Located at the intersection of Interstates 64 and 170 in the heart of the St. Louis metro area, Richmond Heights successfully melds “Progress with Tradition.” The latter component includes a diverse population of nearly 10,000 people from all walks of life; a wide array of well-maintained and attractive homes in established, desirable neighborhoods; quality public and private schools, and high-quality city services.
Maplewood was established around the turn of the 20th century. Maplewood was one of the early suburbs of St. Louis. Located just outside the city limits, Maplewood was located at the end of one of St. Louis’ streetcar lines and was also located near major railroads.
It was built as a bedroom community. Advertising suggested that people should get away from the city (in an era of common and sooty commercial, industrial, and domestic coal burning) and enjoy the fresh air of less densely populated areas like Maplewood. Maplewood’s historic residential areas were mostly built from 1900–1910 and a number of well-preserved homes remain. Several of these homes have remained in the same family for generations.
James Sutton, wanting to pursue real estate, purchased 334 acres from the Gratiot heirs (1826). The land was in the southwestern part of the league square originally purchased by Gratiot and was purchased for a dollar and a bit ($1.125) per acre (A bit was a half of a quarter of a Spanish silver dollar that had been cut into small change with a cold chisel). Sutton added 51 acres to this purchase in 1848 paying $7.50 per acre.
Sutton constructed a log cabin and moved on to his land, living first near the present Commonwealth Avenue. Then the “Road to Jefferson City by way of Manchester” was opened through the northern part of Sutton’s land and he decided to build a home and a storehouse on a high point on the north side of the road near his western line (7453 Manchester). A blacksmith shop was built across the road and soon we read that a road was opened “from Sutton’s blacksmith shop to the big bend of the Meramec.” This of course is our Big Bend Boulevard which is thus shown to have derived its name not from any big bend in the road but from the big bend in the river (Meramec) to which it led.
Churches were organized and stores and banks as well as library and a city hall appeared on Manchester Avenue. In fact, so many business men came to Maplewood that they could organize a Business and Civic Club which is still prospering. This club became famous for its annual baseball game between the “hefty” businessmen and the “slim” businessmen.
The organization was the Fats and Leans. A fire in January 1908 at the Banner Lumber Company resulted in nine buildings being destroyed. The citizens of Maplewood felt that the St. Louis City Fire Companies could not provide sufficient fire protection so the community decided to incorporate, doing so in May 1908, primarily to provide fire protection and schools.
Maplewood is currently being revitalized by an influx of restaurants, businesses, and shops around Manchester Ave., Sutton Ave., and the Greenwood Historic District. Maplewood is known for it’s restaurant scene. A few of the JRCG’s favorites are listed below!
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