TOURIST TREKKING IN YESTERYEAR!
Last week I took a tourist trek through one of the oldest residential areas in the city of Saint Louis. Back in the early 19th century the area directly south of central city was known as Frenchtown — mainly because most of the land was covered with farms owned by French landowners. One of the major landowners was Antoine Soulard, surveyor general of Upper Louisiana for the Spanish governor of the territory during the 36 years the territory was owned by Spain. He received a large grant of land in payment for his work as surveyor. This was the land that eventually became known as the Soulard Neighborhood of Saint Louis. And this is where I went trekking.
Soulard is a registered historic district of Saint Louis, and as such the historic buildings there are under a strict code regarding restoration and/or modification. In other words, walking down the streets of Soulard is like walking down the streets of a mid-19th century city. Especially when it comes to walking down the red brick sidewalks.
Prior to the Civil War a lot of German people began immigrating to the United States and Saint Louis in particular. (This included my German ancestors.) And the landowners in Soulard realized they could make a tidy profit by building houses for the newcomers which would also supply workers for the nearby fields, factories and breweries. And that is where the row houses entered the picture.
The row houses were designed to utilize every possible square inch of available land. They were built right up to the side walk and designed so that another house could be built right next to them it make a row of houses sometimes running for an entire block.
The German immigrants also brought their churches, like Sts. Peter and Paul Church which dates back to 1840. This current German Gothic building was built in 1874.
Down the block is Trinity Lutheran Church. The original wooden church was built closer to the river in 1838 and was the oldest Lutheran congregation west of the Mississippi. The current building was built in the 1870s.
Coming up the Trek continues with a tour of the Soulard Farmers Market that dates back to the late 1700s.