The Ultimate 2024 Neighborhood Guide to Benton Park, St. Louis

Updated

by Jacob P

With its prime location, diverse architecture, and top-notch restaurants, let’s dive into why Benton Park is one of the best St. Louis neighborhoods for city living.

City Living Where Everything is Within Reach

Benton Park is perfect for people seeking the convenience of the city without being in the middle of the party. It’s just across the I-55 bridge from Soulard, famous for its lively atmosphere and annual Mardi Gras celebration.

Cherokee Street, known for its diverse restaurants, quirky bars, and shops, borders the neighborhood. 

Plus, there are many restaurants and attractions within Benton Park!

Benton Park Neighborhood St. Louis

Benton Park is bounded by the following:

  • North: Gravois Avenue

  • South: Interstate 55

  • East: Cherokee Street

  • West: South Jefferson Avenue

Benton Park Neighborhood Boundaries

A Dive into Benton Park’s Past

Benton Park was originally set aside as the City Cemetery and was considered far from St Louis’ center. But in the late 1850s, German immigrants started moving in, attracted by the cheap land and the breweries nearby where many of them worked. 

The population increased enough that in 1866, the city decided to move the cemetery to Bellefontaine. 

The area was then renamed City Park. This drew in businesses and some prominent families who built larger homes in the area, most notably the Lemp Mansion. 

In 1882, City Park was renamed Benton Park after Senator Thomas Hart Benton. 

By the mid-1900s, Benton Park had fallen into decline.

Rebuilding Benton Park

In the late 1960s and 1970s, the neighborhood began to undergo revitalization. These efforts paid off when, in 1985, Benton Park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2006, it was designated as a City Historic District

From Hidden Beer Caves to Haunted Houses

One of the most fascinating things about Benton Park is the local lore.

English Caves 

Nestled beneath Benton Park, English Cave ranks as St. Louis’ second-largest cave network. 

It owes its name to Ezra English, who was a brewer who used the caves to cool his brews. 

Ezra opened an underground beer garden where people could explore the caves, drink beer, and bowl.

In the early 1900s, the city sealed off the cave, and the lost beer garden became local lore. 

For years, cave enthusiasts and history buffs searched for its lost entrance. 

Recently rediscovered, the cave remains sealed. However, scans give us a virtual glimpse into the cave’s past glory. 

Lemp Mansion

This historic mansion was constructed in the early 1860s and served as both the residence of the Lemp family as well as offices for the Lemp Brewery. It is now a restaurant, inn, and event space, hosting regular events such as mystery dinners, ghost tours, brunches, and parties. 

The tragic tale of the Lemp family and their legacy has contributed to the rumors of the mansion being haunted. There are several ghost tours and historical tours that feature The Lemp Mansion. 

And if you’re walking by, be sure to check out the historical marker in front of the property. 

Benton Park vs Benton Park West

Benton Park West is Benton Park’s more eclectic neighbor that expands west past the Jefferson Street boundary of Benton Park. 

These two neighborhoods have some of the same characteristics: historic working-class homes mixed in with larger homes from the mid to late 1800s. 

You tend to find cheaper homes and more multi-family options in Benton Park West. 

The Benton Park neighborhood takes a lot of its character from Cherokee St with its mix of diverse restaurants, quirky bars, niche businesses, and music venues. 

Be sure to check out the annual Cinco De Mayo Street Festival and the annual Print Bazaar.  

Homes in Benton Park

Benton Park Neighborhood (2)

Benton Park features a diverse array of architectural styles, primarily dating from the mid to late 1800s. 

Benton Park Neighborhood (4)

This neighborhood has a little bit of everything. It’s common to see a small one-story house next to a 3-story Italianate-style row house with a large Victorian house on the corner. 

And if you especially love a good Victorian-style home, be sure to check out the Painted Ladies of Lafayette Square!

Benton Park Neighborhood connected homes

Many residents have also preserved remnants of the old businesses by keeping the original signage.

Salena Street in Benton park

Some homes have undergone extensive rehabilitation, restoring them to their former glory. Others are a bit dated and still in need of rehab.

There are multi-family units that have been converted into single-family homes and vice versa. You’ll also find historic buildings that have been converted into apartments, condos, and artists’ lofts.

Senate Square Apartments

Additionally, new construction homes in Benton Park mimic the 1800s brick exterior row houses. 

Indiana Ave new homes in Benton Park

You’ll also find mixed-use buildings where there is a business on the ground floor and living space is above.

If you’re looking for a place to rent or buy, there’s plenty to choose from.

Living in a Historic District

Benton Park Neighborhood brick homes

The Benton Park neighborhood is designated a Historic District, which imposes restrictions on new construction and renovations on existing homes. 

These limitations primarily apply to the exterior, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the building’s original appearance. 

