The Lafayette Square neighborhood, located on the near south perimeter of downtown St. Louis was built, following the end of the Civil War, by noted architects and populated by St. Louis's leaders of the 19th century . The one square mile neighborhood reigned as St. Louis’ most prestigious address featuring Victorian-era mansions for the captains of industry and political leaders, single family townhouses for their management, and more affordable rowhouses for their employees. Centered by Lafayette Park, visitors arrived by the thousands to enjoy public events and concerts and escape the more crowded downtown environment. Those golden days of Lafayette Square came to a close with the event of a destructive tornado in 1896. New residential development moved west and Lafayette Square was left to repair and rebuild and replant on a more modest scale.
The neighborhood settled into serious decline for many years during the first half of the 20th century. Property owners moved out due to an inability to maintain property and pay taxes and due to the decrease in the desirability of Lafayette Square as a place to live and conduct business.
During the 1970s, urban pioneers attracted by the architecture of the still-standing, but often abandoned, VIctorian-era houses reclaimed the neighborhood from absentee landlords and began the long process of restoration and revitalization. These new property owners formed the Lafayette Square Restoration Committee to under-take projects to improve the quality of the neighborhood, encourage people to move into the neighborhood and encourage people to stay in the neighborhood. In 1973, the neighborhood was named the first historic district in St. Louis. This successful effort halted the City’s 1970s plan to demolish most of the eastern section of the neighborhood in favor of building a trucking transfer facility. Throughout the following three decades, these organized efforts prevented more proposed demolition while encouraging investors in reclamation and restoration.
Recently the LSRC led residents and business community representatives through planning and discussion to crystallize the needs and goals for the future of the neighborhood. The outcome resulted in the award-winning Lafayette Square Neighborhood Urban Plan for attracting new business, visitors and residents.
Today Lafayette Square offers the authenticity of historic buildings and the friendly quality of a traditional neighborhood. Its natural environment centered by 30-acre Lafayette Park provides real urban charm, a sociable and walkable place to discover one-of-a-kind restaurants, bars, specialty shops and bed and breakfast inns. The square caters to a hip, urban clientele that appreciates fine wine, gourmet dining and unique shopping adventures. Our historic neighborhood creates comfortable places and vibrant activities to engage people of all ages.
More than 1200 households in single family historic mansions, townhouses and row-houses, brand new condominiums and residential lofts call Lafayette Square home.