Everything You Need to Know about Living in Soulard, St. Louis

Updated

by Jacob P

This vibrant Saint Louis neighborhood is renowned for its lively nightlife, friendly bars, Mardi Gras celebration, historic Soulard Farmers Market, and a community where residents embrace the essence of Soulard living.

Living in Soulard

Learn everything you need to know about living in Soulard, what to do here, and why it’s a top-rated St. Louis neighborhood. 

Soulard’s Prime Location

Soulard’s convenient location makes it easy to explore nearby neighborhoods such as Lafayette Square, Benton Park, and Tower Grove. 

Situated near the interstate, Soulard offers quick access to attractions in Central West End, Forest Park, and Midtown. 

And it’s one neighborhood away from the iconic Mississippi River.

Here are the boundaries for Soulard:

  • North boundary: highway I-44
  • East boundary: S.7th St and S.Broadway
  • West: highway I-55 
Soulard's location Map

Soulard: From Past to Present

Soulard takes its name from Antoine Pierre Soulard, an early settler who fled France during the French Revolution. 

Aware of fellow Frenchmen residing in St. Louis, Antoine Pierre Soulard made his way there when he arrived.

Antoine Soulard began to establish himself by taking on various appointments, including serving as a surveyor. He was given a substantial amount of property to compensate for his work. 

His marriage to Marie Julia Cerré, the daughter of a wealthy merchant and fur trader, expanded their land holdings to include the Cérre Farm.

Before adopting the name Soulard, the area was referred to as Frenchtown.

Julia Soulard: Why We Have The Soulard Market

Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, their land ownership came into question. They filed a lawsuit, but Antoine passed away in 1825, leaving Julia to carry on the legal battle. She settled the case in 1836 and was awarded 124 acres of land. 

Julia divided the property and began selling lots of land.

She gave land to Bishop Rosati to build St Vincent de Paul’s Church.

St Vincent de Paul’s Church

She also gave two acres to the city for Soulard Market, under the condition that it should always be used as a public market.

 Soulard Market

The first Soulard Market building was a one-story brick building built in the 1840s. It expanded in 1865 to include a second-story meeting hall.

In 1898 a tornado caused significant damage to the building. The market continued in randomly built sheds.

In 1928 the current building was constructed. In 1971, Soulard Market became a city landmark.

The Oldest Neighborhood in St Louis

Soulard is widely regarded as the oldest neighborhood in St. Louis. South 8th Street is believed to be home to the oldest standing structure in the area.

 In the 1840s, a lot of development started. Some of the earliest homes built were country estates in the Greek Revival Style. Immigrants that were coming in lived in rowhouses or “half” houses.

Soulard rowhouses or “half” houses.

Homes built after 1850 were more decorated and many mansions went up after the Civil War. 

Soulard Decorated Homes

The Franz Artzt house was built during this time, and it is currently undergoing a loving restoration by its new owner. This restoration includes rebuilding a greenhouse, which was originally part of the building but had been lost over the years.

The Franz Artz house

Soulard is home to several historic churches, with Trinity Lutheran Church, Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, and St. Vincent de Paul’s Church being notable examples. All of these historical landmarks are still in operation.

Soulard historic churches

Soulard’s Decline and Restoration

After World War II, Soulard experienced a period of decline that extended into the 1960s. The trend of people preferring to live in western neighborhoods contributed to this decline, resulting in many properties falling into disrepair.

Soulard's Decline and Restoration

 A failed plan to level the neighborhood prompted a group of passionate residents to advocate for Soulard’s protection as a federal and historical district, which was achieved in 1972.

In 1976 the Soulard Restoration Group was formed, a neighborhood organization that promotes, preserves, and enhances the historic character of the Soulard neighborhood.

Soulard neighborhood

Today, we can see all of these efforts in beautifully restored homes, thriving businesses, and a community that is proud to be part of Soulard’s history and culture.

Homes in Soulard

This largely residential neighborhood has a variety of homes, from historic mansions to row homes to quirky apartments and modern lofts. As one of the oldest communities in St. Louis, Soulard embodies a rich tapestry of architectural styles and historical significance.

Homes in Soulard

Many houses date back to the late 1800s.

Single Family homes 

Soulard boasts many beautifully restored historic homes. 

Soulard Single Family homes

There are examples of Italianate, French Second Empire, and Federal-style homes in Soulard, showcasing the neighborhood’s rich architectural diversity and heritage.

