Blanchette's Mill, 921 South Main, ca. 1977
Western House, 1001 South Main, ca. 1975
French House, 719 South Main, ca. 1974
833 South Main
612 South Main
The most influential beginning of historic preservation in St. Charles began in the early 1960's when a small group banded together to bring about the purchase of property which had been the legislator’s meeting site in the days of the formation of the State of Missouri. By the mid 60's, the group had secured funding for restoration and obtained commitments from the State of Missouri to be the permanent custodian of the first state capitol property. St. Charles’ identity as the First State Capitol of Missouri had been established.
Awareness of the value of the many early 1800's structures to the entire community resulted in city officials creating a special zoning district named HD Historic District. This restricted zoning was pioneering in its time, and was the origin of this Architectural Review Board. Only a few buildings had been repaired then and many were in jeopardy of actually falling down. Those Board Members had only a few words of guidance and no money for consultants or studies. Their work was challenging: equally challenging was the work of securing a "permit". Yet it serves today, 40 years later, as precedent.
A larger volunteer group, in a companion 1960's effort, researched and documented the history and architecture of Main Street properties from Madison to just south of Main at Boone’s Lick Road which supported the nomination of the area to the National Register of Historic Places. And in June of 1970, the "Main Street Historic District" was recognized to be of National importance and officially placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Only a few areas had been similarly recognized as districts at that time.
The Historical Society group and several others had renovated a few of our historic buildings in the 1960's, but the early 1970's saw dozens more new restoration projects completed. Business enterprises had become well established. Millions of federal dollars became available to be spent on historic demonstration projects and redevelopment of the Historic District and larger surrounding area: the river front was cleaned and filled in to become Frontier Park. Riverside Drive was constructed along with parking areas throughout. The structural and exterior work on Stone Row, Farmers Tavern and Western House was completed creating opportunity for private owners to finish the projects. Storage lots for wrecked cars and lumber were relocated, including the City’s storage of street salt and equipment. New construction in the character of the older buildings filled in. Kister Park and Berthold Square park spaces were also created, and I am proud that both were designed by my husband, George.
By the end of the 70's, interest in restoration and reuse of older buildings had widely expanded to include many residences and the neighborhood of Frenchtown. The industry of tourism, centered on the historic character of our community, became an important part of the local economy with voluntary tax districts funding the initial efforts.
The 1980's can be marked by expanded participation in rehabilitation and restoration, and especially the official local recognition of additional historic districts with special zoning. Frenchtown, and the Downtown area further north on Main Street, received their much deserved recognition with placement on the National Register of Historic Places. And the responsibilities of the Landmarks Board were also expanded.
Read more .. next >>