Old Houses in Lewis Place

     It’s easy to look at the large old homes in North St. Louis, particularly in places such as Lewis Place neighborhood, and surmise that all these old houses were once occupied by St. Louis’ wealthiest citizens.  While it is true in a few instances, many houses were built for middle class citizens, who rented rooms to recent arrivals in the burgeoning city.

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1215 N Taylor Avenue – Courtesy of Google Earth

     William J. Lewis developed an exclusive three block area just north of Delmar Boulevard, which became Lewis Place in the 1890s.  While the area attracted some wealthy St. Louisans, a number of large references were built to serve as rooming houses for middle class families.

     The families lived in the homes and rented out one to three rooms to the many men attracted to St. Louis at the turn of the century for work.  St. Louis was one of the top ten largest cities in the United States.  Home to rapidly developing industries such as brewing, shoe manufacturing and an expanding garment industry, St. Louis was the largest city west of the Mississippi River.

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Rear of 1215 N. Taylor Avenue – Courtesy of Google Earth

     I wrote about one of these large buildings on Cook Avenue.  The massive structure rented rooms from its first owners on.  A second house seems to be a three-story residence down the block at 1215 N. Taylor Avenue.

     Built in 1887, the house is 2692 square feet.  In several editions of the St. Louis Republic, the owners advertise rooms for clean gentlemen with regular habits.  It appears they rented a room on the first floor, second floor and third floor for three total rooms.

     One of the roomers was K.W. Turpin, President of Mechanics’ Lodge 419.  Mr. Turpin may have been renting the room until he could obtain his own residence.

     With St. Louis’ growing population, residents adapted to renting rooms to provide housing to meet the demand of the newcomers without building less popular apartments.  Rooming houses were quite common at the turn of the Twentieth Century in St. Louis.

     Did you know about the popularity of rooming houses in St. Louis?  Why do you think they would be more popular than apartments?  You can leave a comment or ask a question about this or any post on my Facebook pageTwitter profile and Google+ page.

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