Federal-style homes in Soulard

Flounder Houses

A flounder house is a working-class home that was often an alley house. Flounder houses are only found in the oldest St. Louis neighborhoods like Soulard. Soulard has the highest concentration of them in the city!

Soulard Flounder houses

Here’s how to spot a flounder house:

  • They are narrow
  • Two or two and a half stories high
  • They usually share a lot with a larger residential building
  • They range from “folk” houses to Victorian-style
  • Some were added onto over the years

Multi-Family Homes 

In St. Louis, the terms “multi-family home” and “apartment” are often used interchangeably.

multi-family home

Some multi-family homes are converted single-family homes with interesting layouts.

The older buildings tend to have distinctive features, wood floors and high ceilings.

Soulard multi-family homes

Apartment Buildings

There are several apartment complexes and buildings in Soulard. Many of them are converted historic buildings.

Steelyard Apartments, situated on the easternmost border of Soulard, are prominently visible from 7th Street at Victor Street. This residential complex uses two historic buildings, complemented by a newer structure that wraps around the block. 

Soulard apartment complexes and buildings

Lafayette Lofts was originally Lafayette School, an elementary school that remained open until 2004. After its closing, it was converted into apartments, but its original outer architectural details were kept.

Lafayette Lofts

Soulard Market Lofts are just north of the Soulard Farmers Market. This conversion property was originally built as a baby carriage factory in 1875 and had several incarnations before being redeveloped into 131 modern loft apartments using historic preservation tax credits.

SOHO apartments are a new building by Lux Living that sits on the northernmost corner of Soulard off of South Broadway. Unlike some of the other apartment buildings in Soulard, this one is completely new and has a more modern-looking facade. 

Allen Market Lane Apartments offers senior living accommodations within a converted historic International Hat Company building. 

Allen Market Lane Apartments

Things To Do In Soulard

From annual events to a bustling bar and restaurant scene, Soulard offers something exciting every night of the week!

Soulard Farmers Market

Soulard Farmers Market is the oldest operating public market in St. Louis, and the oldest farmers market west of the Mississippi. 

Soulard Farmers Market

The market holds a variety of produce vendors, meat shops, florist shops, spice shops, and vendors who sell baked goods, hot food, soaps, jewelry, and more.

Soulard market 2

The market is held in a historic 2-story brick building with a covered area that extends off of the building. It’s open year-round, making it a popular destination for locals and visitors looking for reasonably priced produce and other wares.

Bars and Restaurants

Soulard is famous for its vibrant bar and restaurant scene. It’s not unusual to spot a traveling trolley bar or a group of partygoers celebrating a wedding or birthday in the neighborhood. 

Most of the bars are up near Russell Blvd and Menard Street, with a few local favorites in the southern part of Soulard. 

Soulard Bar and Restaurants

They range from quirky dives to sports bars to classic Irish pubs, many of which are housed in historic buildings, adding to the neighborhood’s unique charm. 

Here are a few to get you started:

John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub and Garden or “McGurk’s,” has Irish food and drinks. The pub features live music and a landscaped outdoor space, providing a welcoming environment for patrons to enjoy their meals and drinks. Inside, the warm and inviting brick interior adds to the cozy atmosphere. 

The 1860 Saloon, Game Room, & Hardshell Café offers Cajun cuisine in a cozy brick space. Visitors can enjoy photo-worthy sights like Mardi Gras-inspired statues, along with a pool table and live music.

The International Tap House, Soulard, or “I-Tap,” offers a wide selection of rotating local and international beers. Although I-Tap doesn’t sell food directly, patrons can order from neighboring establishments like Mission Taco or Epic Pizza, with delivery available directly to the tap house, allowing guests to enjoy a delicious meal alongside their drinks.

The International Tap House, Soulard

Bogart’s Smokehouse is a popular BBQ joint located across the street from Soulard Market. It’s recommended to arrive early on weekends as they often sell out of their offerings quickly!

Eat Crow is the sister restaurant to The Crows Nest in Maplewood. Its eclectic interior has a life-size E.T. figurine along with other collectibles. Their menu features items like pork poutine, smash burgers with inventive names, and mac ‘n’ cheese bowls. And of course, a decent selection of draft beers and cocktails. Be sure to check out their Metal Brunch.

Soulard Eat Crow

The Hi-Hat Lounge is a classic Soulard bar characterized by its brick interior, pub food offerings, reasonably priced drinks, and live music.

