Certainly, St. Louis is a city of contrasts, and Ellendale, on our far western border, is a firm example. It’s 130-year history includes successes in industry (Scullins Steel) and failures in renewal (St. Louis Marketplace); interestingly and somewhat ironically, the latter sits on the exact site of the former. Nonetheless, Ellendale has persisted through the years, and this fact offered for some exciting architectural variety to photograph. Here, shotgun style and flounder houses rub elbows with Victorians, and apartment buildings sit across the street from sprawling industrial complexes. “Encrustation” is visible everywhere, from attached garages converted into living spaces, to brick homes with wood or vinyl-sided expansions. Even so, the area appears very well-maintained, and thoroughly “lived-in”; it is a working class community with an expansive heritage and a lot of heart.
The area was founded as “Ellendale” by Kate Thomas, who inherited the land from her father, James Sutton, in 1877. Even before this time, the region was a thriving industrial center for coal and steel. With the introduction of streetcars to Ellendale, the neighborhood’s population began to rise steadily. Until it closed in 1981, Scullin Steel Company was the major employer, with a huge foundry and rolling mill in the area. Incidentally, Scullin was one of the suppliers of steel for the Gateway Arch. In 1992, the former Scullin Steel Company complex was demolished for the St. Louis Marketplace. Regional leaders anticipated that the introduction of this large shopping center would revitalize Ellendale, which had been long deteriorating. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. Still, Ellendale has seen some new businesses opening in recent years, and hope for a complete renaissance prospers.
Our end point was the Piccadilly at Manhattan, which was a cozy place to grab a drink, something to eat (the Grouper sandwich was delicious!), and talk photography with friends.