Painting historic homes in Greater St. Louis
Having made our home in St. Louis for a couple of months now, I continue to find new and fascinating house portrait subjects. Therefore I decided to update my initial blog post to reflect my growing collection of portraits and the architectural diversity they represent. There is certainly no shortage of architectural charm and character in this grand old city. And while it’s a really good thing I like brick — because historic St Louis is all about brick — I especially took the time to select some non-brick or at least painted brick homes.
One I found in Clayton is a beautiful Spanish style house and another is one of the oldest Colonial homes in this city. Another Clayton treasure I discovered (from the homeowner who now have the painting hanging in her home) is a former home of Tennessee Williams when he attended the University of Missouri while in his teens. I found an elegant white colonial home in St. Louis area proper, painted my first portraits in University City and also added Lafayette Square — the oldest neighborhood in the city — to my collection. A lovely home in Chesterfield, which I happened to see in the fall as I was passing through the area, is also part of the mix.
So please enjoy my mini exhibit of this selection of house portraits in the greater St. Louis area. Once I have further added to my collection I plan to have an exhibition and I will be sure to invite you!
For anyone who has wondered why there is such a predominance of red brick in St. Louis, I did a little historical research. First and foremost was the ready availability: St. Louis was underlain by dozens of large clay deposits. As a result several St. Louis neighborhoods such as Dogtown and the Hill were shaped by immigrant groups who moved there to work the clay mines.
By 1839, the brickyards of St. Louis were turning out more than 20 million bricks a year.
In the 19th century wood frame buildings were common and certainly local builders would have wanted to cut costs and avoid masonry construction in a working class area. An event occurred however which steered the city toward a even greater use of brick.
In 1849, the steamboat White Cloud caught fire and drifted onto the riverfront wharves. A third of the city was destroyed in the subsequent blaze and a hurriedly-passed local ordinance forbade the construction of wooden buildings.
Until my next St Louis update!