History of Benton Park West
"Benton Park West was already a community by the mid-1880’s in the city of St. Louis. There were carpenters, builders, stone masons, dairymen, gardeners, market owners, grocers, saddle and harness makers, a blacksmith, a midwife, and two saloons to serve the area of about 50 city blocks.The neighborhood was considered a working-class neighborhood and a German community. While most of the residents were working class, many owned their own businesses. There were also some very prominent residents. Many of the beautiful homes the working class immigrants built remain in their architectural grandeur today." - Edna Campos Gravenhorst, Benton Park West
Benton Park West is comprised of two different neighborhoods in the 1970’s, Compton Hill and Marquette-Cheorkee neighborhoods. Parts of these two 1970’s neighborhoods make up the current day Benton Park West. Marquette-Cherokee was bounded by Arsenal Street on the north, Bates Street on the south and Grand Boulevard on the west. Its eastern edge is the bank of the Mississippi River.
The area has a large stock of historic homes, most were built between the 1880s to just past the turn of the century. There are also several storefronts scattered throughout the area and they can be found along Jefferson Avenue, Gravois Avenue and Cherokee Street as well. This neighborhood is also alive with redevelopment activity and has developed a very diverse group of committed residents.
In 2005 Benton Park West was added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Gravois-Jefferson Streetcar Suburb National Historic District. The text below is pulled from the nomination form:
The earliest buildings in the District are generally in the northern pan of the District near late nineteenth century horse-drawn and electric streetcar lines that ran along Gravois Avenue, Arsenal Street, and Jefferson .Avenue. The blocks between Juniata, Arsenal, and Pestalozzi Streets are smaller than those found elsewhere in the District. The convergence of Gravois Avenue and South Jefferson Avenue, roads that date to the sale of the common lands, created a skewed grid of triangular, trapezoidal, and para11elogram blocks. There are numerous alley buildings in this area due to its mixed commercial, industrial, and residential use during the late nineteenth century. Arsenal Street, which predates the subdivision, runs diagonally southeast to northwest. Juniata Street is aligned on a true east-west grid and sets the grid parameters for the remaining street system to the south. Some of the few remaining factories dating to the late nineteenth century are located in this area.
In the area south of Juniata Street to Potomac Street, there are a considerable number of residences and commercial buildings dating to the 1880s because of early horse-drawn streetcar lines along South Jefferson Avenue and Cherokee Street. Cherokee Street was and is a major commercial street and a continuation of a larger retail corridor that extended west from the historic Benton Park neighborhood. Interupting the urban density is Gravois Park, bounded by Potomac and Miami Streets and South Compton and Louisiana Avenues."
Picture: The quarry in the center left, in between Iowa and California, with Utah only a one-block street at the time.
To learn more about the history of Benton Park West, consider purchasing Edna Campost Gravenhorst's book, Benton Park West from Arcadia Publishing. Click here for a link to their site.
On our blog, we have also shared some historical information and photos. Click here to view the Throw Back Tuesday posts.