“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
St. Louis, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Lafayette Square

Fountain Park Plaza

Lafayette Square Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, September 18, 2019
1. Lafayette Square Marker
Inscription.  Fountain Park Plaza, which now graces Park Avenue, was a few years ago on urban blight. The large brick structure just south of the Plaza operated from the 1890s through the 1990s as a factory producing various industrial products. The last tenant, "Western Wire," manufactured chain link wire fence. 1804 Park Avenue, where this sign is located, was used by Prott Brothers, a commercial stripping company.

Prior to the early 1970s, the entire Lafayette Park neighborhood survived in an abandoned and deteriorated state. Just south of the park, many more grand structures fell to the mass destruction for the construction of Interstate 44.

In the late 1960s the first young "urban pioneers" began purchasing homes. The young enthusiasts organized to create the Lafayette Square Restoration Committee.

Their united lobbying efforts were successful in convincing the City of St. Louis to recognize the historic and architectural uniqueness of Lafayette Square. In 1972 Lafayette Square was the city's first historic district. In 1973 Lafayette Square was honored with placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

Lafayette Square Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, September 18, 2019
2. Lafayette Square Marker
Located not far from the fountain in Fountain Park Plaza
Click or scan to see
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few long-term residents refused to abandon Lafayette Square at the depths of its depression. Those 100 plus "Urban Pioneer" families by 1974 had ventured a stake in Lafayette Square. Their perseverance was a refusal to accept failure, and indeed, a "new community" rose through the process.

Photo caption:
The former 1804 Park Avenue buildings

"The restoration of Lafayette Square will demonstrate that central-city blight can be reversed, and through proper planning many urban neighborhoods can once again become attractive and vital."

Stephen J. Raiche, 1974 Research Historian for Missouri State Historical Survey
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Notable Places.
Location. 38° 37.002′ N, 90° 12.7′ W. Marker is in St. Louis, Missouri. Marker can be reached from Park Avenue. It is located at Fountain Park Plaza, in front of Sqwires Restaurant. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1804 Park Avenue, Saint Louis MO 63104, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Welcome to Lafayette Square! (within shouting distance of this marker); These Guns are from the British Man Of War (approx. ¼ mile away); Senator Thomas Hart Benton, 1782-1858 (approx. ¼ mile away); 1876 Lafayette Park Music Pavilion
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(approx. ¼ mile away); Lafayette Park and Square (approx. 0.3 miles away); St. John Nepomuk Chapel (approx. half a mile away); Soulard Station (approx. half a mile away); The Slezak House (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Louis.
More about this marker. It is not known when this marker was placed, or the organization behind it.
Regarding Lafayette Square. Lafayette Square is a historic Victorian neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri. It is one of St. Louis' oldest, dating back to the city's founding in 1764. The land that Lafayette Square sits on was once an area with a pasture for raising livestock, while not being considered privately owned land. By 1835, the pasture was purchased by the City of St. Louis and became a residential area with a park. It would be named after Revolutionary War hero Marquis de La Fayette, who visited St. Louis as part of his 1824-25 tour of the United States. Lafayette Park is the oldest park in the city of St. Louis, dating back to 1836. Many homes and mansions were built in Lafayette Square from 1835 to the late 1850s. The neighborhood would become home to many prominent St. Louis citizens, including several businessmen, politicians, a Supreme Court justice and the President of the American
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Bar Association.

As mentioned on the marker, a tornado ripped through the area in 1896. This was the first of the neighborhood's many setbacks. By the 1910s, Lafayette Square would be restored to its old glory. But in 1923, the Missouri Supreme Court declared the 1918 residential zoning ordinance unconstitutional, and businesses began purchasing lots in the area. Many families fled the neighborhood. The big homes would be converted into rooming houses during the Great Depression.

The "urban pioneers", as mentioned on the marker, not only revitalized Lafayette Square, but they also helped prevent an interstate/freeway from being paved. During the 1970s, a four mile freeway (Interstate 755) was to connect to the interchange of Interstates 44 and 55 to the northern part of St. Louis at Interstate 70. This was to help motorists bypass around the downtown part of St. Louis, especially around busy times. But it was local opposition that helped halt, and eventually end the project, in 1979. Many homes in Lafayette Square were faced with the possibility of demolition to make way for I-755.
Also see . . .  Lafayette Square. Official website to the Lafayette Square Neighborhood and Business Associations, as well as the Restoration Committee. (Submitted on September 20, 2019, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 17, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 20, 2019, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 184 times since then and 31 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 20, 2019, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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May. 23, 2022