The Ultimate 2024 Neighborhood Guide to Lafayette Square, St Louis

Updated

by Jacob P

Are you looking for an opportunity to own a piece of St. Louis History? Lafayette Square is a glimpse into Victorian St Louis during its most vibrant years! Brightly colored historic homes overlook the heart of it all – LaFayette Park. 

City Living at Its Best 

This St. Louis City Neighborhood is the perfect intersection of stylish restaurants, a rich history, and easy interstate access. It’s a gateway to other trendy neighborhoods like Soulard, Tower Grove, Benton Park, and Fox Park. 

Neighborhood’s Boundaries:

  • North: Chouteau Avenue 

  • South: Interstate 44 

  • East: Truman Parkway 

  • West: South Jefferson Avenue

Map of Lafayette Square St. Louis, MO

Home Styles in Lafayette Square

Some of the houses trace their roots back to the pre-Civil War era. Others, particularly some of the most impressive ones, were built in the latter half of the 19th century. These trademark homes showcase architectural features such as arched doorways and windows.

The most famous among them are ‘The Painted Ladies’—colorful Victorian homes that face Lafayette Park.

Painted Ladies in Lafayette Square St. Louis

In addition to the restored single-family homes, there are: 

  • Multi-family homes 

  • Up-scale lofts 

  • Luxury apartments  

  • Condominiums 

Some homes in the area are newer construction that blend seamlessly with the historical aesthetic. 

These townhouses were built in 1983:

Town houses built in 1983, Lafayette Square St. Louis

Recent and Upcoming Residential Development

2220 LaSalle at Lafayette Square features 128-unit luxury apartments. It was constructed in 2023 at the southeast corner edge of Lafayette Square, encompassing 12 acres. 

There are plans for another apartment complex, The Lagosian Apartments at 2300 LaSalle. These would include 34 brick townhouse apartments in a style more commonly seen in NYC. Developers are hoping for a summer of 2024 opening. 

New apartments in lafayette square neighborhood

These new apartments are anticipated to energize the local restaurants and small businesses in the area.

Lafayette Park

The Heart of Lafayette Square: Established in 1836, Lafayette Park is the oldest city park west of the Mississippi. At 30 acres, this picturesque park has:

  • A beautiful lake with an iron bridge that is one of the most photographed in the city

  • A regal iron fence and gate from 1869

  • Scenic, nature walking paths

  • On the southeast side, a restored Police Station that now serves as the Park House 

  • Well-kept playground with new water fountains and sculptures

  • Beautifully maintained pavilions

Lafayette Park in St. Louis, Missouri

If you’re visiting and want to learn more about the history, there’s a self-guided tour!

The History of Lafayette Square St. Louis

At first, this area was considered ‘too remote’ for anyone to build a home. However, by 1860, St. Louis experienced a 900% population growth!

From 1860 and the two decades following, the Lafayette Square neighborhood became trendy, attracting notable politicians and businessmen who chose to build their homes here. 

Historic photo of Lafayette Square

In the 1890s, many families started moving further west. In 1896, Lafayette Square suffered a blow when a devastating tornado hit. Instead of rebuilding, numerous families joined the Western migration.

Damaged homes in Lafayette Square, St. Louis, MO

By the 1920s, Lafayette Square was a mere shadow of its former glory. Many homes were converted into multi-family dwellings and left to deteriorate, with some buildings being taken down completely due to neglect.

The Neighborhood Makes a Comeback

Fast forward to the 1960s. A small group of passionate residents formed the Lafayette Square Restoration Committee, determined to restore these once-grand homes. 

  • The city recognized Lafayette Square as its first historic district in 1972

  • In 1973, Congress placed LaFayette Square in the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Historic Codes now protect the neighborhood’s aesthetic

Renovated homes in Lafayette Square

City Lifestyle

The beautiful tree-lined streets, Lafayette Park, and the timeless houses are a major draw to this area for visitors and residents alike. It’s not uncommon to see people taking a stroll, going for a jog, or walking their dogs. In addition, there are delightful shops and numerous eateries to explore while you walk through this exceptional city neighborhood.