Molly’s in Soulard features six bars and a spacious terraced patio. It offers American fare and is a destination during Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Molly's in Soulard

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is an annual celebration in Soulard that extends far beyond a single day, with events spanning from January until mid-February. The festivities culminate in the Mardi Gras parade and street party. Be sure to check out the event page for a complete list of Mardi Gras events.

Soulard Mardi Gras

The Purina Pet Parade invites participants and visitors to bring their dogs dressed in their Mardi Gras best! Expect to see four-legged friends adorned in purple, green, and gold festival attire. This wholesome event is perfect for the whole family, and all proceeds go to a no-kill shelter to support our furry friends in need of a loving home. 

The Purina Pet Parade

Taste of Soulard offers a self-guided tasting and pub crawl experience, allowing participants to explore many of the restaurants and bars in Soulard. It’s a fantastic opportunity to sample various culinary delights while immersing yourself in the neighborhood’s vibrant atmosphere. Participants are encouraged to dress in Mardi Gras colors to embrace the festive spirit of the event.

Taste of Soulard Guide Map

The Mardi Gras Parade is one of the grandest parades in St. Louis. The route takes you down S Broadway from downtown all the way to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. There are beads, floats, drinks, food, and more.

The Mardi Gras Parade in Soulard

After the parade, the carnival continues in the streets and many of Soulard’s bars and restaurants. 

*Pro tip: The party will close down by 8pm, as the city begins cleaning the streets. While it may seem early for some, residents appreciate the early call for a quieter evening.

Trolley Bars 

During the warmer months in Soulard, you’ll often spot trolley bars cruising down the streets, offering patrons a unique experience. 

Soulard trolley bars

Two popular options include Trolley Pub, which takes you on a bar crawl through Soulard, and Cycle Saloon, a BYOB tour through the neighborhood’s streets. These experiences add to Soulard’s lively bar scene and provide a fun way to explore the area with friends.

Art Galleries

Art galleries like Soulard Art Gallery and Gallery on Geyer feature innovative artwork from local artists.

Soulard Art Gallery

Anheuser-Busch Brewery

The North American headquarters for Anheuser-Busch is located just across the I-55 bridge from Benton Park in Soulard on Lynch Street. The brewery features a beer garden and hosts special events and tours throughout the year. 

Anheuser-Busch Brewery

On nice days, visitors might even spot the iconic Clydesdales or Dalmatians hanging out on the grounds.

Don’t miss the annual Brewery Lights event around the holidays.

Soulard annual Brewery Lights

This festive celebration is perfect for both kids and adults, offering a magical experience with dazzling light displays and seasonal activities.

What Else Should You Know About Living In Soulard?

Golf Carts

In Soulard, golf carts are not uncommon to see cruising around the neighborhood, especially during events and festivals. Residents and businesses often use these carts for transportation and deliveries, adding to the area’s unique and eclectic vibe.

Soulard golf carts

 They provide a convenient way to navigate Soulard’s bustling streets, particularly when parking is limited during popular events. 

A Casual Vibe

Soulard has a casual vibe that residents cherish. While you won’t find many upscale restaurants or clubs, that’s exactly how the locals prefer it! Despite the lack of formal venues, Soulard offers high-quality food and drinks in a relaxed atmosphere. 

Soulard Casual Vibe

Is It Safe?

Residents convey feeling safe in Soulard due to the active presence of people throughout the neighborhood. 

However, reports of property damage occur, such as cars parked on the street with handles and side mirrors checked or unlocked cars being rifled through. 

Despite these occasional incidents, Soulard’s strong sense of community often contributes to neighbors looking out for one another and helping ensure neighborhood safety.

Soulard Neighborhood Safe

What Do The Locals Say?

Residents of Soulard enjoy the convenience of walking to various places, the strong sense of community, and the neighborhood’s proximity to other trendy areas. 

However, they acknowledge occasional late-night revelry, particularly near bars in the northern end of Soulard. 

Despite this, many residents believe that the benefits of living in Soulard outweigh any drawbacks, appreciating the vibrant atmosphere and unique charm the neighborhood offers.

Residents of Soulard

Living In A Historic Neighborhood

Ordinances and guidelines safeguard buildings within Federal and Local Historic districts. These regulations aim to preserve the area’s historical and architectural integrity.

Living In A Historic Neighborhood

Residents of Soulard benefit from the presence of the active Soulard Neighborhood Association and the Soulard Restoration Group

These organizations serve as excellent resources for navigating repairs, redevelopments, or new buildings in the area. 

They provide support and guidance to ensure that projects align with the neighborhood’s character and preservation efforts.

Soulard Neighborhood