St. Louis Piano Companies and Their Beautiful Adverts

Our neglected piano, the one that I learned on and was graciously given to me by my parents, is being tuned next week and I couldn’t be more excited.  I have been lazy musically and was using the sad state of our piano as an excuse, but not anymore.  It’s part of the reclaiming of my creative nature that I’ve been focusing on as of late.  Anyway, it made me think about about pianos in general, then pianos in St. Louis, and wonder if there were any piano factories or dealers here – I’m sure there were and that they made beautiful and creative advertisements.  I’ve been creating a late-Victorian style advertisement for Sherlock Homes and so have those design motifs on the brain too!  (Check out my facebook page to vote on the design)

Here’s what I found:


Wandering Wednesday: photo detective

I recently was sent a batch of photos from my Great Uncle Waldo’s collection – a great assortment of tintypes and 1880s-era photos – ONLY ONE WAS LABELED.  Sigh.  But I love puzzles so I’ve been saving this task as kind of an icing on the cake/reward for myself.  I’d like your help though – let me know if you think I’m on the right track.

On the left is a known photo of Martha Ford Fuller and her husband David Fuller.  I believe the person in the right photo is Martha Ford Fuller.  The earrings are the same in both photos and the hair part and other facial features are similar.  Yes?


The next one isn’t quite as much of a slam dunk:  again, the known photo of David and Martha Ford Fuller next to what I suspect is a younger David Fuller.  The beard/mustache growth looks the same, the hands are similar, the torso bearing is similar, the part of the hair is opposite, but similar (perhaps the photo was reversed?), and if you look closely, the watch fob is similar.  Thoughts?


They get progressively harder, as all puzzles do…   The portrait on the left is known to be Ansel Elifelet Syphers, his second wife Augusta, and their children Ralph, Marion, and George. I believe that Uncle Waldo’s photo on the right are those boys Ralph and George.  Look at the ears and the hair parts and the mouths.  Especially the unusual hair part of the little boy on the right.  What do you think?


Ok, I think this is getting easier as my eyes are getting attuned.  I’m pretty confident about this one.  Don’t know if you can zoom into this one, but the facial expression is the clue.  The family on the left is Addie Mae Syphers Magers and her children, ca 1906 taken in Devises, Kansas.  The right photo is Addie I believe.


I think I’ll take a break and get your comments, then take out the ones that are verified and try again!  Thanks for your help!


Wandering Wednesday: Stories of Eminent Domain

St. Louis has been courting the National Geospace Intelligence Agency to locate it’s headquarters at a 100-acre site in north St. Louis.  The site is touted to bring economic stability to the area but it also houses families and businesses that would have to be removed by eminent domain.  Regardless of the shameless political disregard for the current residents, these buildings have important memories that deserve respect.  Babies born, elders passing on, celebrations, stories of joy and sadness, all have been absorbed by those walls.  So I thought to peek into those windows and share a few of their tales before they are crumbled to dust.

 2526 Montgomery:

Built in 1905 by Otto Williams for his new bride, Miss Pearl Perry.  Otto played baseball for St. Louis, Chicago, and was traded between New Orleans, the Athletics, Altoona outlaws, and Washington club of the American League all in one day!  He also raised pigeons.

Otto Williams 2526 Montgomery

Vander Weyde, W. M. (1904). Portrait of Otto Williams, baseball player [photograph]. Retrieved from George Eastman House

2526 montgomery
2 Feb 1922 Post Dispatch

2540 Benton:

There was a son born to Christopher and Mary Kelly here on March 15, 1888.  His name was James Marion. [22 Mar 1888 Post Dispatch]

2308 Warren:

Eula Brown was given a used 1969 Chevrolet by the New Life Evangelistic Center in 1986.  She stated that it would save her $25 a day in taxi fare to her nursing job in Affton. [3 Dec 1986 Post Dispatch]

2211 Howard:

A surprise birthday party was given to Miss Elsa Nagel by her friends at her home on Oct 21, 1905. [22 Oct 1905 Post Dispatch]

2227 Mullanphy:

A 1940 Chrysler Club Coupe was listed for sale here in 1949 for a ‘reasonable’ price. [9 Mar 1949 Post Dispatch]

image courtesy of Lord_K


2417 Cass:

During the absence of the family at the Veiled Prophet’s parade on Oct 3 1893, burglars entered the residence of Officer Edward Stanley and stole a suit of clothes and some small articles of wearing apparel.  [4 Oct 1893 Post Dispatch]

Wandering Wednesday: Mary Urquhart McRee

This is just a jotting down of an ongoing research project into Mary McRee, landowner of the tract in which McRee City, then McRee Town, then Botanical Heights are situated.  So it is very much a wandering – I hope to put everything together eventually!

Mary Urquart McRee was born in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1829.  I have to kick myself because I just got back from a trip to Wilmington and the outer banks of North Carolina.  I’ll just have to imagine the lines that connected our journey.

Image via NorthCarolina’sFiveOldestTowns

Wandering Wednesday: Myrtle Avenue?

Street names fascinate me.  In each of my house history reports, I include the origins of the street name on which the house sits – it makes for interesting conversation.  In my neighborhood of Shaw, the main ‘business’ thoroughfare used to be called Vandeventer and now is called 39th Street.  I’ve often wondered when the change was made and why.  So I wandered around the Post-Dispatch archives a bit to find out.

Turns out in 1910, there was an effort to rename Vandeventer running from Manchester to Tower Grove Park and the city leaders were deep in debate.  Names of politicians like Zeigenheim, Schutz, and Rombauer were bandied about but there was a strong shout from local residents to name the road “Myrtle Avenue”, after Shaw sweetheart Myrtle Andreas.

Myrtle Avenue
image via 8 Jun 1913 Post-Dispatch,

Myrtle (Andreas) was artistically gifted and was taken out of public school in the sixth grade to be placed in an art school. By the time she was 14, she had her own studio in the back of her father’s pharmacy at 39th & Shenandoah Avenues in south St. Louis, where she taught married ladies to draw and paint. She was almost 18 when she had some of her hand-painted china on display in the Industrial Arts Building at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

Myrtle traveled quite a bit, including a trip to Alaska in 1909, and trips to Cuba and Yellowstone National Park before she married.

In 1912 she married Richard Earl Goyer and settled into being a wife and mother of four children. They lived on a country estate near Overland, Missouri where they raised a cow, chickens, a pony and employed live-in help as Richard was a successful insurance salesman for Equitable Insurance Company.

In 1926 Myrtle divorced Richard for ‘chasing the skirts’. She and her children moved to University City, and after a few moves within the city, she bought a nice home on Gannon Avenue from a builder during the Depression. Myrtle took many jobs and painted everything that was commissioned to support her family. Easter eggs were very successful; one year she painted 144 gross eggs for various businesses. She would paint on flower delivery trucks, petticoats, neckties, walls, metal items, china & glassware…anything that could be painted.

She continued to paint and teach in her later years. One of her eager pupils was her granddaughter Beth who went on to have her own successful art career. Myrtle continued to paint until she was 96 years old, then had a series of strokes and died 6 months later. She is still remembered with love and admiration by friends and family.

— from memorial, Richard Wesley, 16 Aug 2010

After several weeks of debate, the St. Louis City Assembly selected a name that had not been suggested in order to settle the issue.  The street has been known as “39th Street” ever since! (But I think I’ll call it Myrtle to myself from now on)

Wandering Wednesday: Rowan Community Center

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

1401 Rowan
1909 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

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.

Resources: 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.