One of the most recognizable landmarks in the Central West End, the French Norman clock tower at the entrance to Washington Terrace, was designed by 18th-century architect Harvey Ellis. The imposing structure, constructed of Roman brick, reflects the opulent style and magnificent architecture of Washington Terrace homes, including No. 15, the Mediterranean-style home designed by William Levy for Thomas May of May Department Stores in 1913, and the location of this year’s Ladue News Show House.
In his meticulously researched book, Architecture of the Private Streets of St. Louis: The Architects and the Houses They Designed, author Charles Savage describes Washington Terrace as “the last of the private streets with a consistent scale and sustained architectural quality for its full length.” The tree-lined street, laid out by engineer Julius Pitzman in 1892, was originally developed as Bell Place, with additional land that would eventually become the neighboring street, Kingsbury Place. Among the neighborhood’s deed restrictions was a provision that “no home could cost less than $10,000.” More than a century later, Washington Terrace retains the grandeur of the Gilded Age.
Levy, who designed more than two dozen buildings in the CWE, also created the Tudor-influenced homes at No. 8 and No. 18 Washington Terrace in 1910. Savage notes that William Levy was influenced by the work of architect James Jamieson, who designed many of the buildings at Washington University, and used Jamieson’s style as a model for his residential work.
According to Savage, the architectural firm of Barnett, Haynes & Barnett designed at least seven of the homes on the street. One of the partners in that firm, Isaac Taylor, was the supervising architect for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Other prominent architects and firms represented on Washington Terrace include Edward Manny, W. Albert Swasey, Hellmuth & Spiering, Weber & Groves, Mauran, Russell & Garden, and Eames & Young. Of these, Savage notes that Isaac Taylor’s firm, Barnett, Haynes & Barnett, was responsible for two especially noteworthy commissions: No. 41 (described by Savage as “unique to St. Louis”) and No. 36 (a “pedimented entrance within the two-story flat arch is innovative and elegant”), both designed by architect Oscar Enders.
Burton Holmes, an American photographer, filmmaker, and famed travel lecturer in the late 19th century, believed that St. Louis had “more beautiful homes than any other city in the world.” In this century, Washington Terrace stands as exquisite testimony to his belief.