Saturday, February 6, 2010

Marine Villa Neighborhood

Marine Villa is a south St. Louis neighborhood bound by Cherokee Street to the north, Gasconade to the south, Jefferson and Broadway to the west and the mighty Mississippi River to the east:
 This neighborhood appears to have a very active neighborhood association and is well connected to each other through a yahoo group, facebook page and a Marine Villa blog.  They also have a very cool looking neighborhood logo:
There are many landmarks within Marine Villa that are probably known to most.  You have the awesome former Lemp Brewery and International Shoe Company factory:
The south side of the Cherokee Antique Row resides in Marine Villa:
Many large employers exist in Marine Villa:  Sigma Aldrich, Concordia Publishing House, the National Archives and Records Administration and Valvoline Oil and other industrial sites near the Mississippi River:

 One of my favorite music venues and smoke free bars:  Off Broadway 

The intersection of Jefferson and Cherokee is a convergence of four distinct neighborhoods:  the south east corner is Marine Villa, the south west is Gravois Park, the north west is Benton Park West and the north east is Benton Park.  I was getting a cup of joe at Foam and asked the barista what neighborhood we were in (just to see if he knew), the place was filled with customers who overheard my question and several people chimed in with the info.  These locals know their facts; I am consistently amazed at how engaged St. Louisians are in their neighborhoods and surroundings.  Too bad the city doesn't know this info, as this sign is posted on Cherokee and Missouri:
The sign say "You are in Dutchtown".  Word up, you are not in Dutchtown, you're in Marine Villa....
So, Marine Villa had a rough decade from 1990 to 2000 losing 13% of its residents.  2,909 were counted, 47% black, 47% white, 3% Hispanic/Latino, 2% Asian.  1,576 housing units were counted in 2000, 75% of which were occupied.  It's split 40%/60% owner/renter.  The 75% occupancy (which is relatively low) seemed to be fairly real today as well.  There are many boarded up homes waiting for some tender love and care:
^Looks like little Johnnie got a paint ball gun under the tree this X-mas.

 But don't let that get you down, these are not the prevailing scenes in Marine Villa.  This is a rehabber's paradise.  I was licking my chops thinking of all the opportunities.  This would be a great place to invest.  I could see this being the Benton Park or Soulard of the future.  Many of the homes are really reminiscent of those 2 neighborhoods, put it's proabably a little more architecturally diverse.  Take a look at some of my favorites:
Notice the intricate fleur de lis in the brickwork:

As I've mentioned before, I'm a huge fan of ceramic glazed bricks.  This building is a treasure trove of such bricks:
Notice the lettering patterned into the shingles:

I found a couple examples of what I think are called "flounder homes" which are defined as (source):

The flounder, sometimes called a half-flounder, is a house type which appears to be unique to St. Louis. The flounder is a narrow house, usually two or two and a half stories tall, and one or two bays wide. Entry was most often from the side elevation, which sometimes had a two-story gallery. Since these houses were exclusively working class homes, decoration was limited, confined to segmental arched windows and perhaps a corbelled cornice. Flounder houses were especially appropriate for dense neighborhoods, where space was at a premium. They were often constructed as alley buildings, sharing a lot with as many as two larger tenement buildings. Flounder houses can be found in the City's oldest neighborhoods, Old North St. Louis, Hyde Park and Soulard.
The brick house at 3810 Kosciusko Street, in the Broadway-Marine neighborhood, is an unusual flounder house in that the roof is not a half gable, but a half gambrel. The house is situated with the gable end parallel to the street. The entry is on the side elevation, and flanked by two windows. The half story above has two dormers, and a delicate brick cornice with dentils. The enclosure which projects above the entry porch is not original.
The two-story brick house at 1825 South 9th Street in Soulard is a more typical flounder example. Like the house on Kosciusko, the narrow half gable end faces the street. There is a two-story side gallery, and a side entrance. The house is set well back from the street, along the alley.
I'm pretty sure these are examples of flounders:
There are some smaller contemporary homes and apartments, especially nearest I-55, which stick out like a sore thumb and make no attempt to fit in with the older homes:
  Yet, there are some examples of new infill that do attempt to match the native homes:

Some nuance:
Broadway has some cool scenes:
I'm bummed that the current owner of the former of the St. Louis Carnival Supply buildings on Broadway is dead set on destruction.  And you guessed it St. Louis for a SURFACE FREAKIN' PARKING LOT for a AUTO-CENTRIC CONTEMPORARY STRIP MALL.
I'm also worried about the future of the former Brick bar that is now owned by Sigma Aldrich.

Marine Villa is a great spot with lots of near and long term potential, especially on the north side of the neighborhood. If the Lemp Brewery complex gets some more activity and the resident base rises, I think this will become a more recognized and frequented part of town for locals.  My feel based on my walk through today is that this is a neighborhood that's attracting a lot of younger (20's and 30's) creative minded people (artists, designers, etc).  There are scads of cool bars, restaurants, businesses (there is a vinyl only record store going in on Cherokee in MV!!!!), and it's a great location for highway and downtown access.


  1. Hi Mark!

    Thanks for covering our neighborhood! You did a great job...

    James McKee

  2. Ah I meant to mention, technically we are part of the dutchtown community. You can find more information via the Dutchtown South Community Corporation which supports and is comprised of the Dutchtown, Marine Villa, Mount Pleasant and Gravois Park neighborhoods. So you will see that sign throughout those four neighborhoods :)

  3. ^Thanks James. But Dutchtown's northern boundary is Chippewa; that part of Cherokee where the sign is posted is in Marine Villa, no? It says "you are in Dutchtown".

  4. Greater Dutchtown has a northern boundary of Chippewa east to Compton. East of Compton, the boundary extends north to Utah. There is a map on their website at

  5. I interned with Dutchtown South Community Corp. Basically, they're a neighborhood/housing corporation, not a neighborhood. They put up those signs. Their service area includes four neighborhoods: Gravois Park, Dutchtown, Marine Villa, and Mount Pleasant. You will see these signs in each neighborhood.

  6. Dutchtown has always gone all the way up to Soulard and Fox Park. These subtle designations came in the 70s and 90s. They were recognized neighborhoods, but Dutchtown was the whole German South Side from Soulard to Carondelet. That's where the name comes from. The sign is not wrong. You are mixing apples and oranges. Dutchtown is a neighborhood like Marine Villa, Benton Park etc, but it is also the whole area. In a few years, there will be a new designation for the Cherokee neighborhood (like there used to be) and the official neighborhood boundaries will change again. But the whole area will still be Dutchtown.

  7. The architectural house plans of the homes and buildings in your town are really nice. The classic brick style is very beautiful to see since a lot of modern buildings have already risen on other parts of the world and old designs are very minimal now.

  8. I stumbled onto your site looking for information on the Jeff Vander Lou neighborhood and couldn't resist a click on my old neighborhood, Marine Villa. It was lovely to revisit some familiar places through your photos-- including my childhood home!

  9. what streets of neighborhoods can i find flounder houses. ms K

  10. Thank you for the great photos. I was looking for a picture of the type of cold water apartment I lived in back in the early 1950's. It was a two story brick building contained four apartments, no bathrooms. The rooms were arranged in a straight row with very high ceilings. It was located where Broadway goes under Hwy. 55. I'm writing an autobiography and wanted to include a picture of something similar to the place I spent my first seven years, 1945-52. Your blog has been helpful.