by Michael R. Allen
This modest flat-roofed, one-story brick house at 3137 Whittier Street in The Ville is where rock ‘n’ roll was invented. Well, if not outright invented, definitely made into something it had never been before. Chuck Berry bought this house in 1950 and lived there during his most productive early songwriting period. When he sold the house in 1958, Berry had recorded “Maybelline,” “Johnny B. Goode” and “Roll Over Beethoven.”
My colleague Lindsey Derrington, Researcher for Landmarks Association, identified this house last year as a landmark worthy of listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Rather than wait for someone else to take action, Lindsey wrote a nomination that received approval from the city’s Preservation Board last week and will be considered by the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation this Friday. After that point, the nomination is likely to face a tough time undergoing review by the National Park Service, which generally does not list in the Register properties associated with persons still living. This rule comes from fear of making hasty historical judgment. Lindsey’s nomination makes the case that Chuck Berry’s importance already has a permanent spot in the history books, even if he is alive and very well.
Today, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch covered the nomination of the house with a front page article; read that here.