Monroe Tree House

Monroe Treehouse


Some places have surprises or they just are not what they seem. From the front, it’s another boarded up house and looks to be in fairly decent shape. Then you walk around to the back and your perception changes. It is another boarded up house and it’s another house that has a giant chunk taken out of the back. I imagine it’s probably due to brick thieves.

Also it isn’t uncommon to find trees and other plant-life growing in and on vacant buildings. This tree doesn’t look to be rooted in the house but it is growing into the house. I can’t really see everything happening with this in that there are some giant plywood boards creating a fence around the exposed rear. Probably to keep people out for both the safety of the people and of the building.

This house is estimated to built around 1907. As with a lot of houses in St. Louis, I assume many to be older than I find out they are. It very well could be older. The front is red brick with a mansard type roof which would make me think that it is older, like 1870s-1890s. It’s a pretty modest house with simple dentils and the original shingles (probably slate) are gone and are replaces with brown shingles you’d find on recent new houses. The front door(s) are ground level and are right on the sidewalk. No front yard. It looks like there may have been 2 front doors. One going to a ground level flat and the other to a second floor flat. One door as a couple white stone steps that sit atop a worn, weed strewn sidewalk – or what is left of a sidewalk.

This portion of Monroe St, near N 14th Street is mostly vacant lots but are typically cut and maintained. Across the street from this house is a collapsed ruin of a multi-family house that was probably built around the same time. There is also a small one-story shotgun type house next door to this one with a worn asphalt shingle facade that covers the brick. The windows have white awnings. It looks worn but seems tended to. Further west on the same block near Blair, the houses on the corner have been rehabbed and look very nice.

I did this drawing sometime in October of 2014. Probably late in the month. It was colorful. It’s a comfortable time in that it isn’t too cold yet. The leaves haven’t all left the trees – some are hanging on. I remember there was a concrete pad in the back near the alley. That is where I set up to start the drawing. It was well shaded and I’m pretty sure it was in the evening when I did this. There were some people around. I think there was an event at a nearby building that is on the corner of North Market and 14th. Mainly kids. I did encounter one guy walking down the alley and he took a peek at my drawing but really not much conversation. Just some friendly words.

I didn’t do many outdoor drawings after this one. Once November comes around, the daylight hours are shorter and the temperatures start to take a nosedive. It becomes really difficult to get out and most of my drawings are made and finished on my kitchen tables. It isn’t like I stop going out. I don’t. I take pictures and work from the photos and sometimes it just seems easier to do so.

1409 Monroe - October

1409 Monroe – October

Double Exposure- Diana F+

Double Exposure- Diana F+

Front of 1409 Monroe from 14th St.

Front of 1409 Monroe from 14th St.

Blair Shack

Blair Shack


The little one is pretty underwhelming when compared to all the old Victorian era brick houses that are all around Old North St. Louis. This one is a little wood frame one story shotgun style of house. Right next to it is a tall 2 bay wide, brick 3-story mansard roof fronted house that was built in 1886 (est). The same website I am getting dates from (click here) states this was build the same year, 1886. For some reason I have doubts. I could be wrong. I do know that it is owned by Blairmont Association Ltd. This is essentially a rotting property Paul McKee owns….and seems to intend for it to rot. There is also a cool little house on the corner of Palm and Blair (1501 Palm), built in 1885 (est), that seems to be just getting in worse and worse shape every time I see it. It’s a two-story 3 bay wide brick house with a mansard roof. Last time I saw it the mansard roof had completely collapsed and there is a pile of roof and slate shingles nearly all over the sidewalk. The rear of the house is almost gone and the inside is completely exposed to the elements. I’m not sure how long that one will survive. You can look at older pictures of the house on Built St. louis.

Across the street is pretty much all vacant lots close to Strodtman Park. I know I drew this in the summer of 2014 and sat near the sidewalk in one of those lots. It was littered with discarded tires. Unbeknownst to me at the time, there was standing water in those tires and midway through drawing I was being attacked by mosquitos. However, once I start the drawing I don’t stop until I have the general sketch drawn out and proportions worked out at least. I can get the details and values and such worked out at home. I always take a photo from exactly where I sit or stand. Anyway, I left with a drawing and legs covered in mosquito bites that night. I also remember just series of cars stopping in front of a house just to the north and waiting for someone to come out to the car. Someone would come out to the car. Then the car would leave. This happened several times and all different vehicles. That doesn’t seem normal to me. It makes me think something illegal is going on. I’ve never seen really disturbing things but a few things that seem suspicious and weird. However, no one has ever scared me or been unfriendly. Anyone I have talked to on the street have been very friendly and inquisitive.

