Robbers Accost Architect

On Thursday, November 18, 1897, St. Louis architect Alfred M. Baker was walking to his home on Palm Street after departing a streetcar on N. Grand Boulevard.  It was about 5:30 pm and a rather bright evening even though it was after dusk.

As Mr. Baker turned west onto Palm Street from N. Grand Boulevard, two men approached him almost directly under the street lamp.  One of the men pulled a revolver and announced a holdup.


Photo of N. Grand Boulevard and Palm Street Intersection – Courtesy of Google Earth

Due to the light conditions, the clearly visible face of the two men and the early hour, Mr. Baker thought the men were playing a trick on him.  “That’s a good joke, boys.”, he said as he continued to his home.  When the unarmed youth grabbed his diamond shirt stud, he realized they weren’t joking.

Mr. Baker began screaming “murder” and tried to get away from the two men.  The armed youth brought his pistol down onto Mr. Baker’s head but without enough force to really faze him.  With the adrenal pumping through his body, Mr. Baker continued to yell “murder” and move towards his house.  The men accosted him almost in front of his home.

Being unable to control Mr. Baker and concerned about attracting attention on the well-travelled street, both men fled south on N. Grand.  They were able to make their escape before authorities arrived.  Mr. Baker did not lose any of his property.  While shaken up, Mr. Baker did not suffer a serious injury but had a lump on his head for several days.

St. Louis Police thought the men to be young, inexperienced robbers due to the poor execution of the attempted holdup and not bothering to hide their identity.  Despite their effort, the robbers weren’t identified.

Today, the east end of this block where the robbery occurred is commercial with two restaurants and warehouse.  Mr. Baker’s house was likely demolished to make way for the commercial development.  The intersection is still quite busy but cars have replaced streetcars.  I can’t find a death certificate for Mr. Baker, so it’s probably he passed away before 1910.  It was just a moment that passed quietly in the history of a major U.S. city.

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Sources: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 20, 1897 edition, p. 1

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