LaSalle Park History
LaSalle Park is an integral part of the three-neighborhood "Old Frenchtown" area — LaSalle Park, Lafayette Square, and Soulard — bordering the southern edge of downtown St. Louis. It was formed as a "new neighborhood," distinct from the larger Soulard district, through the efforts of Ralston Purina, which has its world headquarters in LaSalle Park, and The City of St. Louis. In March 1969, 137 acres were declared blighted and the St. Louis Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority applied for a federal planning grant to rehabilitate the neighborhood.
Federal funds were approved for redeveloping LaSalle Park in 1971. Brick sidewalks, extensive landscaping, and street lamps designed to mirror those that were in the neighborhood many years ago were installed.
Property throughout the neighborhood was sold in early 1976 to both individuals and developers who were willing to restore homes and businesses or to build "in-fill" houses. These structures are so named because they are designed and built to match or resemble the surrounding architecture. Through the efforts of Ralston Purina and the City of St. Louis, an Urban Renewal Plan and Guidelines for upholding the integrity of the neighborhood's properties were established.
The neighborhood continues to operate and maintain its distinctive architectural design and character through a revision of this urban plan.
LaSalle Park contains a mixture of Victorian and Federalist architecture. At least two of the homes in this French neighborhood were built at the time of the Civil War. New construction is also found in the neighborhood. The current urban renewal guidelines, approved by the City of St. Louis, require that all new construction be built in a style similar to and compatible with the existing architecture.
The LaSalle Park Neighborhood enjoys Federal Historic Status with homes that are considered to have neighborhood, city, state, and national architectural significance. Plans were filed by Ralston Purina Co. and Landmarks Association of St. Louis, Inc. in 1977 (revised in 1979, 1980, 1982) to establish the historic importance of the neighborhood architecturally.