Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Gravois Park Neighborhood

Gravois Park is a south St. Louis neighborhood located north of Chippewa, south of Cherokee, east of Grand and west of Jefferson:
Look at that untouched recti-linear grid!  5,826 people were counted in the 2000 census, that's an 8% decrease from 1990.  60% of its residents are black, 31% white, 5% Hispanic/Latino and 4% Asian.  There were 2,818 housing units which were 72% occupied.  The split was 34%/66% owner/rental.  A 10% loss of residents occurred from 2000-2010.  White flight appears to have occured, where Gravois Park is now 68% black, 22% white, 8% Hispanic/Latino and 2% Asian.

This is a south city neighborhood brimming with potential.  It's a diamond in the rough.  There are south city neighborhoods that never went down in quality in terms of property maintenance and residential/neighborhood pride.  Holly Hills, Boulevard Heights, Southampton, North Hampton, Lindenwood Park, St. Louis Hills, Princeton Heights are all examples of neighborhoods that have largely remained clean, tidy, safe and well maintained.  Gravois Park has slipped from it's original graces and is rough around the edges.'s lying in wait for continued positivity that is spreading through the neighborhood, with Cherokee Street as the impetus.

Gravois Park, not unlike Fox Park, McKinley Heights, Benton Park West, Marine Villa and Dutchtown are absolutely beautiful neighborhoods waiting for more people who care to bring them back to life.  Gravois Park is no doubt on it's way up. 

Let's just start on Cherokee which is undergoing a renaissance of sorts.  The streets and sidewalks are currently undergoing a redo with new streetlights, trees and curb cuts.
This is one of my favorite places in the city...especially in the summer.  If you like al fresco Mexican food dining/drinking options, there's no match.  There are Hispanic markets as well with all kinds of locally made delicacies and rare imported stuff that's hard to find anywhere else in the region.  I'm a freak for those homemade fruit popsicles...
And if the Bohemian lifestyle is one that appeals to you, I would say Gravois Park, Marine Villa or Benton Park West would be the best call in all of St. Louis.  There are art galleries lining both sides of the street, many on the Gravois Park side of the street.

Check out the awesome prints at Firecracker Press:
I'll also recommend Jackson Piano in you're in the market; this guy is great and will work with you on a price and a fit for your needs.
Residential property is mixed in with the commercial space toward the Gravois/Grand side of the nabe:
The former Globe Drugs building was one of my favorite places in Gravois Park before their recent closing.
There is an excellent write up on this place by B.E.L.T. here; with great interior photos, etc.

One of the cool things about Gravois Park is it's lined with commercial corridors on all four sides.  Cherokee has arrived, so has Grand.  And Chippewa and Jefferson are lying in wait for more demand.
Ever been to the Jefferson Avenue Bistro?  I need to check this place out.
Here are some sites along Grand:
Some say this was the first indoor mall in America:
Thanks Grand Senior Living Apts for putting the parking in the back!
The original housing stock in Gravois Park is among the best in town in terms of style and charm and diversity.
This row of townhouses take up nearly an entire city block:
I like the setback and large front yards on this next set of homes:
Check out the slender white glazed bricks on this one:
There is quite a bit of new construction just east of Grand and north of Chippewa. 
And some other infill of the tasteful variety sprinkled in with the old classics.
This is a rehabbers paradise with many properties in dire need of attention.
Does this qualify as a bad mansard?

I like this LRA property:
Glazed brick and other sights that caught my eye today:
 Good design?  Bad design?  Either way...I likes the AMC Pacer more now than ever:
"Wake up honey, Hoods has yellow paint on sale and I've got an idea...":
Old signs near and dear to my heart:
If you can't make it out, there is a Cheer Up soda plug under the Onion's Delicatessen advert:
St. Louis is THE BRICK CITY of the world and don't you ever forget it:
Even our streets are paved in fired clay:
Gravois Park takes it's name from the park near the heart of the neighborhood.  It's a charming little park that has the potential to be a Lafayette Park or Benton Park-like anchor to the neighborhood.  It's got a great gazebo and is lined with homes ranging from modest to higher end.

Neighborhood institutions include many churches, a couple schools and St. Alexius Hospital.  My favorite was Froebel School:
Gravois Park is brimming with potential and is a lively place to live with all the activity on Cherokee Street, Grand and other surrounding areas.  Go check it out!


  1. so much of the city i've never seen... it's amazing. thanks again, mr. groth!

  2. Talk about potential. This neighborhood has it more than just about any other on the south side. I love what's happening on Cherokee street and hope it extends to the rest of the neighborhood.

  3. The yellow building (O', my FSM!) is a former Turnverein Hall. The proof of it is on an engraved stone set into the wall right above the foundation on the S (Sud) side of the building. Yeah, Gravois Park (Uncle Wouie, as my wife and I refer to it, in homage to a Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd short) nabe has some great stock, but it's a little rough. I have passed by many of the buildings you pictured, and so many are in various stages of decay. Some more advanced than others as indicated by the collapsing back wall of one shot pictured. Still, there are indications of interest in the area. Though one wonders if there is enough. Living in Dutchtown, the condition of GP is important to me, as I worry if and how much of that decay will make it our way.