Anyway, what is this little wood frame “shack” doing here? Is it possible that actually another brick house similar to the one next door stood here and it was demolished and this wood frame house with brick veneer slapped on was built on the same foundation in it’s place? I just don’t buy that it was built in the 1880s considering almost everything from that era is brick.

3211 and 3215 Blair

3211 and 3215 Blair

Corner of Blair and Palm

Corner of Blair and Palm.

Palm St 1983

Palm St 1983. Photo by Jane M. Porter.

Under the Elevated

2307 North 9th Street – Modern Screw Products

Modern Screw Products

This graphite drawing was done on June 28th, 2014. I specifically remember it is in the evening and it was quite sunny and hot – like a typical St. Louis summer day. The area was pretty quiet and the only people I saw were a couple cyclists that were probably doing the Riverfront Trail. Also a man passed on foot and looked at my drawing and then proceeded to ask for money. Whenever I go out and do my drawings I don’t carry cash (I rarely carry cash in general) so I had to decline his request. He went on his way.

Anyway I chose this building due to it’s proximity to the elevated railroad tracks which was part of the old Illinois Terminal Railroad. I love the metal scaffolding and also thought it would add depth and would form sort of a frame that would create a focal point that is the building. The elevated rail tracks are not in use anymore and I think is part of Great Rivers Greenway Trestle Project. The idea is to create an elevated bike/walking path that would connect to the Riverfront trail and go across I-70 and at Howard and Hadley in the southern edge of the Old North St. Louis neighborhood. It doesn’t seem much has been done recently – still in planning stage.

As for the building itself, the building is home to Modern Screw Products and from what I know is still in business – you can visit their website here. There is a little bit of history on the website. The company was founded in 1923 and at that time served the mining, railroad and military industries. This would have been a great location due to its proximity to railroads and the river. Today they are a machine show that serves the food industry, refrigeration, sporting goods, and medical industries.

I couldn’t find a date for it being built on the city’s website but on a real estate website it said it was built in 1916. At that time this building would have been part of Old North St. Louis neighborhood but after I-70 was constructed this area became disconnected with the rest of the old neighborhood. Now it’s an area that is commonly referred to as Near North Riverfront. It’s mostly an industrial area with a few homes – mainly abandoned – scattered mostly on the western edge close to the highway.

Just north of this building is North Market Street. This was the widest thoroughfare through the Old North St Louis neighborhood that started at the river and went into the heart of the neighborhood. Goods were routinely carried from the river via horse-drawn carriages, fishermen would travel to the river to fish. It was what connected the community to the river. Today it doesn’t seem as connected due to the Interstate slicing through the community. There is still industry here but it isn’t a bustling area with lots of pedestrians and traffic like I imagine it was up until the 1950s when the area was connected to the diverse and dense population of Old North St. Louis.

2307 N 9th Street

2307 N 9th Street

Before The Collapse

1112 Montgomery Street

Montgomery Street house

This is a home I drew on July 19th of 2014. On the east side of the home is a vacant lot with a few trees scattered about. Behind this house is Warren Street. Warren Street is a curved street that is part of three circular lots that are unique to the neighborhood. These were part of the city’s plans when the city was founded (Old North St Louis was not part of St. Louis proper in it’s early days – it was later annexed by the city of St Louis). One circle was for school, one for the public, and the other for church. Warren Street forms the northern edge of the Church part. Just to the east is 11th Street and then I-70.

I imagine there were homes very similar to this one in the vacant lot in which I was sitting. From what I know this was a very dense area with a large immigrant population. My guess was that it was built maybe in the 1970s but I looked up the address on the city’s website and it was actually built in 1892 and it has an owner. Not sure what the owner is doing with it though.

Since it was built in 1892 that would put it in the Victorian Era but I don’t think it has a typical look of a Victorian home. It seems to have some wood moulding on the archways and in the entry. Also it looks like it had a decorative wood cornice. However it doesn’t have that Second Empire look or Queen Anne or Richardson Romanesque style. I’m guessing maybe is some sort of mix – Eclectic Style that used earlier vernacular styles with some of the decorative elements that would be found of Second Empire or Italianate styles. To me it’s roof looks to fit more of a Federalist style (some next to it have dormers).

So here is my “wild” theory. Many of the older homes in the area probably had a Federalist style and when it was built it needed to fit in the neighborhood but it had to be appealing to its era. Also it would be a bit more modest than typical Victorian Era styles in that this is a multi-family home so I would suspect those living here wouldn’t be wealthy. I am curious to know if the rear portion was part of the home of if those were actually another living space.

1112 Montgomery Rear

1112 Montgomery Rear

1112 Montgomery Front

1112 Montgomery Front