Kaid Benfield Archive


A photo & video update on Old North St. Louis, one of the country’s best revitalization stories

Kaid Benfield

Posted April 16, 2009 at 1:41PM

, , , , , ,

Last year, I could hardly contain my enthusiasm when I learned what has been going on in the Old North neighborhood of St. Louis, a once-thriving community that went through massive decline.  As I wrote last year, it is being brought back in a thoughtful, inclusive, diverse, grassrootsy sort of way, but with some terrific organizational support from the Old North Restoration Group and financial investment from the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance, among a bevy of supporters.

Community engagement is critical to success (by: ONSL Restoration Group)My own view is that no other single category of activity is more important to sustainable development than revitalization.  When done properly, it's great for residents old and new, great for cities, and great for the environment.

The Restoration Group posted a bunch of updates and links on its blog a few days ago.  It's terrific to learn that the Crown Square project is continuing, for example, along with many neighborhood rehabs, despite the recession.  As Michael Allen puts it on his terrific blog about preservation and architecture in St. Louis, Ecology of Absence:

"Take a walk, bike ride or drive through Old North St. Louis these days and you might be tempted to ask 'what recession?' The hardy north side neighborhood continues to be a construction zone, with activity all over the neighborhood."

In this post I'm going to mostly let the pictures tell the story.  These were all taken within the last year.  Here is a redbud tree from last spring, in front of a rehab (via Claire Nowak-Boyd's terrific photo site), and a former kindergarten being rehabbed for housing (thanks to Michael Allen):

  Old North is blooming (by: Claire Nowak-Boyd)  former Ames Elementary School kindergarten (by: Michael Allen)

From the Restoration Group, these two shots from the opening of the farmers' market, last fall, are terrific:

  opening day (by: ONSL Restoration Group)  Here's Johnnie (by: ONSL Restoration Group) 

Some shots of rehabs in progress, and one of rehabs completed, shown in the poster of last year's neighborhood house tour:

  ONSL rehab in progress (by: Michael Allen)  ONSL rehab in progress (by: ONSL Restoration Group)

    poster for last year's house tour (by: Claire Nowak-Boyd)  nearing completion (by: ONSL Restoration Group)

This year's house tour is coming right up.  On the subject of rehabs, here is an interesting blog about the subject from someone undergoing the process right now in Old North.

And, finally, I leave you with a neat video about the neighborhood shown recently on local TV news in St. Louis, and featuring some of the people who are making it happen (including one pictured above!):