The Shaw neighborhood as it is known today, originated as the Prairie des Noyers, named for the Joseph Marcheteau Denoyer family, who were one of the “1st 30” families to settle the area with Auguste Chouteau in 1769. The Prairie des Noyers common field was composed of a series of land strips land running westward from what later became Grand Boulevard to Kingshighway.
Large sections in the present Shaw area were acquired by Major William Christy, who sold them in 1816 to William Chambers. About 1860, these tracts were willed to Chambers’ daughter, Mary Lawrence Tyler, who allowed Henry Shaw to purchase the northern strip of Flora Avenue to provide access to his country home and developing gardens.
Henry Shaw envisioned Flora Avenue with its prominent eastern gateway, designed in the late 1890’s, as a fitting approach west from Grand Avenue to the entrance of his Missouri Botanical Garden. After the gardens were damaged by a tornado in 1896, the Missouri Botanical Garden board of trustees asked the City of St. Louis to open Flora Avenue for development to help finance the repairs and re-plantings. Subsequently, Flora became a private street in 1897, with improvements such as paving, curbs, sewers, trees, and shrubbery, at a cost of $100,000.
The boulevard we now know as Flora Place, was platted in 1901 and within a few years was lined with fine houses. The entrance gates to the 1897 Flora Place were built at a cost of $9,500 – $5,500 – more than the first home’s sale price. The real catalyst for development of the area came with the opening of the Grand Avenue Viaduct in 1889 and subsequent extension of the streetcar lines.
In the last few decades, Shaw has seen a powerful renovation renaissance and today this unique neighborhood is proud to offer a variety of historic housing opportunities, including single family homes, condos, multifamily dwellings and apartments, built between 1880 and 1940.
Shaw remains one of the oldest and most intact neighborhoods in St. Louis City. In 1984, the neighborhood was designated as a historic district to protect its valuable cultural identity and historic building stock. The architectural standards set forth in the ordinance protect the local buildings from inappropriate and value-reducing alterations. More importantly, the historic district designation makes Historic Preservation Tax Credits available on owner-occupied and investment properties. These valuable financial incentives have helped fuel the most recent explosion of renovation activity in the Shaw neighborhood.
For information about the Shaw Neighborhood Historic District visit http://stlouis.missouri.org/citygov/planning/heritage/standards/shaw.html
For information on obtaining and using Historic Preservation Tax Credits visit http://www.dnr.mo.gov/shpo/taxcrdts.htm
History Courtesy of the Shaw Neighborhood Improvement Association; Missouri Historical Society Bulletin vol. XV, p 314-315; and Where We Live: A Guide to St. Louis Communities. Missouri Historical Society Press. 1995.
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