Every home has a story to tell, and some have more to say than others. We asked local real estate agents to share the histories behind a current listing or recent sale.
16 Portland Place
When the weather is nice, you often can find the current owners of 16 Portland Place out on the clay tennis court—the same one where Dwight Davis played 102 years ago. The court sits on the grounds next to the almost 13,000-square-foot Georgian Revival home built for the famous tennis player, St. Louis native and founder of the Davis Cup competition. It is an impressive fixture in the prestigious Central West End neighborhood. “It’s a magnificent house, and so many people are aware of Dwight Davis and the Davis Cup, so the history behind it is very interesting,” says Janet McAfee agent Kevin Hurley.
Designed by Scottish architect James Jamieson in 1910, the eight-bedroom, nine-bath home features intricate architectural details that have been well-maintained through the years. Only a handful of owners have lived in the home since Dwight Davis first resided there. The current owners moved in 1968 and raised 13 children, taking full advantage of the expansive grounds, gardens, pool and of course, the tennis court. “People who see the house and hear about Davis just think it’s really cool,” Hurley explains. “I have people calling from out-of-state—it’s quite the place.”
The property currently is listed for $1.595 million.
4 St. Andrews Drive
After years as a St. Louis real estate agent, Mary Ciapciak was well aware of the famous architect team of Raymond Maritz and Ridgely Young. But it wasn’t until she bought one of their designed homes at 4 St. Andrews Drive (through her mother and Prudential Alliance partner, Tina Niemann), that she truly discovered their impact on local architecture. “I started to investigate them and even got a chance to see and get copies of the original blueprints from Washington University, which has a collection of Maritz and Young documents,” Ciapciak says.
Along the way, she also discovered that a fellow Prudential agent was actually the niece of Maritz’s son, Raymond Maritz Jr. When he learned of the connection, Maritz requested a chance to visit one of his father’s homes and show the next generations of his family—a request that Ciapciak was happy to grant after closing in January 2012 on the 5,500-square-foot Ladue home, listed by Ellie Sedgwick and Marcy Byrne of Janet McAfee Real Estate. “It was fun to have the son of the original architect in our home,” she notes.
Six months after visiting, Maritz returned to see the renovation work Ciapciak and her husband, Robert, had completed on the home. With the home built in 1926, the Ciapciaks focused on modernizing it, while preserving the original features and with no add-ons or changes to the exterior. “We were very careful to maintain the integrity of the Maritz and Young architecture,” Ciapciak says. “And when Maritz’s son left, the last thing he said was, My father would be very proud.”
621 East Monroe
The lot of 621 East Monroe spans the depth of a block, sitting on 1.59 acres near downtown Kirkwood. With the original home and red barn built in 1910 still standing, as well as the large oak trees out front that long predate that construction, the property has a feeling of a bygone era, says Laura McCarthy Real Estate’s Linda Hodge. “It has such presence and you feel like you’re stepping back into the past.”
The 4,000-square-foot home was one of seven built by Joseph Franklin in the Kirkwood-Oakland area. Originally from Ireland, Franklin worked for the William Barr Dry Goods Company, making his way up to VP before the company merged with David May’s Famous Clothing Store in 1911 to become Famous-Barr. Franklin built the home at 621 East Monroe for two of his maiden daughters, a story that was documented by his granddaughter, Josephine Franklin, in her book, Seven Houses.
The current owners have lived in the home for 40 years, raising four daughters. Many of the original features of the home remain, including the butler’s pantry and pocket doors. While the red barn now houses cars instead of horses, and sits next to an in-ground pool, it still has its tack room, stalls and hay loft, echoing back to a different time.
The property currently is listed for $925,000.
453 Gray Avenue
Thomas Curtis grew up in 453 Gray Ave. in Webster Groves, and before he passed away in 1993, the former Missouri congressman wrote down his childhood memories of playing bicycle polo with croquet mallets in the front yard, and cataloging the 4,000 books in the library. In his typed-out pages, Curtis’ detailed memories are a glimpse into the history behind the home. His stories are just part of the property's background discovered by Prudential Alliance agent Margie Medelberg when she sold it to the current owners in 2010. “It’s one of those houses where, if only the walls could talk,” she says.
The property was first bought by the Curtis family in 1884, with the existing two-story Colonial-style brick home built in 1922. Seven owners have occupied the address since, with the most recent, Tom Brewster, doing extensive work to restore the 7,000-square-foot home, including recreating the Curtis library. “He preserved the bones of the home, while bringing it back to life and modernizing it,” Medelberg explains.
At open houses at the property, several previous owners and neighbors toured the home, sharing their memories. One family hosted each of their six children’s weddings in the backyard, and recalled a quartet warming up in the bathroom before the festivities. At 90 years old, the impressive home—sitting on 1.83 acres with a tennis court and pool—is set for more memories to be made, Medelberg suspects. “The property has played a major role in the development of Webster, and as it has aged, has transitioned beautifully in the neighborhood.”