Development on Chippewa
The renovation was completed in August 2019, and the finished product adds four commercial storefronts to an ever-improving corridor. The neighboring Gooseberries building to the south was renovated within the last 10 years, and construction is underway at the southwest corner of Chippewa & California. These affordable, small-scale retail storefronts range in size from 300 to 600 square feet and provide much-needed space for burgeoning local businesses. Small storefronts have been in high demand on Cherokee and the immediate area, as a way for businesses to grow and get rooted in the community without breaking the bank.
Four of the seven residential units are rent-restricted, dedicating space for low-income households. One of the units is street-level and accessible. All of the apartments will feature Energy Star rated appliances, a washer/dryer in each space, and finishes like solid oak hardwood floors. An access control system at common doors allows for ease of access by tenants and guests, and interior bike storage is provided on the first level.
2755 Chippewa lies within the confines of the Gravois-Jefferson Streetcar Suburb Historic District. Bounded by Gravois, Grand, Meramec, and Jefferson, this 715-acre triangular area was historically a busy transportation corridor, ferrying wagons, streetcars, and other vehicles through the city. A map of the area shows the streetcar lines as they existed in 1945 – two years before this photo of the intersection at Chippewa & California was taken.
Photo by Ray Gehl, courtesy of the Steven Siegerist collection, via Metro St. LouisStreetcar Map
Corkball & Juke Boxes
The building’s history is fraught with scandal and intrigue. An advertisement from 1933 shows the building listed for sale for $40,000. At the time, the building housed 6 commercial and 5 residential spaces along Chippewa & California. Occupants over the decades included taverns, dress shops, construction companies, beauty supply shops, and more.
The longest-standing tenant was Harold’s Tavern, which occupied space in the building at 2755 Chippewa from the 1940s through the 1970s. In 1947, proprietor Harold Plachek was hailed for winning the corkball title for the tavern’s team (corkball, a St. Louis original, was a miniature version of baseball played in alleys as early as 1890). In 1949, Harold Brose, a patron of Harold’s Tavern, was arrested for making “unnecessary noise” by playing a juke box. Just one year later, the building was the site of an alleged lottery press calamity, where Harold Blumenthal was accused of running a $1,300,000-a-year weather lottery ring out of the space at 3746 California.
We aren’t sure why everyone was named Harold.