I often attend meetings held at the Rowan Community Center, at 1401 Rowan. I always figured it was a commercial space, with it’s high tinned ceilings and corner entrance, but I thought to dig further into exactly what was inside once upon a time.
In 1909, asphalt was laid on Rowan and surrounding streets and that perhaps provided the oomph for Karl Schnell to open a bakery. According to St. Louis Post-Dispatch, rent for the store plus six rooms was $75/month in August of 1909. You can see from the fire insurance map below that the store “S” had an iron clad ceiling “Ir Cl”. K
By 1915, George B. Medell had opened a grocery at 1401 Rowan and lived above with his wife Annie and daughters Irene, Esther, and Alleyne. Another grocer, Thomas Barrett took over by 1923 and the store continued under the name of Barrett’s Market until the mid 1960s. It must have been quite a fixture in the neighborhood – being there for over 40 years. By 1973, 1401 Rowan housed the local chapter of the Congress of African People, chaired by Sister Johari Endesha. The Organization for Black Struggle is the current occupant of 1401 Rowan.
Next time I visit, I’ll have to imagine the smells of the bakery and grocery that provided community to the historical neighborhood just as today’s group does for the current neighborhood.
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.
Engineering and Contracting, Vol. 32. The Myron C. Clark Publishing Co., 1909.
1920 US Census. St Louis Missouri. ED#539.