The library recently had a contest to guess the name or location of several buildings in Webster Groves. Most of the buildings were identified correctly but there were two, the Rock House and Douglass Manor, which stumped several entrants.
The Rock House, which is located at 330 N. Gore, was built in 1852 by Reverend Artemus Bullard for his Webster College for Boys. Edward Avery ran the school after Bullard’s death in 1855 in the Gasconade River train disaster, but the school did not do well in the turmoil leading up to the Civil War and it closed. In 1864, the property was sold to the Western Sanitary Commission to be used as a soldiers’ orphans’ home. Five years later the Western Sanitary Commission merged with St. Louis Protestant Orphan’s Asylum and by 1876, it was caring for 110 children. The building was destroyed down to the stone walls on Thanksgiving Day, 1910 and rebuilt in 1911 but without its original Italianate character. In 1943, the organization’s name was changed to Edgewood Children’s Center. Today it is Great Circle, a school and children’s services organization that was formed in 2009 by the merger of Boys & Girls Town of Missouri and Edgewood Children’s Center.
Originally Douglass Elementary School, Douglass Manor Apartments is a 41-unit apartment building located at 546 N. Elm Avenue. It was built in 1947 on the property of Joseph Mitchell, the founder of the first African-American newspaper in St. Louis, the St. Louis Argus. Until segregation became illegal in 1954, it served the African-American students of north Webster Groves. From the late 1960’s until it closed in 1978 due to decreasing enrollment in the district, it was a highly successful demonstration school. After extensive renovation, it was rededicated in 1983 as an apartment building.