  4. I just was linked to this site, and it's awesome!

    You have a picture of my house in your photo set! It's always awesome to see the old gal in photographs-- she looks so good in them.
    (It's the one with the grey stone facade, the red car in front and the horizontal wood fence)

  5. The neighborhood looks great. I should definitely consider living in that place sometime.

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  6. Living in that place looks awesome. Thanks for the pictures.

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  7. I went to Froebel school from k-5 and some of the most influential women of my life taught me my first lessons there. I had to stay up all night looking through these photos. What great memories you have stirred up.

  8. Thanks for posting this! Back in the late 80s, my then-husband and I lived on Virginia, a block away from Gravois Park. The neighborhood was going down hill, so together with some neighbors, we formed the Gravois Park Neighborhood Association. (Prior to that, the neighborhood was considered part of Benton Park West.) We no longer live in the city, but it's cool to see the neighborhood name still in place!

  9. The first thing I consider when I rent an apartment is the neighborhood. I believe it's a safe place to stay and I'll probably consider it.

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  10. pappyleo78@aol.comDecember 2, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    This brought back so many happy memories! Dancing at the Turners Hall, and Cherokeee Street was a shoppers paradise at Christmas! I'm

  11. Just to give you guys a brief history about the neighborhood. The Gravois Park neighborhood is a diverse mix of homeowners, renters and businesses. The area's architecture reflects its settlement at the turn of the 20th century. The park itself dates from 1812 was praised for its beauty in the nineteenth century already.
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  12. Always been a fan of St Louis. especially Gravois Park because of the awesome people here and the sights.

  13. Hello there!

    I am doing a paper on the Cherokee Street history. I am trying to figure out why ther is such a strong Hispanic influence when there is only a 5% hispainc residence. If you have some insight or materail that you could suggest I would greatly appreicate it!

    1. When white flight occured surfing the crack epidemic of the late 80's and 90's Cherokee street died. Lots of store fronts were available for cheap and the Mexicans were the only ones brave enough to open shops there. Now all that is changed again, now the street is eager again and the hipsters are doing great.

  14. ^ghaukap: remember, Cherokee and Jefferson is a junction for 4 separate neighborhoods (Benton Park West, Gravois Park, Marine Villa and Dutchtown)...all Hispanic/Latino census data could be considered.

    updated census info here:

    Benton Park West 12% 464 H/L people
    Gravois Park 12% 421 H/L people
    Dutchtown 12% 1418 H/L people
    Marine Villa 9% 172 H/L people

    Also don't forget the Carondelet nabe which has a large H/L population right around St. Cecilia's parish...

  15. Hey, there's my house! Great article. Love the photos.

    I know the neighborhood seems rough to some folks, but it really is a diamond in the rough. We were hit really hard by the mortgage crisis when a lot of owner-occupiers were forclosed upon. It will take a while yet to get the those properties back up to the same level they were at when I moved in in 2005, but it has already started. We have a new owner-occupier on my block already, and I think more are to come shortly.

  16. I finally found my old neighborhood. It is this one. I lived at 3303A Chippewa, corner of Virginia. My grade school is pictured here. It is Froebel School. Glad I found this site.

  17. Not to be a downer, but I am not as optimistic as some people are about this neighborhood. I live in TGE and I follow the crime in the area pretty closely and compared to where I live and other parts around GP, there is more crime and drug activity in GP than other areas around there.

  18. Do you have photos of the Old Sip n Swirl that was next to Freobel School?

  19. Michelle, here's the old sip n swirl on Chippewa. It is now a soul food fish and chicken joint:,+St.+Louis,+MO&layer=c&z=17&iwloc=A&sll=38.587107,-90.233947&cbp=13,24.9,0,0,0&cbll=38.587009,-90.234005&hl=en&ved=0CAoQ2wU&sa=X&ei=6Z1AUe-KB6nqwAHh6IAI

  20. That building at California has been rehabbed:

  21. Beautiful pictures – really captures the spirit of the neighborhood as obviously intended. I am a huge fan of your work and find in inspiring to see others so passionate about this great city and it’s sights. Keep up the good work:)

  22. lived on Oregon in the early 70's. absolutely LOVE the photos. cant believe how many buildings and homes I remember. thank you for doing this.

  23. thank you for this! i came across this while doing a google search about the neighborhood. i looked this up because i bought a house in the neighborhood - it's the tudor style one, at california and potomac. four years on, and it's amazing to see how much has changed. if i had the time, i'd try to hunt them all down to do "after" photos.
    the buildings across the street and kitty corner are being rehabbed. that LRA property is nearby and has been beautifully rehabbed. globe drug is being rehabbed (although, sadly, they took the sign down!). the "sites along grand" are now the southside station apartments. the "bad mansard" will be renovated soon. and this is just what i know about!
    this neighborhood will be back to its former glory soon enough.