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Old 02-26-2014, 08:24 AM
 
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There are a lot of commercial buildings and landmarks in St. Louis that have a very obvious architectural style. But what about the homes of St. Louis? I've noticed that homes closer to downtown (in Soulard, Lafayette Square, ONSL) tend to be older and more late-1800s style, but as you go out further there are more and more turn of the century homes until you get to outer neighborhoods (IE Carondelet, Baden, Skinker-DeBaliviere) where homes seem to be of 1920s-1930s origin and are less commonly made of brick. How exactly would you pinpoint the architectural style of some of these homes? And what kind of residences are they (IE town homes, rowhouses, apartments, etc).

PS-I can't really give some examples off Google Maps right now-I am on my phone-but they can easily be found with a street view tour, and I can probably find some good examples when I get to a computer.
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:00 AM
 
Location: St. Louis
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It has to do with historic development patterns. The areas closer to downtown were developed first in the mid- to late-19th century and are almost exclusively brick. After the fire that destroyed most of the original city in the mid-1800s, the city passed a law requiring all buildings be built out of brick. By the time development pushed to the outer areas of the city, fire fighting methods must have improved to the extent that the city either stopped enforcing the brick law or it was repealed. In addition to the brick law, constructing buildings out of brick was just a lot easier in St. Louis because the soil here is clay rich and it was much cheaper to make bricks here than in other areas of the country.

Carondelet, however, is an anomaly. It's as old as St. Louis itself, but it wasn't annexed into the city until 1870, so you might see more wood frame houses in Carondelet than similarly-aged areas closer to downtown because the city's brick law didn't apply to it when it was originally developed.

As far as housing types go, that also has a lot to do with historic development patterns. I know Soulard and ONSL were originally working class neighborhoods during the industrial age, so it made sense for the slum lords to cram as many poor immigrants into tightly packed row houses as possible, and this also made it easier for them to walk to work at the nearby factories. I'm not sure about Lafayette Square though, since that was originally developed as a "suburb" for the city's elite. The housing density there might be more of a result of the need for walkability in the pre-automobile age rather than economics.
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Old 02-26-2014, 07:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Dawn10am View Post
It has to do with historic development patterns. The areas closer to downtown were developed first in the mid- to late-19th century and are almost exclusively brick. After the fire that destroyed most of the original city in the mid-1800s, the city passed a law requiring all buildings be built out of brick. By the time development pushed to the outer areas of the city, fire fighting methods must have improved to the extent that the city either stopped enforcing the brick law or it was repealed. In addition to the brick law, constructing buildings out of brick was just a lot easier in St. Louis because the soil here is clay rich and it was much cheaper to make bricks here than in other areas of the country.

Carondelet, however, is an anomaly. It's as old as St. Louis itself, but it wasn't annexed into the city until 1870, so you might see more wood frame houses in Carondelet than similarly-aged areas closer to downtown because the city's brick law didn't apply to it when it was originally developed.

As far as housing types go, that also has a lot to do with historic development patterns. I know Soulard and ONSL were originally working class neighborhoods during the industrial age, so it made sense for the slum lords to cram as many poor immigrants into tightly packed row houses as possible, and this also made it easier for them to walk to work at the nearby factories. I'm not sure about Lafayette Square though, since that was originally developed as a "suburb" for the city's elite. The housing density there might be more of a result of the need for walkability in the pre-automobile age rather than economics.
Yeah, I know the city had laws in place for most buildings to be brick, and it stuck after a while since brick was much cheaper here than other places. But that raises a question-where in the St. Louis area or in Missouri did the clay come from? And why aren't bricks used in the area for homebuilding like they used to be?

