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.


We Vote on November 8?

Were you planning on voting for president on November 1st this year? Were you surprised to find out that the election is actually on November 8th?

Prior to 1845, the federal government did not mandate a presidential election date. States could choose any day as long as it was within the 34 days before the meeting of the Electoral College on the first Wednesday of December. But as travel and communications improved, Congress began to be concerned that states that voted early might affect the results of states that voted later and that voters would travel to different states and vote again.  In 1845, Congress set the date for presidential elections as the first Tuesday in November after the first Monday. The needs of an agrarian society determined the date. November was chosen because it would not interfere with the fall harvest and would be less likely to be affected by winter storms. Tuesday was chosen because farmers would be able to make the long drive into the county seat to vote without having to leave on the Sabbath and they wouldn’t miss the market day on Wednesday.

But why the first Tuesday after the first Monday?  When the first Tuesday is on November 1st, there are more than 34 days before the Electoral College. So Congress added the clause – “after the first Monday.” Now there are always 29 days between the election and the meeting of the Electoral College. Counting this year, there have been 55 presidential elections and only seven have not been on the first Tuesday – 1864, 1892, 1904, 1932, 1960, 1988, and 2016. The next one won’t be until 2044!