Monday, February 1, 2010

Kings Oak Neighborhood

This blog was updated in 2017 to include updated Census data and additions of the Grow exhibit at the Science Center, redo of the Swedish National Society building to a Subway and links to Compton Drew blog.

Kings Oak is a small south St. Louis neighborhood bound by Oakland Avenue on the north, Manchester Avenue on the south, Kingshighway Boulevard on the east and Macklind Avenue on the west. It takes it name from the first syllables of both Kingshighway and Oakland.
Kings Oak is a highly visible neighborhood, as it can be seen just south of I-64, across from Forest Park's baseball fields and horse stables; and it's eastern border is visible on the heavily travelled Kingshighway Blvd.  Several easily recognizable institutions (St. Louis University High, St. Louis Science Center and Compton Drew Investigative Learning School) anchor the neighborhood.

As you can see in the map, this is not a very residential neighborhood, although 243 people call Kings Oak home.  That's a 43% decrease in population from 1990 to 2000.  Of those counted, 50% are black, 43% white, 4% Hispanic/Latino and 3% Asian.  There were 113 total housing units, 89% of which are occupied, 59% of which are owned vs. 41% rented.  My guess would be most of the decrease in population would be from housing demolitions to accommodate light industry, distribution businesses and expansion of St. Louis University High School.  The housing that I was able to find was isolated to Wise, Hereford, Lawn and Berthold on the east side of the neighborhood.  I didn't see 113 housing units, but maybe I missed some, as it's hard to enter the interior of the neighborhood since most of Kings Oak is distribution services, warehouses, wholesale suppliers and light industrial buildings. 

The 2010 Census data was even worse for Kings Oak, as a 26% drop in population was observed. The neighborhood is down to 188 residents, 55% white, 39% black, 4% Hispanic/Latino and 2% Asian (source).

The neighborhood website is pretty uninformative.  Maybe an upgrade of the KO website could be a good project for the students of SLU-High to include some history, demographics and other useful information. 

As I previously mentioned, Kings Oak is home to some of St. Louis' most recognized institutions:  the Science Center and the beautiful campus of St. Louis University High School which was established in 1818:
The Science Center recently upgraded the exterior exhibit just west of the main building. It is called Grow - Explore the Journey of Food. It is absolutely awesome and is complete with a beer garden. Read all about it here.

St. Louis University High:
The Compton Drew Investigative Learning Center is a grades six through eight magnet school with an emphasis on science, technology and math in the St. Louis Public School system. Here's a blog on the school from 2013.
The housing that does exist here is quite attractive.  

What is the style of these arts and crafts homes?  I call them barn houses, and I really like them. I'm not alone, many call these "barn houses" but they are technically in the Dutch Colonial Revival style:

How about these cool angled entry doors:

Many old St. Louis homes still have the coal chutes in place:

This could be a prime potters studio complete with open-air front patio for raku firing/glazing (this suggestion is directed to my better half, the ceramist):

Also present is the Swedish National Society building erected in 1913, now housing an African hair braider's salon.  You've probably seen this right along Kingshighway just north of Manchester.

This building was recently renovated into a Subway and office use:
Kings Oak contains the Carol Gates Throop pet memorial park which is located along Macklind directly across the Humane Society.  There are memorial hand and paw prints of the people, corporations and organizations that helped dedicate this park.  There are brick paver stones that you can purchase to commemorate your beloved pet.  And then there is the Vietnam Wall like monument (columbarium) where you can store your pets ashes.  This one below is from former mayor and fire chief Clarence Harmon, his wife and pet Jo Jo:
There are some really cool light industry and warehousing buildings mixed in with the not so attractive contemporary metal shed structures.  Here are some of the cooler ones:

Former Vestal Chemical Company, now self storage warehouse:

The former Koch Air mod building now vacated and owned by the St. Louis Science Center:

On to the next part of town....


  1. The barn houses are Dutch Colonials. St. Louis seems to have a number of these sprinkled around.

    I just stumbled on to your blog and wanted to thank you for your neighborhood surveys, and your insights on raising kids in the city. My family may be relocating to St. Louis sometime soon, and it is interesting to get the flavor of different neighborhoods.

  2. Did you find any of the few residents living there to have issues with their inability to get to Forest Park? There are some tunnels and overpasses, but they're few and far between.

    Did you cover Cheltenham yet? I'd like to see some coverage of the old arena area. My ideas here,

  3. rc410 thanks for the 411. And if you google dutch colonial homes, and browse the images, St. Louis' are more striking that most.

    Daron, I didn't talk to anyone in the neighborhood. No one was out when I was there. If I lived in Kings Oak, I'd go enter the park through the tunnel right across Oakland from the Science Center. I haven't done Cheltenham yet, I was planning on getting Baden or Walnut Park West next. I'm trying to switch it up and keep it fresh. Nice blog!

  4. The Swedish National Society building has very recently (fall 2013) been demolished.