Photo Flood 38: North Hampton

northhampton001

photograph by Ann Aurbach

North Hampton is a neighborhood most often driven around by St. Louisans. This is not to say that you shouldn’t want to go there, but rather, that three of its four borders are major thoroughfares for South City. Wedged neatly between Lindenwood Park and Tower Grove South, North Hampton is a pleasant residential neighborhood with an excellent collection of mid-century bungalows.

northhampton014

photograph by Dan Henrichs Photography, St. Louis

northhampton020

photograph by Jason Gray

northhampton006

photograph by Michelle Williams

northhampton009

photograph by Susan Price

northhampton005

photograph by Michelle Williams

Although most St. Louisans may be most familiar with the neighborhood from driving around it, to write North Hampton off as merely a sleepy enclave would be a mistake. Maybe it is the fact that the area is primarily residential with not many intraneighborhood businesses, or that it rests in the shadow of hip Tower Grove South, or that it is essentially a buffer zone between an older, German, Catholic South City and the newer, proto-suburban St. Louis Hills, but North Hampton has a distinctive oddness (for lack of a better term) possessed of something not found in other areas of the city. Take for instance, the gnome cottage pictured above, or an entire street with each house hoisting an identically sized American flag, or even the fact that two neighborhood youth organizations, the YMCA and Gateway Soccer Association, rub up against the St. Louis Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center (not to mention the Missouri Crematorium!). One thing is for certain, this neighborhood is idiosyncratic.

northhampton017

photograph by Jason Gray

As testament to this, another member and I had the good fortune to run into the family pictured above. While photographing the house next door, the gentleman inquired as to why we were photographing homes in his neighborhood. This is a natural skepticism that we often encounter on residential streets because it is not always a positive thing to have the place where you live photographed by a stranger. After I explained the premise of our organization, the man stated that he wished to take our picture with my camera. With some trepidation, I agreed. I showed him where the shutter button was and he snapped a few shots of us on the path to his front porch. Whatever concerns the homeowner had about our motives melted away after this interaction. The man then offered some information on his house and those of the neighborhood. He said that all of the houses immediately around were (paraphrasing), “built by Sears for the military.” He offered to have us come inside his home to see a plaque noting its origins.

In fact, the home was not built by Sears, but by Gunnison, another pre-fabrication home builder that became prominent slightly after Sears’ pre-fab homes experienced their own peak in popularity. Like the Sears homes, Gunnisons were usually built in areas nearby industrial plants (like the ones that dot the north side of North Hampton, just a few blocks away). While I could not find any historical reference to the neighborhood having a military origin, Gunnison homes were popular among soldiers returning from World War II, which is likely the true connection, especially since many former soldiers took factory jobs once back in the US.

There is more to our colorful interaction, which I’ll keep off the record, except to say that the man and his warm and kind family are an excellent example of the folks you should expect to encounter in North Hampton- protective of their streets, yet still inviting to strangers, interested in the history of their neighborhood, and committed to friends and family (in-laws were visiting, and all were assisting a neighbor with a garage sale). The fact that North Hampton possesses two dedicated neighborhood associations (Tilles Park Neighborhood Association and Kingshighway Hills Neighborhood Association) is testament to this as well.

northhampton002

photograph by Ann Aurbach

northhampton004

photograph by Dan Henrichs Photography, St. Louis

northhampton019

photograph by Jason Gray

northhampton016

photograph by Jason Gray

northhampton007

photograph by Michelle Williams

One of the earliest non-agrarian businesses in North Hampton was the Missouri Crematory. Built in 1888, the Crematory was the first to practice cremations west of the Mississippi. The Columbrium, added later, was designed as a final resting place for cremated remains. Both structures are beautiful, a little spooky, and definitely unexpected for the area today.

northhampton012

photograph by Dan Henrichs Photography, St. Louis

northhampton003

photograph by Michelle Williams

northhampton011

photograph by Ann Aurbach

northhampton013

photograph by Ann Aurbach

Today, North Hampton is a desirable and safe neighborhood to call home. Centrally located, the area is within a quick drive or bike ride to most of South City. Tilles Park, named after the older park in St. Louis County, provides recreational opportunities for residents, and was full of activity on our visit. If you have not yet set foot in North Hampton, consider stepping out next time you are driving along its borders. No doubt, you will be rewarded with its pleasant surprises.

northhampton008

photograph by Ann Aurbach

northhampton010

photograph by Michelle Williams

northhampton015

photograph by Dan Henrichs Photography, St. Louis

northhampton018

photograph by Jason Gray

MAP:
12011345_686919074742755_3227817020615143462_n

Our end point for Photo Flood 38 was to El Tapatio, but we had to take a rain check due to busy Flooders’ schedules. We’ll visit you someday, El Tapatio!

0 Comments

Leave a reply

©2019 Photo Flood Saint Louis

Log in with your credentials

or    

Forgot your details?

Create Account