A Vibrant Culinary Scene!

There are several notable restaurants, cocktail bars, and brunch spots. These social establishments embrace the distinct charm that defines this area.

Park Ave shops in lafayette Square
  • Bailey’s Chocolate Bar: A dessert and martini bar, this place has been a St. Louis favorite since its opening in 2004, making it an ideal spot to celebrate any occasion.

  • Eleven Eleven Mississippi: A new take on rustic Tuscan cuisine. This restaurant has become a destination for foodies. They also have more casual dishes and serve lunch.

  • Polite Society: Serving dinner and brunch, this restaurant offers a welcoming environment and an eclectic American menu.

  • Planters House: An upscale seasonal bar and restaurant with an inviting vibe.

  • Clementines Naughty and Nice Creamery: Known for its boozy ice cream, unique flavors, and vegan options.

  • Square One Brewery and Distillery: This establishment features a wide selection of spirits, beer, and elevated pub food in a restored historic building!

  • Park Avenue Coffee: Every neighborhood has a coffee shop. This one features an outdoor area and the local dessert favorite, Gooey Butter Cake.

  • 33 Wine Shop and Bar: A great place for wine lovers with a knowledgeable and friendly staff to help with selections.

Community Events

Look out for these community events:

Summer Concert Series at LaFayette Park: Bi-weekly concerts at the Betsy Cook Pavilion. A free event where attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket.

Annual Light Up the Square & Holiday Pet Parade: This whimsical event occurs every winter at LaFayette Square Fountain Plaza. It features holiday music, food/drink, a pet parade, and tree lighting.

Holiday Parlor Tour and Holiday Market: Taking place annually in December, this event includes carriage rides, a holiday market, and trolley tours. (Tickets tend to sell out)

Trick or Treat in the Square: This Halloween tradition offers an old-fashioned trick-or-treat experience. Residents participate by decorating their houses and handing out candy.

Living in a St. Louis City Historic District

Lafayette square sign in St. Louis, MO

If you’re considering owning a home or business in Lafayette Square, understanding the Historic Code that safeguards the historical charm of the neighborhood is crucial. 

If you’re interested in the local regulations click here. Here are some of the general guidelines:

  • Restrictions apply exclusively to building exteriors.

  • Public-facing windows must be wood, not vinyl or aluminum.

  • All structures visible from the street must be brick.

  • Fences must mirror historical styles in the area and adhere to height restrictions.

The Ups and Downs of Owning a Historic Home

Owning a historic home can be rewarding. However, it’s a good idea to do some research before diving in. Especially if you have dreams of “making it your own.” 

Not only are you taking on the house’s history, but of anyone who has owned or worked on it before you! 

Historic district of Lafayette Square

Here are some tips if you’re considering owning an older home:

Use the city’s Address and Property Search to check out recent construction permits, assessments, taxes, etc on the property you’re considering. 

Research if there are any grants or loans available for historic home restoration. Here’s a link to a list of organizations to get you started!

Talk to the locals! Homeowners in Lafayette Square are passionate about restoration and preservation. Consider contacting the neighborhood association.

For any inspections, find someone familiar with historic homes.

For brick homes, tuckpointing should be done every 25-30 years. Try to find out the last time tuckpointing was done.

When viewing homes pay attention to things that can be costly repairs in the future:

  • Foundation issues: cracked walls, water damage, or uneven floors.

  • Roof: Find out what type of roof the house has and how often that style of roof should be replaced. Then find out the last time it was replaced!

  • Check for signs of water damage: discoloration of the walls or leaks.

  • Check the windows. If it’s a Historic District there will be limitations on the types of windows you can have, but you can have newer windows.

  • Check your homeowner’s insurance to see if it covers older homes.  

Check out this article on buying an older home for more tips!

Choosing a historic home means joining a community passionate about history and architecture. While maintenance costs are a consideration, for many, preserving history is a valuable investment. Considering the pros and cons upfront can shape whether your investment becomes a part of the plan or a potential burden.