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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Oak Hill Area of Tower Grove South - Now Historic

I am jumping the gun just a bit, as Monday's Preservation Board meeting will see this National Register of Historic Places nomination approved, but I'm okay with that. The beautiful Oak Hill sub-neighborhood of Tower Grove South will soon be officially designated as historic. Some might scratch their heads and say, "well of course this neighborhood is historic," but in the eyes of the federal and state government, who issue lucrative historic rehabilitation tax credits, your property must be "officially" designated historic either individually or within an approved district.

Oak Hill will be the city's latest historic district. All over St. Louis, these fairly sizable districts are opening new parts of the city to investment in historic properties. Old McRee Town, Grand-Bates, St. Cecelia, the old Wellston shopping district along Martin Luther King, Marine Villa, and more have all been added to the Register recently. Oak Hill is 32 blocks containing 1,261 contributing buildings. Here is a map of the proposed Oak Hill district, from the Cultural Resources Office staff report for the April Preservation Board meeting:

The Oak Hill district extends from Gustine on the west to Portis Avenue on the east; Arsenal on the north to an irregular boundary on the south that includes Humphrey and Utah.

It is notable, to me, for its concentration of historic frame structures mixed in with classic red brick apartment buildings. It also includes the revitalizing Morgan Ford Strip, also known as Skinnytown, which may be the most immediate beneficiary of the historic rehabilitation tax credit. West of Morgan Ford, the architectural diversity increases, with some lightly detailed Queen Anne buildings and even some small Second Empire buildings. Below is a picture of Juniata at Alfred, one block west of Morgan Ford (courtesy of Google Streetview):

A brown brick four-family with St. Louis-style white baker's brick adorns the corner. It neighbors a nice red brick simply-detailed front-entry vernacular building. Next door to that are two Second Empire micro-mansions, followed by a series of simple frame front gable structures. There are a lot of styles working over here. When you throw in lushly planted streetscapes, the result is a beautiful, if understated urban environment.

I'm happy to see Oak Hill gets it due attention!


Will said...

I thought Oak Hill was the portion of the neighborhood further south, between Gravois and maybe Utah.

Matt M. said...

I think many would say Oak Hill extends all the way down to Gravois. I know that Norbury Wayman, neighborhood historian for St. Louis in the 1970s, named all of today's Tower Grove South and Bevo neighborhoods as Oak Hill. Plus the Oak Hill school is on Morgan Ford in Bevo. Historic district boundaries are usually determined by architectural cohesion or area identity. I'm sure in the future someone will want to expand the Oak Hill district further south, if not create a new one.

Anonymous said...

old baltimore gas stations

STLouisrealtor said...

I have really enjoyed watching this area of St. Louis, and many near it come back to life and be revitalized. I can remember just a few years ago when the majority were boarded up. Do you know if St. Louis' CDA program is whats helping?

Anonymous said...

Why isn't all of Utah included? We have worked for years in the Tower Grove South area to make it better.

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