The Carondelet Neighborhood
Murals on Broadway Public Art Program
Ivory Theater/Ivory Triangle -
Conveniently located just two minutes from I-55 and Loughborough
in the Carondelet neighborhood, the Ivory Theatre is St. Louis’ newest
and most unique entertainment venue. The Ivory Theatre is a an
exciting year-round professional theatre facility presenting a
diverse calendar of musicals, dramas, comedies, concerts, cabaret
performances, youth and family theatre programs, corporate functions and special
events that appeal to all levels and styles of entertainment tastes.
Carondelet Park Rec Plex
The Carondelet Park Rec Plex is now officially open to the public! Thanks to
the City of St. Louis Parks, Recreation and Forestry and YMCA of Greater St.
Louis, the doors to the state-of-the-art 76,000 foot facility opened Thursday,
November 19th at 4:00 pm. read
River City Casino
As eclectic as it is electric, River City Casino offers a delightful
array of diversions for local fun-seekers of every stripe. read
Coca-Cola Syrup Plant Redevelopment –
National Register of Historic Places
$52 million redevelopment project includes 292 apartments
and commercial spaces. Find
out more about this developer...
Carondelet was founded in 1767 by Clement DeLore de Treget, just
a little ways north of a temporary settlement made by Catholic
Missionaries at the mouth of the River des Peres in 1702. He
built his home at the base of what is now Elwood Street near
the river, but above the flood stage. A park now rests just beyond
where the house once stood. DeLore was born in Quercy, France,
and was a former French naval officer, and was apparently appointed
syndic or representative by the Spanish government. This allowed
him to sell or grant lots to settlers.
He was soon joined by other Frenchmen from nearby Cahokia across
the river. This French Creole beginning would affect Carondelet
well into the 1840s. DeLore laid out the Commonfields in an area
that stretched from present day Virgina Ave in the east to Morgansford
Road in the west and from Lafayette in the south to Meramac Street
in the north. More Commons area was laid out to the south for grazing,
stretching as far as River de Peres. This commons was expanded
by Lt. Governor Zenon Trudeau to stretch to a mile beyond what
is now Jefferson Barracks in 1796. The intial lots in the village
itself were 150 feet square with four lots forming a 300 square
foot block. This was as with other French settlements like New
Orleans and Mobile.
Carondelet was originally called Louisburg in honour of King Louis
XV of France, and then Prairie a Catalan, after one of the settlers,
Louis Catalan. Finally in 1794, it was named Carondelet in honor
of Baron Francois Louis Hector de Carondelet, a Fleming appointed
the Spanish governor of Louisiana. It has bore other names as well.
In its early days it was refered to as Delor's Village, and Vide
Poche which means "empty pocket." Judge Wilson Primm
suggested this was due to the Carondelet citizens skill at gambling.
They would send their Saint Louis neighbors home with empty pockets.
village proper originally laid south from Bellerive Park towards
the River des Peres, and east from present day Broadway to the
edge of the bluffs. The Spanish census of 1796 showed Carondelet
to have 181 citizens. By 1850, Carondelet had a population of 1,265.
On August 27, 1832 Carondelet was incorporated as a town by the
County Court. Its town hall was at Bowen Street and Broadway with
a large elm as a meeting tree in the yard. The first trustees were
Eugene Leitensdorfer, Louis Fassenor, Auguste Stube, Louis Guion,
and Joseph Chatillion. On March 1, 1851, Carondelet was incorporated
by an act of the State Legislature as a city. The papers of incorporation
decreed the area of the town to be from "Cave Spring" to
what is now Michigan Ave, then south for 2,640 yards and east to
the Mississippi. The first mayor was Dr. William Taussig, a Bohemian
immigrant and medical doctor. In 1862, the city offices were moved
to the southeast corner of Broadway and Loughborough.
In 1819, the
first church was built and named, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and
St. Joseph of the Angels. The altar and pews had been purchased
at an auction in Saint Louis. They came from the log church that
had stood where the Old Cathedral stands now. In 1859, the parish
was renamed simply St. Mary and St. Joseph. Saint Mary and Saint
Joesph's now stands in the same area.