Bottom line

  • Avoid alterations that would make the building look newer or older.

  • Ensure that any new additions match the existing architectural aesthetic.

Modern Homes

There are newer homes in Benton Park, mostly along Pestalozzi Street and several on Indiana Avenue. These brick townhouses are mixed in with older homes and designed to blend in. But many have a modern flare that gives it away as being newer built. 

Benton Park Neighborhood old and new homes

New Development

  • The corner of Salena St and Pestalozzi St: These brick townhomes were completed in winter 2023.

Pestalozzi St and Salena St
  • The corner of Indiana Ave and Pestalozzi: A single-family residence that is expected to be completed by spring 2024.

Benton Park Lifestyle

One of the amazing things about Benton Park is how restaurants and small businesses are woven into the neighborhood. Nestled between the homes, there’s always a new local shop to discover.

This makes for a lively community where you’re sure to find something within walking distance.

Live Music

Venice Cafe: a unique performance venue adorned with mosaics, sculptures, and a larger-than-life portrait of PeeWee Herman. Known for showcasing local music, it hosts a weekly open mic night and offers indoor and outdoor performance spaces.

Venice Cafe in Benton park St. Louis

Spine Cafe: a cozy indie bookstore and coffee shop located next to the park. It offers a space to gather and enjoy events such as live music, poetry readings, and open mic nights.

Spine Indie Bookstore and Cafe

And if you want to venture outside the neighborhood, be sure to hop on over to Tower Grove South and check out the international cuisine along Grand Blvd.

Parks

Residents of this St. Louis neighborhood enjoy the scenic views of the park, whether they’re going for a morning jog or walking their dogs.

Benton Park is the neighborhood’s largest park.

Benton Park Lake: A favorite spot for local residents to enjoy the scenery and feed the geese and ducks. There’s also a charming stone bridge that adds to the picturesque scene.

There’s also an expansive playground with a splash pad, and tennis and pickleball courts. Don’t miss out on the Summer Concert Series!

Fremont Park: Featuring a multi-purpose field and vibrant playground, this shaded park is a great place to take the kids.

Fremont Park (Benton Park Neighborhood)

Cherokee Park: Sports enthusiasts will like the amenities, which include a baseball field, soccer field, and playground.

Carnegie Park: Enjoy the peaceful ambiance of this small city park, with picturesque landscaping and benches offering scenic views.

Restaurants

Gus' Pretzels in Benton Park St. Louis, MO

Gus’ Pretzels: A family-owned restaurant serving pretzels the same way since 1920! They have Pretzel Sandwiches (sausages wrapped in a pretzel), salted and unsalted pretzels, cinnamon sugar, and garlic butter pretzels.

Benton Park Cafe: A beloved brunch spot where the owners have created a French Quarter, New Orleans vibe. Starting January 2024, it will also be open in the evenings for cocktails!

Yemanja Brasil: Temporarily closed but a staple in the Benton Park community since 1995, serving authentic Brazilian dishes. They are gearing up to reopen with a more casual vibe (date to be announced). They also host an annual Brazil Fest in September in front of their restaurant. Keep an eye out for their reopening!

Arzola’s Fajitas + Margaritas: A new addition to Benton Park, this upscale Tex-Mex restaurant’s signature dishes are in the name! Fajitas and Margaritas. 

Blues City Deli: It’s not uncommon to see a line wrapped around the corner at this popular lunch spot. Great sandwiches with a casual vibe.

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar: Some will swear it’s the best fried chicken they’ve ever had. Hodaks has been serving St Louisans since 1962! 

Peacemaker Lobster & Crab: Serving up New Orleans-inspired cuisine in a rustic Americana setting. Don’t miss out on their locally famous lobster rolls.

Bluewood Brewing: This local brewery is housed in the historic Lemp stables. Known for its fantastic beer selection, Bluewood also hosts numerous community events and features live music regularly. And dogs are welcome on the patio!

Even More To Do in Benton Park!

Benton Parkade: That’s right, an arcade right in Benton Park! It features skee ball, pinball, pool, and more. Conveniently connected to Cafe Piazza, grab a slice, a pint, and play!

Lemp Mansion: Lemp Mansion is an inn and restaurant that hosts events regularly. Mystery Dinners, ghost tours, annual parties, and more. Check out their site for the most up-to-date happenings. 

Ghost Tours by the St. Louis Paranormal Research Society: This tour includes stories about the Lemp Mansion and other local legends in a walking tour. Recommended for adults, as some of the material can be very scary.

St. Louis History and Architecture Walking Tour: Book a historic walking tour to learn more about the diverse architecture and origins of Benton Park.

Indigo Massage and Wellness: This local wellness center offers massage and yoga as well as other restorative experiences. 

Check out The Benton Park Neighborhood Association’s business directory for a complete list of offerings in the neighborhood.