The stately homes of Kingsbury Place will be showcased at this year’s Central West End Home and Garden Tour on Saturday and Sunday, June 15 and 16. A preview party will be held Friday, June 14.
Kingsbury Place was founded in 1902, and was designated a city landmark by the City of St. Louis in 1973.
Julius Pitzman, surveyor and planner who had been the chief engineer for Forest Park, platted the land formerly owned by sisters Adele and Mary Virginia Kingsbury.
Jeff Fister, a former resident and member of the Central West End Association, said Pitzman developed the concept of the private street.
“He designed a lot of the layout of the Central West End with private streets,” Fister said. “The developer bought the land, planned it out, and people would hire an architect, which resulted in all the different styles to express the personalities of their wealthy owners.”
Entering Kingsbury Place through the Beaux Arts gate off Union Boulevard can be a tight fit for cars since the gates were designed for horse-drawn carriages.
One of the featured homes, #12 Kingsbury Place, owned by Tim and Donna Goodson, is the first steel and concrete home constructed in the area.
The English Regency house was designed by Lawrence Ewald for John L. Green, president and owner of Laclede Christy Clay Products, a tile company.
“The city engineers were afraid that it (the house) wouldn’t be able to hold its own weight,” said Donna Goodson. “Before they would complete building the house, they made him fill up this room (a massive living room) with 3 feet of wet sand.
“There is not much wood in the house, and a lot of what you see that looks like wood is plaster, so your fire insurance is very low,” Goodson said.
The home contains many of its original elements, and the gray tile floor in the foyer exemplifies Green’s work. The ceilings are 12 feet high. The large windows throughout the house were made in 1912, so the glass seems to “wave” due to the way old glass was fabricated.
The house is 6,600 square feet, not counting the full basement. The original coal chute shares space with the updated heating and cooling system.
At the top of the three-story home is a large room surrounded by windows that overlooks a large catalpa tree and the pool and garden.
This house was the first in the neighborhood to have a pool. Donna Goodson, an avid gardener, has planted lilac bushes and other perennials around the patio and pool, making it the perfect place to enjoy an afternoon glass of tea or wine.
The dining room looks out onto the patio, and the Goodson’s cat, “Pumpkin,” longing to go outside, sits by the windows watching the birds.
The home features two staircases, one for family and a narrow one in the rear with a separate entrance for the maid and butler. A small cleaning sink stands by these stairs and Goodson said she kept it because she felt it connected her to the original owners.
“This house wasn’t wealthy by any standards because it only had one maid and one butler,” Goodson said.
During the house tour, Goodson and her daughter Lindsay will be in period dress to show visitors around their home.
“Lindsay will be Mrs. Green, and I will be Gert, the Green’s maid,” Goodson said, adding that she invented the maid’s name.
The Goodson’s have not made any major changes to the home, except for some updating of the electrical and plumbing, and installing a shower in the master bathroom.
“We think of her (the house) as a little old woman and every now and then, she gets a wrinkle and we just want to keep her going,” she said. “We’ve done a little painting, but most everything is the way it was.”
A decline in the Central West End area began after the Depression and World War II when families realized they could not afford to keep the staff necessary to run the household. In order to keep their homes, people would turn them into boarding houses.
Fister said when “white flight” to the suburbs began in the 1950s and 1960s, many urban planners returned to revitalize the Central West End.
“You had a lot of these magnificent homes in terms of housing stock, and people realized that you could buy these homes at a relatively low cost, and with some sweat equity, have a good investment,” he said.
“On Portland Place and Westmoreland Place, you could buy some of these homes for $30,000,” Fister said. “They were a wreck, but they had ‘good bones,’ as they say, and now sell for over a million dollars.
“It’s really restoration because of the craftsmanship that went into building these homes,” he said. “As a result, you had homes built with incredible woodworking and stone, and you can’t duplicate that anymore.
“Most of them were built around the turn of the century when wealthy people wanted to get out of the city to these open lands,” he said.
CWE Home & Garden Tour
This is the 47th tour presented by the Central West End Association, and it will feature five homes, including the Goodson’s. The association was formed in the late 1950s, but the tours did not begin until 1972.
“There are some really cool design elements that are original to these homes and something worth seeing, whether you’re interested in architecture, interior design and gardens or not,” said Jess Campbell, the association’s executive director. “They are beautifully restored homes and interiors that these homeowners have spent years in time and resources to make beautiful.”
This year’s tour will include food trucks so people can take a break from touring and have a picnic on the boulevard.
Tickets are $20 for association members and $30 for non-members. Hours for the tour are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Friday June 14 kick-off party will feature live music and great food. Tickets are $100 each for Central West End Association members. Non-member tickets are $125 each
For more information, visit www.thecwe.org.
Homes On The Tour
#12 Kingsbury Place
The English Regency home at #12 Kingsbury Place was designed in 1912 by Lawrence Ewald for John L. Green (see related story).
#25 Kingsbury Place
The original owner and builder of Number 25, Charles A. Antrim, was a lumber baron, evidenced by the rich woods displayed as a dominant feature throughout the home.
The three-story, 16-room Italian Villa style mansion, built in 1909, includes the original grand oak staircase with hand-milled dark oak balustrades. The interiors are enhanced by unique molding above all the doorways and ceiling trim. An original family crest is engraved over one of the five fireplaces.
The dining room fireplace features original cobalt blue pottery from Rookwood Pottery. One of the fireplaces is made of pecan wood, and another is constructed of carved wood and rose marble.
This house is the only one on Kingsbury Place with an adjacent lot. A four-acre pond once existed on the lots now occupied by numbers 23 and 25. Later owners Robert and Joan Falk built an in-ground swimming pool where the pond had been filled in.
The pool includes an outdoor family room complete with fireplace and cabana.
#33 Kingsbury Place
Built in 1909 in the arts and crafts style, the home was first owned by banker Joseph. S. Calfee and his family. Noted architect Gale Henderson designed this home and it includes original millwork, original leaded glass and, on the landing leading from the first to the second floor, a massive stained glass window has been refurbished to its original beauty. The home has had only five owners, with the Calfees and Teasdales each owning it for 47 years. The current residents, Zane and Lee Cagle, have kept the 110 year tradition of this home alive by filling it with friends and family.
#46 Kingsbury Place
Architects Roth & Study designed this Georgian Revival-style house for Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel W. Ewing at the cost of $20,000 in 1915.
Chris Sheban and Meredith Throop are the current residents. After finding a great deal of termite damage in the kitchen, the couple gutted the entire room and it now features a stunning island central to the family’s daily life. The wooded butler’s pantry and the green quarry tile floor in the den are also original to the home. An old linoleum floor was removed in the foyer and the original black and white tile floor you see today was unearthed.
#59 Kingsbury Place
The Colonial Revival-style home was built in 1910 by the A.J. Taussig architectural firm for the Elisha G. Scudder Sr. family.
Originally built with four bedrooms on the second floor and two on the third floor, renovations in the 1990s converted one of the bedrooms to a large master suite that includes a master bedroom, master bath and a sitting room still enjoyed by owners. Most of the hardwood floors are original to the house. The 5,700 square-foot, 12-room house contains four bathrooms.
#63 Kingsbury Place
This Georgian style mansion, known as the Southern Comfort House, was designed by famed architect George Hellmuth on a commission from Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Massee. Completed in 1915, the three-story, five-bedroom house features large suspended sliding doors with no floor support leading from the foyer to the dining and living rooms. Stained glass pieces highlight the main stairwell and bathrooms.