On July 8, 1826 1,702 acres of the Commons were sold to the United
States government for five dollars. This was to become Jefferson
Barracks, although it was initally called Cantonment Adams in honour
of then president John Qunicy Adams. By 1829, five hundred troops
were stationed there, and it served as a training school for infantry
recruits. They lived in tents until 1837 when the buildings were
finally completed. Eventually, a hospital would be constructed
there as well as many other facilities.
In 1836, at the invitation of Bishop Rosati, the Convent of
the Sisters of St. Joseph came to Carondelet. The order had been
founded in Le Puy, France, by a Jesuit priest in 1647. The order
had been disbanded with the persecution of Catholics that followed
the French Revolution, but reformed in 1807. Upon arrival, the
nuns quickly set about educating the children of Carondelet. Initally
only four sisters were working out of a small log cabin. Yet, by
September, 1837 with the arrival of two more nuns that had stayed
behind in France to learn sign language, they had founded the Saint
Joseph Insitute for the Deaf. The order, at one time disbanded,
saw its true rebirth in Carondelet, and has since spread all over
the United States and to other countries.
Well into the 1840s, French Creole was the prefered language
of Carondelet, and French customs prevailed. The citizens of Carondelet
were characterized as lazy and uneducated. They made their living
by selling food and firewood to St. Louis. By the late 1840s this
began to change. Jacob Steins, a German immigrant acquired land
south of the old French settlement in 1846. He built a home at
what is now the corner of Steins and Rielly, and began encouraging
other Germans to move to Carondelet. Initally, the Germans worked
in the limestone quarries on the bluffs, and used this same stone
to build their homes (quite a few of which still survive). By 1850,
almost half of Carondelet consisted of Germans. The city council
in 1851 authorized the publication of the city ordiances in English
and German. More newcomers would follow in 1849 when a cholera
epidemic and the great fire of St. Louis would force some wealthy
citizens to flee the city for Carondelet. Judge Wilson Primm moved
to what is now 6220 Michigan on what was the outskirts of Carondelet.
Henry T. Blow had moved two years earlier to west of what is now
Virginia Avenue. Blow, even though a Virginian, helped fund Dred
Scott's lawyers in his effort to obtain freedom in 1848. Taylor
Blow (Henry's brother), whose family had owned Dred prior to Irene
Emerson, eventually bought him his freedom.
In 1855, the railroad came to Carondelet as tracks were laid
between Carondelet and the Arsenal. Full railroad service started
in 1858, with extensive machine shops being built in Carondelet
in 1859. The St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad ran iron ore
to the iron works in Carondelet and was a major boom to the small
city. Extensive passenger service also took place between Carondelet,
Kirkwood, and Saint Louis. It was at this time soldier turned farmer
Ulysses S. Grant delivered firewood to the wealthier Carondelet
residents. Grant, trained in engineering at West Point applied
for a position as superintendant of county roads. Dr. Taussig of
Carondelet who was on the county court rejected his application
on the grounds Grant had married into a slave holding family. Carondelet
was growing rapidly as young men like Louis G. Picot moved in and
built homes. Picot's home located southeast of the Sisters of Saint
Joesph was a small castle with a four story tower.
On the eve of the the Civil War, Carondelet like the rest of
the State had divided sympathies. The 1859 election for mayor was
a heated one and that year the Republicans were elected to all
of the city offices but two. Once the war began, many southern
sympathizers joined the Confederate Army. The German settlers however,
were decidedly pro-Union and lead by Henry T. Blow, who would become
a Congressman, and serve as Lincoln's minister to Venezeuela. After
the war, President Grant made him minister to Brazil. Three Union
companies were formed in the area of Carondelet, and one Conferderate
lead by Captain James S. Loughborough and Col. John S. Bowen. Col.
