by Michael R. Allen
While photographing a building across the street for work, I stumbled across this Craftsman gem on Ridge Avenue (just west of Hamilton Avenue) in Wells-Goodfellow. The size of the brackets on the porch end of the roof is incredible. Brackets, half-timbering and wide gable roofs were hallmarks of the Craftsman style, which was part of the revival style craze that dominated American residential architecture between 1890 and 1930. The Craftsman style drew upon the Arts & Crafts movement as well as historic rural European vernacular styles. St. Louis has great examples in north and south city, especially west of O’Fallon Park and in Tower Grove South.
Coincidentally, this home is only a few blocks from one of the city’s most prominent Craftsman landmarks, the Wellston Station at 6111 Martin Luther King Drive.
I don’t know much about the house on Ridge, but I co-wrote the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Wellston Station. The Station was built in 1911 and designed by Martin Arhelger for the St. Louis Transit Company, the streetcar arm of United Railways. United Railways held the monopoly on mass transit in the city until 1963 when it was subsumed into the Bi-State Development Agency.
Under its wide roof, the Wellston Station provided covered boarding, and a shelter with waiting rooms and toilets, for the first fixed-track streetcars on Easton Avenue (now MLK). Wellston Station was the destination for the last streetcar run in the city’s history: the run of the Hodiamont street car in 1966. For years after that, the building served as a bus shelter, but the grandeur was out of scale with cash-strapped Bi-State. Bi-State aimed to convert the building to a farmers’ market, but in 2006 abruptly turned it over to the Land Reutilization Authority. In May 2007, the National Park Service placed the Wellston Station on the National Register. That designation has not yet led to redevelopment, although a burger joint still rents the front end of the waiting room area. (The waiting room has always had a storefront at the street side.)
Two Craftsman gabled buildings in Wells-Goodfellow — one a domestic building, the other a remnant of a once-robust public sector economy. May they both be part of the city’s future.