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Fire Hyde Park North St. Louis

One of Hyde Park’s Oldest Houses Damaged by Fire

by Michael R. Allen

The fire-damaged Kettman House on November 17, 2005.

An early-morning fire struck the house at 1522-24 Mallinckrodt on a cold day in October.  One of the earliest houses in Hyde Park, the building at 1522-24 Mallinckrodt was originally built by brickyard hand Bernard Kettman in the 1850s. Kettman, who was born in Hanover, Germany, leased the lot from Ann C.T. Farrar until he was able to buy it outright in 1863 for $1,440.00. In the meantime, he built the house and occupied it with three other German families whose fathers worked in the brickyards. Kettman later built a nearly-identical building at 1520 Mallinckrodt, which still stands.

The Kettman House in 1981 (far right). Photograph by Mary M. Stiritz for Landmarks Association of St. Louis

The simple building in the Federal style, was initially two rooms deep with four apartments and an attic. Access to the lower apartments was from the street while access to the upper apartments was through rear stairs and gallery porches. Later alterations have reconfigured the building into two adjacent two-story dwellings, which now have separate owners.


Rear of the Kettman House on November 17, 2005. Note that the gallery porch plan still exists in modified form (exterior stairs are missing).

At present, both sides are rental units. I had attempted to purchase the house at 1518 Mallinckrodt Street and had spent some time getting familiar with the block. When I asked an occupant of 1524 Mallinckrodt if she owned her home, she replied emphatically that “I don’t own that rat hole.” Thinking that I was an investor and not a prospective owner-occupant, she wanted to rent 1518 Mallinckrodt from me. While her comments may be an exaggeration, they indicate some level of neglect of this building in recent years. The fire damage has rendered both units unlivable, but neither owner has taken the time to board the building. The next buildings to the west are an abandoned bungalow and alley house both owned by the LRA. Across the street are two large abandoned four-flats with substantial decay, one owned by the city and another owned privately. The decay seems to have taken root here, and the fire is almost expected. I regret that I was not able to take the risk to put down roots of another kind on the block.

Source

Stiritz, Mary M. and Jane Porter. Hyde Park District City Landmark Certification. Landmarks Association of St. Louis, 1981.

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