Retaining Walls and the Shaw Historic District

Residents often inquire about the use of retaining walls in the front yard of homes in the Shaw Historic District. If you drive around Shaw, you’ll certainly see a wide range of old and new retaining walls throughout the neighborhood. While some historic districts allow for retaining walls in the front yard, Shaw does not.

Jan Cameron, from St. Louis City Cultural Resources Office, states, “The reason retaining walls are so closely regulated by the standards is that the open terraces of the blocks in Shaw are significant character-defining elements of the historic district.” Further, She goes on to say,” The existing retaining walls in front of the building line in the district either predate the historic district or were done without approval. Unless they are recent, and we are able to cite the property owners, the walls are considered grandfathered until the owner needs or elects to change them.”

Remember if you have a question regarding any exterior home improvement (tuck pointing, new windows, front porches, etc), please contact Cultural Resources before you begin any work at (314) 657-3865 or

You can download the Shaw Historic District Standards for New Construction and Rehabilitation by scrolling to the bottom of our home page at


About Shaw Neighborhood Housing Corporation

Shaw Neighborhood Housing Corporation is a not-for-profit organization that promotes responsible development, affordable housing and diverse character and vibrancy in the Shaw neighborhood located in St. Louis, MO. Through its local development and community progress expertise, the organization serves as a resource to developers, real estate agents, neighborhood residents and business owners.
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