John S. Bowen (later General) designed the defences of Vicksburg
that allowed that city to hold out so long. The defenses were eventually
overwhelmed by armies commanded by Carondelet's wood hauler, General
Ulysses S. Grant. Grant stated in his memoirs at the time of the
surender regarding Bowen, "I had been a neighbor of Bowen's
in Missouri, and knew him well and favorably before the war." Bowen
died not long after Vicksburg of dysentery, after having refused
Grant's offer of assistance from the Union Medical Corps.
builder Picot fled to Canada to avoid giving a loyalty oath to
the Union. Union forces then seized a hotel he was building in
Saint Louis, and tried to seize the castle two months later. Henry
T. Blow interceded on Picot's wife's behalf however, and she was
allowed to stay. Primus Emerson of Carondelet Marine Railway went
to Memphis where he built the ironclad the "Arkansas" for the Confederate
navy. He returned to Carondelet to operate the Carondelet Marine
Railway and Dock Company. It went on to build five riverboats,
but then burned in May, 1866.
Union ironclads were built at Carondelet.
James Eads leased the Carondelet Marine Railway Company (at the
foot of Davis Street, near the mouth of the River des Peres). It
was then known as Eads' Union Marine Works or the Union Iron-Works
or simply Marine Railway. It built the following Cario class ships; "Baron
De Kalb" (originally
the "St. Louis", but renamed as another ship already
bore the name), "Carondelet", "Louisville" and
the "Pittsburgh." Also
built by Eads at Carondelet were the following ironclads and river
monitors; "Fort Henry", "Essex", Neosho, "Osage", "Choctaw", "Winnebago", "Milwaukee",
and the "Chickasaw". Many of these vessels saw important
action. The Carondelet was principal in action at Fort Henry, Fort
Donelson, and Vicksburg. Eads' company is still in operation as
the St. Louis Ship-Federal Barge, Inc, one of the largest barge
builders in the world. Eads also designed and built the Eads Bridge.
As the bridge was being built, it stirred much controversy, and
efforts were made to stop its construction. These stopped when
Dr. Taussig and Eads traveled to Washington and talked to President
Grant in 1873. Grant, not bitter over Taussig costing him a job
as a county engineer, and remembering Eads' gunboats ensured the
bridge was finished.
The war however did not stop Carondelet's
slow growth. In 1865 the population of Carondelet was 4,534. Despite
this growth, in April, 1870, by act of the State Legislature, Carondelet
was annexed to the City of St. Louis. The city council held its
last meeting on Monday, April 4, 1870. The citizens of Carondelet
had little say in the matter, and there was much resentment on
the part of some of the citizens of Carondelet. Never the less,
Carondelet initially benefited from being absorbed by its larger
sister. The St. Louis park and library system came to Carondelet.
Carondelet Park was opened on July 4, 1876. Its land was once part
of the Carondelet Commons.
New schools were built as well. And
in September, 1873, Susan Blow, daughter of Henry Blow, founded
the first continuous public school kindergarten in the United States.
She had studied the idea in Germany, where it had been developed
by Friedrich Frobel. Upon her return, she convinced St. Louis Public
School Superintendant Dr. William Torrey Harris to allow her to
experiment with the idea of a kindergarten at the Des Peres School
in Carondelet. The school building is now the home of the Carondelet
Historical Society. By 1881, every public school in St. Louis had
a kindergarten class. Eventually, the idea would spread across
the United States, and by 1900 200,000 children were in public
In July, 1877, Carondelet with the rest of St. Louis
became a part of a major labor crisis. Wage cuts by the railroads
led to a massive strike by local workers across the nation. Carondelet
as the iron working capital of the region became central to the
strike. Carondelet iron workers marched on Olive Blvd. and seized
quantities of zinc, iron, and steel in Carondelet. Carondelet businessmen
formed a safety committee in reaction, but with mostly iron workers
in attendance, the committee was made of mostly of strikers and
a few businessmen like Charles Chouteau of the Vulcan Iron Works.
The whole affair ended peacefully without the riots of other cities.
