Cheltenham is a neighborhood in St. Louis City. It is defined by Oakland Avenue to the north and Manchester Avenue to the south. Macklind Avenue forms its eastern edge and Hampton Avenue, the western edge.
The history of Cheltenham goes back to 1798. The area then was known to run from what we now call Kingshighway on the east and went as far as the City limits on the west end. At that time River de Peres was a clear crystal stream and it made a good area for settlements. In the 1830s the Sulphur Springs resort was established and the neighborhood was named after the manager’s birthplace. But in the latter half of the century this meaning was lost, as Cheltenham became synonymous with firebrick.
Immigrants were drawn to the area because they needed work. The factories sprung up with the mining of clay. The earliest and largest of the enterprises was the Laclede Fire Brick Company, which began in 1844, but expanded rapidly with the coming of the railroad. Irish, Italian, German, and Polish immigrants came to wok in the factories. In 1861 the Catholic Diocese established a mission which grew into St. James the Greater Parish. On December 9, 1852 the Pacific Railroad celebrated the completion of a five-mile railroad from St. Louis to Cheltenham. The Cheltenham Station was confined to passengers only, while other stations handled freight. The Cheltenham public school opened in 1868. Cheltenham became a part of St. Louis in 1876, but retained its name. By World War II, most of the mines had shut down and the brick yards had closed. Subdivisions were built over the mines and pits.
The community was a center of education long before the Forest Park campus of the St. Louis Community College opened. Near the site of the old Arena was the campus of the Forest Park University from 1891 to 1927. It was founded in 1861 as the Kirkwood Seminary by Anna Sneed Cairns and was the first university in the United States to be chartered solely for women.
The Cheltenham Neighborhood Organization has been active since the mid 1980s. In the eighties, the neighborhood protested proposals to blight the area and more recently raised their concerns over the demolition of the St. Louis Arena. The residents consider their neighborhood an educational center and preferred that the St. Louis landmark be renovated for purposes of a museum or aquarium.