But what I want to know is, what kind of specific architectural style (IE Italianate, Second Empire, Beaux-Arts, Romanesque Revival, Colonial Revival, etc.) are these homes? I know that some are easy to identify (IE Lafayette Square homes are of the Second Empire style), but there are a lot that are difficult to pinpoint. If they don't have a specific style, how could they be described? Could it even be said that St. Louis has its very own architectural style?
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:39 PM
 
Location: St. Louis, MO
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St. Louis has always had an overabundance of Clay, natural to the area. Hence the fact that at the turn of the 20th century there were over 100 Brick plants here.
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:42 PM
 
Location: St. Louis, MO
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As for why Bricks are no longer commonly used (except in cases where houses have Brick Veneer) in construction, it's a matter of cost and time.

It's far quicker and cheaper for a house to be constructed using lumber. It also requires a different (and more common, thereby cheaper) level of construction expertise.

I've also heard that wood frame houses are easier and cheaper to insulate than brick houses due to the style and construction methods utilized.

What it all comes down to at the end of the day is $$$.
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Old 02-27-2014, 05:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by OuttaTheLouBurbs View Post
Yeah, I know the city had laws in place for most buildings to be brick, and it stuck after a while since brick was much cheaper here than other places. But that raises a question-where in the St. Louis area or in Missouri did the clay come from? And why aren't bricks used in the area for homebuilding like they used to be?

But what I want to know is, what kind of specific architectural style (IE Italianate, Second Empire, Beaux-Arts, Romanesque Revival, Colonial Revival, etc.) are these homes? I know that some are easy to identify (IE Lafayette Square homes are of the Second Empire style), but there are a lot that are difficult to pinpoint. If they don't have a specific style, how could they be described? Could it even be said that St. Louis has its very own architectural style?
There are specific styles in specific neighborhoods - but that is not a universal law, for instance in Lafayette Square the over riding style is Italianate, but there is also Federal, Romanesque, Queen Anne Victorian and its cousin Second Empire - as well as one or two modern buildings.

Not all buildings fit nicely in the classical (pre modern) orders, and a mish mash of styles is not unusual.

Most cities have a certain "look" of acceptable architectural cannon, Federal style row houses pop up in Pittsburgh, Cinci, Baltimore, and Boston but they look slightly different in each city depending on the traditions that the builders were educated in. In St. Louis there were a lot of German masons and you can see that in the slightly more decorative in terms of coursing and frieze work, high arch Palladian windows etc..., also St. Louis has some examples of "Fachwerk" timber framed infilled masonry in the German tradition - often mistakenly called "Tudor" which is an English style that involves stucco (you see that a lot in St. Louis Hills, Compton Heights, Fox Park and Holly Hills)

There are also timber framed areas - Clifton Heights has a lot of large wood framed houses (American 4 Squares and Craftsman style)

basically style is dependent on when it was built -

Federal style - pre 1870

Italianate - 1880's

Romanesque - 1890's-1910's

Those are the most popular during those periods, but that is not to say that other styles - Neo Classical, Gothic Revival, Queen Anne were being built at the same time

Building codes varied till the 1930's - when the was some national standardization in the form of BOCA and UBC - construction types were based (and still are) how close the buildings were together. if under 10' (like most housing was pre 1930) it was masonry to avoid fire storms - Still there are wood framed neighborhoods in Dogtown and The Hill that must have met other criteria because they are under 10'
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Old 02-27-2014, 05:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glamatomic View Post
As for why Bricks are no longer commonly used (except in cases where houses have Brick Veneer) in construction, it's a matter of cost and time.

It's far quicker and cheaper for a house to be constructed using lumber. It also requires a different (and more common, thereby cheaper) level of construction expertise.

I've also heard that wood frame houses are easier and cheaper to insulate than brick houses due to the style and construction methods utilized.

What it all comes down to at the end of the day is $$$.
Wood framing has been the national standard since the 70's and you are correct - load bearing masonry requires a min 4" fur out in order to accommodate insulation and electric
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Old 02-28-2014, 02:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Old Trafford View Post
Wood framing has been the national standard since the 70's and you are correct - load bearing masonry requires a min 4" fur out in order to accommodate insulation and electric
So which happened-did brick construction become more expensive, or did wood construction just become cheaper?

