For my first informational post, I’d like to take you to my all-time favorite St. Louis neighborhood: Compton Heights. I became intimately familiar with many of the monumental homes in this stately and historic area during my 13 years of playing saxophone in the Compton Heights Concert Band. During those years, I had the great privilege of helping to organize fund-raising house tours to benefit the band. It was a lot of hard work, but also a great way to take a trip back in time to enjoy a true insider’s look at some of the finest homes in a city with a great deal of wondrous residential architecture.
Compton Heights consists of two streets, Hawthorne and Longfellow boulevards, which form a long lima bean shape between them as they curve gently from Grand Avenue on the west, to Russell Blvd. on the north. The streets were designed and laid out by Julius Pitzman in 1889-1890. From its beginnings, Compton Heights was a favorite residential area of the city’s more prosperous German families, and a good number of them called upon the services of German architects to design their homes. Much of this work was dominated by two notable architects: Otto Wilhelmi and Ernst Janssen.
I’ve been out of the band since 1994, but I still return when I can, to stroll around the gracefully curving streets, remembering the years I spent in the shadows of these amazing homes. The home pictured above is a good example of what you’ll see in “The Heights.” Built in 1903, this French Renaissance-style home is located at 3263 Hawthorne. It was designed by Ernst Janssen for Louis and Bertha Stockstrom. Stockstrom is widely known for another home he later occupied in Compton Heights: His “Magic Chef” mansion at 3400 Russell.
On your next trip to the city, drive through and marvel at the turn-of-the-century elegance that stands as a testament to St. Louis’ rich legacy of residential architecture. Prepare to be amazed!