to reflect the need to stay current and change with the times, and “of America” to symbolize patriotism.
      I’m not sure but one of the insurance companies provided a rather large concrete tree stump for a headstone. It could be them. There are several in St Peter and Paul on Gravois.


  4. Great trip down Manchester Doug, I feel like I walked it with you and Charlie. Thanks for the walk around the neighborhood. Stay safe my friend.