Another question-why is it that so many St. Louis home have no roof and are just flat-topped? There seem to be a lot of townhomes that either have no roof or a roof facade, but they are alltogether similar in that they are long, brick, and spaced closely together. Why's that?
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Old 02-28-2014, 09:59 PM
 
Location: St. Louis, MO
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A lot of it actually had to do with perception.

While stick built homes in some areas of the country were de rigueur during the Victorian period (areas in California such as San Francisco and some regions on the East Coast, even a lot of the construction over the river in Alton, IL) during the Victorian period, it wasn't fashionable or considered trustworthy in other parts of the country, or the world for that matter. (However, old stick built homes shouldn't be confused with the modern construction, frame built homes.)

There was the long standing idea that if a house was going to be built to last (ie: for the wealthy and upper classes) then brick was the way to go. I know that in areas of Australia, for instance, you could not even get a bank loan on a house that wasn't built of solid brick until the 1930s, even though the frame and veneer method had been around since the turn of the century (frame and veneer as opposed to a wood, stick built house or solid brick house). However, even through the 1930s, it was still solid brick that was the most trusted form of construction to the middle and upper classes in Australia and elsewhere.

During World War II, back in Australia and other parts of the world (including suburbs of St. Louis), housing estates had to go up as quickly and efficiently as possible to house workers at ammunition plants and locations centered around the war effort. While some areas saw en-masse prefabricated housing, which was meant to be temporary (such as in Oak Ridge, TN which was created solely for the Manhattan Project, where most of the houses are still standing and still occupied even though they were only given a 7 year lifespan to begin with), other areas saw the construction of frame houses.

These areas used frame as opposed to masonry because it was quicker and cheaper. Building via frame or wood for that matter had always been cheaper than brick, but now, time was of the essence and labor was in high demand. A stick / frame built house can be created in a fraction of the time, especially with the technology that was available by World War II (level mechanization at the lumber yards, etc etc).

After World War II, amongst the areas that had not been as accepting of non-brick homes, they started to become more 'socially acceptable' options, especially since frame houses were the new bastion of the shiny new suburbs that surrounded major cities throughout the U.S. and Western world. Following World War II, when the U.S. achieved a new level of prosperity, the American Dream of home ownership became the standard.

Projects such as Levittown throughout the East Coast brought a whole new norm to 'building the suburbs'. The low cost of labor associated with the frame-built (some of which were partially modular or had modular elements) houses, meant that labor costs were kept low, and the mass construction meant that the bulk materials could be obtained at a fraction of the price. The houses pretty much went up like an assembly line, and William Levitt's motto was "build 'em fast". Young families of the baby boom wanted new houses in the new, clean suburbs and they wanted them quickly. While brick veneer was sometimes used (as it is in my own house, built 1959), this was still a far cheaper and far quicker option than constructing a house of solid brick.

In the 1950s, we began to see the dawn of the "now!" mentality that is the norm today. People wanted their new houses now, they wanted their clothes washed automatically, their dishes washed automatically, and they wanted to drive their car from the convenience of their own garage, down the convenient new interstate right now and not wait for the bus or streetcar to get them from A-B.

Hence, the shift to frame housing. It was now an acceptable middle class alternative- it made home buying more affordable and available to the masses, and it was fast- meaning the biggest bang for the buck for the developer.

Hope that helps!!!



P.S. My family back in Australia were in the Timber industry. World War II and the 1950s were easily the best decades for them. During WWII their major contract was with the U.S. military to supply all of the lumber used at the military installations set up throughout Australia, as well as for the additional railway lines that were built during that period. Prosperity continued into the 1950s when wood frame built houses started popping up everywhere. Needless to say, they made a lot of money thanks to the shift in trends and their U.S. military contract.
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Old 03-11-2014, 11:22 PM
 
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Going back to this thread, has anyone else noticed that there are more homes missing in the inner city neighborhoods like St. Louis Place and McRee Town because these were working class areas (or so it appears, as they are close to factories and other industrial facilities)? Has anyone noticed how the homes in those areas-or what's left of them at least-are all supposed to be high-density row houses?
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