St. Louis

mlk charrette – 11.jpg,” originally uploaded by

Possibly the most extensive and thoughtful documentation of any single MLK has been that carried out on the site Urban Review STL by Steve Patterson . The above photograph is one of several he contributed to the MLK BLVD Flickr Pool a while back. At the time, the St. Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects was conducting a “design charrette” in St. Louis’ Ville neighborhood — a historic area where MLK Drive is a major street. “During the event I scootered up and down MLK getting photos of buildings both in the Ville and in areas east and west,” Patterson later wrote.

Of the above building he wrote: “Stunning building with corner storefront and attached flats.”

In September 2006, the building was razed:

IMG_5456.jpg,” originally uploaded by

Patterson wrote at the time: “The photos are all that remain of this building that, if rehabbed, could have made a nice contribution to the streetscape. Instead another vacant lot will join all the others along MLK.”

More of Patterson’s images, plus links to and highlights from his writing on MLK Drive in St. Louis, after the jump. This past January, Patterson offered a five-post series on MLK Drive; it starts here. That first post offers a bit of historic background, quoted here:

Most of the street we now call MLK Drive was known as Easton Ave and a small part of Franklin Ave. (East of Jefferson).

Easton Ave & Franklin Ave were named for Dr. King in 1972, four years after his assasination in 1968.

In 1948 the US Supreme Court ruled on a St. Louis case, Shelley vs. Kramer, that racially restrictive covenants prohibiting non-whites from owning property in certain areas could not be enforced by the government. That case involved a house on Labadie Ave just 10 blocks north of then Easton Ave near Kingshighway. And yes, it was the “Kramer’s” that were seeking to keep the Shelley’s off their street, long before Michael Richards portrayed character Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld.

The historically black neighborhood, The Ville, borders MLK and is just blocks to the east of the area where the Shelley vs. Kramer case was attempting to keep out blacks. Following the 1948 ruling, black families could search for housing throughout the city. And leave they did, the Ville’s population dropped by nearly 40% between 1950 and 1970. For perspective, the city’s overall population drop in the same period was roughly 28% so we can see the Ville experienced a much higher rate of outflux. To be fair, restrictive actions meant to contain blacks in the Ville and a few other small areas meant the Ville was likely far more overcrowded than many other parts of the city. Still, the city lost 237,527 residents during this two decade period so the writing was on the wall for urban commercial streets like MLK Drive.

Partly in response to the loss of population, the streetcar line that once traversed the length of then Easton ran its final time on July 28, 1963 — nearly 44 years ago! It was replaced the following day with bus service.

Toward the end of that post he writes: “St. Louis’ MLK Drive is not worthy of the man it is intended to honor. We should be ashamed of the condition we’ve let this once vibrant street get to. We must also hold up higher standards for how we invest in the future of the street.” Here again is a link to his series.

The images below are among those Patterson contributed to the MLK BLVD Flickr pool (and the comments below each images are his). More of his MLK Drive/St. Louis images can be found in several of his Flickr sets:

St. Louis’ MLK Drive — Tucker to Jefferson.”

St. Louis’ MLK Drive — Jefferson to Grand.”

St. Louis’ MLK Drive — Grand to Kingshighway.”

St. Louis’ MLK Drive — Kingshighway West.”


mlk charrette – 13.jpg,” originally uploaded by

“Probably one of the most significant corner mixed use buildings in all of St. Louis. Beautifully detailed and wonderfully proportioned. A classic.”

mlk charrette – 15.jpg,” originally uploaded by

“This spectacular building on MLK in The Ville has perfect detailing. This is an ideal candidate for rehab into a couple of storefronts and a couple of upper level condos. 42xx MLK .”


9 responses to “St. Louis

  1. Pingback: More St. Louis « MLK BLVD

  2. Pingback: More from STL « MLK BLVD

  3. Does anyone remember where the Clayton Cycle Co. was located on 5165 Easton Ave. and might there be any photos of this bicycle shop?

    Thanks, Stan

  4. Lynn Isselhardt Power

    Hi Stan, I am the daughter of Lorraine Isselhardt who, along with my mother, Lucille Isselhardt, owned Clayton Cycle Company. I will see if I can find any decent photos of the building. We were located directly across the street from Reliance Automotive. My father was shot and killed during an attempted robbery in 1973 and Clayton Cycle Company was relocated five years later to Second Avenue. Take care, Lynn

  5. Lynn, Thanks for the reply. I am very sorry you lost your father to such a selfish incident.
    The reason for my post is I have two calenders from the Clayton Cycle Co., one from 1956 and the other 1964. Both are baseball calenders, the 1956 calendar is of JoeDimaggio and a young boy batting and the 1964 calendar is of Roger Hornsby watching a boy slide into second base.
    I have framed these calenders and they hang on the wall in my home. These calenders remind me of what America is all about.
    If you do have any information or other items I could display with these calenders I would truly appreciate your efforts. These calenders were found in my wife’s aunts attic in Columbus, Kansas, where they owned a Western Auto dealership.

    Thanks, Stan

  6. Linda Buxell Allen

    Interesting photos and history. Was wondering if anyone knows anything about Buxell Coal Company that was located at 3724 Easton? I’ve been searching for ages and can’t come up with anything. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks

    • Joyce Bock Bauer

      My Maternal Grandfather worked for Buxell Coal Company for years. His name was John (Jack) Schroeder. I remember when I was young, he was at work at his desk and was hit over the head by an intruder. I know he was a salesman, and don’t remember him ever working anywhere else.

  7. Does anyone remember the Chineese Food Restaraunt that was located on Easton Street back in the late 40s early50s ? What was the name of it?

  8. My great-grandfather owned a shoe store at 4104 Easton in the early 1900’s–probably before 1907. Does anyone have pictures or knowledge of the store–Hellmich Shoes? William Hellmich also partnered with another owner before that, Hellmich and Bosemann Shoes.

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