It’s not every day you have the chance to live inside a home Henry Shaw built. But that just happens to be the case with a house that hit the market in the Shaw neighborhood. The home at 10 Shaw Place is one of ten in a subdivision developed by the Missouri Botanical Garden founder more than a century ago. It’s so private today, it’s not even accessible on Google street view. Thanks to the listing agent, John Voirol of the John Voirol Group, we’re getting a look inside this historic home with a special connection to the Garden.
Photos courtesy of the John Voirol Group
View the listing and scroll to the end of this post for a video tour of the home.
Full disclosure, the Garden is being a bit of a looky-loo. We’re just here for the history, and are not receiving any compensation for this post, or in conjunction with the sale of the home. As you’ll find out below, the homes on Shaw Place are a unique part of Garden—and St. Louis—history.
When one of the homes goes up for sale, it’s a chance to see and appreciate how that history has been preserved. For instance, tucked behind 10 Shaw Place is a Victorian garden, similar to the formal style highlighted in the Victorian District at the Garden.
Photo courtesy of the John Voirol Group
3 Shaw Place sold in 2016, providing another up-close look at one of the homes on this private street in the Shaw neighborhood—including a picture of the sculpture located in the central courtyard of Shaw Place. This cast iron fountain was added in the 1960s.
Photos courtesy of the John Voirol Group
How Many Homes Did Shaw Own?
Tower Grove House was Henry Shaw’s country home, and the most famous of his dwellings. But it was far from the only residence he owned. Shaw also lived in a townhome on 7th and Locust Streets in downtown St. Louis. It was moved to the Garden, brick-by-brick, after his death. Today, the building houses administrative offices.
Shaw also saw real estate as a way to ensure financial security for his new botanical garden. He owned a number of commercial properties in the bustling riverfront business district that would later become the Gateway Arch grounds.
The Garden founder also made a sizeable attempt to dabble in residential real estate, when he proposed a subdivision of Italianate villas surrounding Tower Grove Park. The concept never took off, but the model home for his idea serves today as the residence for the Park’s director.
However, Shaw was finally able to put his home-building ambitions into effect with the creation of Shaw Place.
Homes with History
The plot chosen for Shaw’s subdivision was at the northeast corner of his vast land holdings. The famous Pictorial St. Louis map by Richard Compton & Camille Dry depicts the area in 1875, just before construction gets underway. It shows just a few scattered homes dotting the fields west of Grand Boulevard and the Compton Hill Reservoir.
Construction on the homes began in 1879, and the last home was finished in 1883. The homes cost between $10,000 and $20,000 to build. The first tenant paid $37.50 in rent, while some of the larger and more ornately decorated homes had rents as high as $55 per month.
As with many of his real estate ventures, Shaw envisioned the income from these properties supporting the Garden financially. In his will, Shaw left the Shaw Place properties to the Garden’s Board of Trustees. He also stipulated several of the homes would be set aside for people close to him. One home was offered to his housekeeper Rebecca Edom, one to his sister Caroline Morisse, and one to another relative.
Shaw Place, circa 1898. From the Missouri Botanical Garden Archives.
The Garden Trustees acted as landlords of the homes for 25 years, but decided to sell the Shaw Place homes in 1915. The entire subdivision sold for $55,000 and a property swap. In exchange for the Shaw Place homes, the Garden acquired three commercial properties on Locust Street valued at $125,000. Those properties were occupied by automotive businesses, including a Studebaker dealership and a Michelin tire store.
Two of the Locust Street Properties acquired from the sale of Shaw Place. Photos from the Missouri Botanical Garden Archives.
In private ownership for many years since being sold by the Garden, the homes were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
The Work of George I. Barnett
The homes on Shaw Place were designed by George Ingham Barnett, one of the preeminent architects of St. Louis in the 1800s. Barnett designed the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis, the Grand Avenue Water Tower, and the Missouri Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City, just to name a few.
The Garden itself is a great place to see Barnett’s work on display, thanks to his close business relationship with Henry Shaw. Barnett designed Tower Grove House, the Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum, the Herring House (Cleveland Avenue Gate House), Shaw’s Mausoleum.
Tower Grove House, Herring House, and Linnean House are among the Garden structures designed by Barnett. Aerial photos by Cassidy Moody.
He also designed the Linnean House and the Piper Palm House and Plant House in Tower Grove Park, along with several other structures found throughout the park. Barnett also designed the former St. Leo’s School in St. Louis—the portico from the now-demolished building adorns the upper level of the Garden’s Shoenberg Temperate House.
Barnett worked on so many projects for Henry Shaw, the Garden founder even included him in his will. Shaw left Barnett a clock, an oil painting, and two of his finest bottles of sherry.
Barnett wasn’t the only big-name local architect on the Shaw Place project. Shaw commissioned the firm of Barnett & Taylor to design the homes in the subdivision. Isaac S. Taylor would go on to be the Architect-in-Chief for the 1904 World’s Fair, and design a number of large office and warehouse buildings in downtown St. Louis.
A receipt from Barnett & Taylor to Henry Shaw for architectural work on 4 homes on Shaw Place. From the Missouri Botanical Garden Archives.
It’s common to be a little curious when a new home hits the market in your neighborhood. And we can’t blame you for wanting a peek inside these normally private homes. But we hope in this case, your curiosity goes beyond kitchen cabinets and square footage. While they may have modern updates, the homes on Shaw Place also have an unmistakable link to the rich history of our city and the Garden. Who knew “For Sale” could say so much more?
Video Tour of 10 Shaw Place
Provided by the John Voirol Group
Cassidy Moody — Senior Digital Media Specialist