The next 20
years were prosperous ones for Carondelet. The Carondelet branch
of the St. Louis Library opened in 1884, and new business buildings
were being built. The iron works prospered as well. New homes of
the Romanesque style were being bult along Michigan, Virginia,
and Vermont Streets in the '90s. Electic streetcars were added
as well, making the ride from Carondelet to downtown St. Louis
in about twenty minutes.
The new century brought more improvements
to Carondelet. John Scullin argued for Carondelet to be the site
of the 1903 World's Fair, but lost as the fair committee felt that
Forest Park would be the better site. In 1908, the present library
building was completed. And Bellerive Park was completed at the
same time with its view over the Mississippi River. Saint Anthony's
Church was built in 1910 with its twin steeples making an obvious
landmark. Other churches built in the area at the time were St.
Paul's Episcopal Church on Michigan Ave and the Carondelet Christian
Church. Adolphus and August Busch built many taverns on the old
Carondelet Commons, and theses unique buildings added character
to the neighborhood. It was a time of rapid growth when the Carondelet
Commons was quickly filling with houses, churches, and businesses.
April 6, 1917 the United States declared war on Germany and entered
World War I. A good number of men from Carondelet served, many
of them only second generation German Americans. With the end of
the war, growth continued in Carondelet. The Woodward School was
completed in 1921, and houses were going up on Bellerive Ave. The
Kingshighway Methodist Church was completed in 1925. St. Cecilia
Parish built a new church in 1926 with beautiful Romanesque exterior
with twin steeples, and a nearly Gothic interior. In 1926, the
present YMCA building was constructed. From 1919 until 1925, the
Carondelet YMCA had been meeting in storefronts. Also during this
time, Holly Hills subdivision was laid out, and the first building
permit issued in 1926. This area continues to be one of the most
beautiful in Carondelet.
The Great Depression hit Carondelet gradually.
Many of its businesses survived for a while after the stock market
crash. Enventually, many of them closed. Even still many businesses
held on. South Broadway had always been the primary business street,
and was home to dime stores, diners, and candy shops. Barter replaced
money as a means of transactions during this time with business
owners trading goods and services. The WPA stabilized the banks
of the River de Peres at this time. The small creek had been a
nuisance flooding often and being a general health hazard. Also
formed around this time was the Spanish Society, a meeting place
for Spanish residents of Carondelet to play cards and talk. World
War II ended the depression for Carondelet as factories were hiring
for steel workers, sewing machine operators, and the assembly lines.
Over 300 men from Carondelet served in the war. After it was over,
the Carondelet area still experienced growth. The area south of
Carondelet Park began to see development, and to the west of it.
Harry Keough, a Carondelet native went on to win fame with soccer's
1950 World Cup competition. Keough captained the American team
which knocked the favorite English team out of the play offs. And
in 1953, Raymond Tucker of Carondelet was elected mayor of St.
In the 1960s, Interstate 55 was built through Carondelet.
Its construction severed old Carondelet from many of the newer
sections, and the area east of the Interstate went into gradual
decline. This decline has continued, although it has never seen
the decay that other parts of the city have. In the last few years,
some recovery has been made. Many of the old houses in the older
section are being refurbished, and while businesses have not returned
to South Broadway, with time and effort, perhaps they will. The
Carondelet Historical Society was founded in 1966 and has managed
to keep most of Carondelet's history alive. In 1981 the Historical
Society bought the Des Peres School and turned it into a historical
center complete with a restoration of Susan Blow's 1873 classroom.
The Carondelet Community Betterment Federation was founded in 1973
and has aided the elderly in maintianing their homes. And in 1985
the South Broadway Merchants Association opened with the goal of
attracting new businesses. Carondelet begins the 21st Century with
about 11,000 citizens and one of the lowest crime rates in the
city. It has a very small town feel, and is beginning to be seen
as a favoured place to live.
A History of Carondelet by Nini Harris, Patrice Press: St. Louis,
Lion of the Valley by James Neal Primm: Boulder, CO. 1981
of St. Louis Neighborhoods by Norburg Wayman, St. Louis Community
Development Agency: St. Louis
6408 Michigan Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63111