LaSalle Park is an integral part of the three-neighborhood "Old Frenchtown" area — LaSalle Park, Lafayette Square and Soulard — bordering the southern edge of downtown St. Louis. It was formed as a "new neighborhood," distinct from the larger Soulard district, through the efforts of Ralston Purina, which has its world headquarters in LaSalle Park, and The City of St. Louis.
LaSalle Park contains a mixture of Victorian and Federalist architecture. At least two of the homes in this French neighborhood were built at the time of the Civil War. New construction is also found in the neighborhood. The current urban renewal guidelines , approved by the City of St. Louis, require that all new construction be built in a style similar to and compatible with the existing architecture.
The LaSalle Park Neighborhood enjoys Federal Historic Status with homes that are considered to have neighborhood, city, state and national architectural significance. Plans were filed by Ralston Purina Co. and Landmarks Association of St. Louis, Inc. in 1977 (revised in 1979, 1980, 1982) to establish the historic importance of the neighborhood architecturally.
Many attractions and buildings of historic importance can be found in the LaSalle Park neighborhood.
Located just a foot-bridge away (over I-55) at Lafayette and Seventh Streets in the Soulard neighborhood, this is one of the oldest public markets still in existence in the United States. Wednesdays through Saturdays, local residents, immigrants and visitors regularly browse the stalls of local farmers for fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses, bakery goods and flowers. Generations of farmers have been selling at the market. Soulard
Billed as the "second largest" Mardi Gras celebration in the United States, the celebration in Soulard is only a couple blocks from anywhere in the LaSalle Park neighborhood. Unlike the New Orleans festival, the Soulard Mardi Gras is family-friendly, featuring a large Grand Parade and the always-popular Barkus Dog Parade. Mardi Gras Coverage and Official Site
A grand celebration of the German culture reflecting the influence of German immigrants in the area, the Soulard Octoberfest is three days of beer, bratwurst, and fine music. This is a festival for the whole family. In 2006, the record for the world's longest bratwurst was set at 86 feet and 55 pounds! Octoberfest coverage and Official Site
This historic LaSalle Park church was the first Czech Catholic church in America. In 2005 it was designated a chapel, meaning it serves the Czech community for special events, but does not have a parish.The Saint Louis Mother Church
The historic church building, with its Romanesque architecture, was designed by Meriwether Lewis Clark and completed in 1843 on the southwest corner of Ninth Street and Park Avenue adjacent to Highway 55. In addition to being a vibrant congregation and frequent wedding site; Saint Vincent's now provides assistance, education and food to the homeless in downtown Saint Louis area.Official Site
A fine Bed and Breakfast sequestered right in the middle of the neighborhood, within walking distance of the new St. Louis Cardinals Busch Stadium. Dwell 912 was voted Saint Louis's best Bed and Breakfast in 2006 by the readers of the Riverfront Times. An Urban Retreat
Nearby attraction also include the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, which conducts free daily tours (with samples!).
The Gateway Arch is a quick bike-ride away.
The Metrolink light-rail system has two stops (at Scottrade and at the new Busch Stadium) that are an easy walk, giving access to Forest Park, Saint Louis Zoo, Union Station, Laclede's Landing, and the airport.
Architecturally interesting homes abound in the neighborhood. Two houses built in the 1860s in the 900 block of Morrison are the first documented use of decorative steel lintels west of the Mississippi.
The LaSalle Park neighbor hood was "cut-off" from the rest of Soulard when Interstates 55 and 44 were built through the neighborhood. The area fell into decline even while Soulard was maintained. In March 1969, 137 acres were declared blighted and the Saint Louis Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority applied for a federal planning grant to rehabilitate the neighborhood.
Federal funds were approved for redeveloping LaSalle Park in 1971. Brick sidewalks, extensive landscaping and street lamps designed to mirror those that were in the neighborhood many years ago were installed.
Property throughout the neighborhood was sold in early 1976 to both individuals and developers who were willing to restore homes and businesses or to build "in-fill" houses. These structures are so named because they are designed and built to match or resemble the surrounding architecture. Through the efforts of Ralston Purina and the City of St. Louis, an Urban Renewal Plan and Guidelines for upholding the integrity of the neighborhood's properties was established.
The neighborhood continues to operate and maintain its distinctive architectural design and character through a revision of this urban plan. In 2006, all new street lamps were installed and sidewalk repairs undertaken, keeping the neighborhood a wonderful place to live.
For More Information
One of the best documentations of the history of the neighborhood entitled "Frenchtown" by John Rodabough was published in 1980 by Sunrise Publishing Company in St. Louis. Although this book is now out of print, copies are available in the St. Louis Public Library.