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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html


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The Advance of Real Estate in St. Louis.

THE rise of real estate in St. Louis has been so fabulous that it has become a theme of wonder and interest. We could not make this history complete did we not give some account of the progressions; and to make the relation more varied, more extensive, more authentic, and interesting, we have solicited the aid of those gentlemen that are known to the community, as most conversant with all of its features; and, without comment or alteration, we give to our readers the communications which have been addressed to us relative to our inquiries.

No effort on our part could have so effectually gathered this most useful information, and these communications will form a most interesting portion of our work. We are indebted for the following communications to

WILLIAM Louis A. LEBAUME,
President of Gas-Light Company.

Dr. J. W. HALL,
Large owner of real estate.

J. G. BARRY,
Ex-Mayor of St. Louis.

JOHN CASEY,
Large owner of real estate.

BELT & PRIEST,
Real Estate Agents.

WILLIAM RISLEY,
County Treasurer.

HENRY W. WILLIAMS,
Attorney at law, and extensively engaged in real estate practice.

"ST. LOUIS, March 24th, 1860.

"DEAR SIR: — In compliance with your request, I have tried to bring to mind as far as I could the value of real estate in this city during the past forty-two years. I have not been a speculator in lands, but have bought for my own use. In the year 1822 I purchased a lot on Third street, between Plum and Cedar streets, 75 feet front by 150 in depth, for the sum of $225 the lot. In the year 1846 I sold the same lot for $3,000, and it is now held at a bid of $17,000. In 1834 I bought a lot on Main street, between Spruce and Myrtle streets, 40 feet front, running to the river bank, for $350; and in 1852 I sold it, with a two-story house on it, for $10,000. The same property is now worth $35,000. In 1845 I bought a lot on Second street, between Lombard and Hazel streets, 150 feet front, running to the river, for $800; and in 1855 I sold one-third of it for $42,000, and held the balance at $100,000. In 1849 I bought a house and lot on Walnut street, between Sixth and Seventh streets, for $6,000. In 1856 I was offered $15,000 for it. I have known similar sales.

"Yours truly, "W. RISLEY."

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"ST. LOUIS, March 6th, 1860.

"DEAR SIR: — I have been trying to remember some sales which might have taken place many years ago, and therefore interest you, as showing the rise in the price of property in St. Louis.

"I remember in 1834 I bought from Benjamin Lawhead some ground on what is now Second street, east side, between Locust and Olive streets, for $150 per foot, which is now valued at $1,500 or $2,000 per front foot. Recently, in 1850, I bought where I now reside, on Chouteau avenue, a $40 per foot front. It is now supposed to be worth $150 or $200 per foot. I have known various instances where ground has been sold for from $50 to $100 per foot, which is now worth from $1,000 to $2,000 per foot. In fact, the whole town is nothing but an illustration of the sudden rise of property, and consequently the sudden enrichment of the owners of the property. I was once offered ground on the corner of Main and Spruce streets for $15 per foot. I wanted to purchase it for a peach-orchard, but did not do so. It is now worth $700 or $600 per foot. I remember in the year 1832 or 1833 ground fronting on Fourth and Fifth streets, south of Gratiot street, that I declared positively I would not have the ground for a gift, the then owner to make me a deed for the land and put it on record. It is now worth $300 and $400 per front foot.

"I remember I was one of three commissioners appointed by the Corporation to sell city commons purely and solely as the ordinance provided, for agricultural purposes. We sold land (I then called it giving away), some for say $15 per acre; it is now worth in some instances $50 per front foot. There was one instance we sold land in the commons for $1,500 per acre; it is now worth, on the corner of Parke avenue and St. Ange avenue, $125 per front foot.

"I remain, sir, very respectfully,
"JAMES G. BARRY."

"ST. LOUIS GAS-LIGHT COMPANY, ST. LOUIS, Feb. 9th, 1860.

"DEAR SIR: — At your request I refresh my memory to give you, as far as I can in my opinion, the value of property in St. Louis for some twenty-five to thirty-five years back. The first sale which I can recollect was made by grandmother Dubruil, of a lot on the corner of Second and Pine streets, 70 feet front by 150 deep, to M. Papin, for $700. This was, I think, in 1822 or 1823. My mother bought in 1822 or 1823 a lot 70 feet front by 150 in depth, corner of Second and Olive streets, south-west corner, with good stone house, log kitchen, barn and good fences, all for $1,500. The above are now worth from $1,500 to $2,000 per foot.

"In 1826 my grandmother's property on Second street, block 61, I believe between Chesnut and Pine streets, was sold by the administrator, 50 feet, corner Second and Chesnut by 150, for $10 per foot. The remainder, about 18 feet, with a first-rate stone house and kitchen, was bought in by my mother for benefit of estate for $3,000, and sold by her to Mr. Gay in 1830 or 31 for the same price — so that property had not risen in that locality from 1826 to 1831. Property even in the business parts of the city had but a nominal value till about 1832 to 1833. It may have commenced rising a little in 1831, but so slightly that it was not noticeable, and it did not really seem to rise till 1835. From this period it went up

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in the business parts of the town pretty rapidly till 1838 or 1839 — the commencement of bank disasters. From that period to 1842-3, though there may have been no fall, there was no demand, and, to my knowledge, no sales.

"In 1836 or 1837 I heard Mr. Lucas offer land about Lucas Place for $200 an acre. He sold lots to Benoist, Bogy and others on Eighth street, between Pine and Locust streets, for $10 per foot.

"After the crash of the banks, from 1837 to 1841, property had but a nominal value; it commenced rising about 1842 or 1843, and went up gradually till 1845, from which time it improved more rapidly, till the great fire in 1849. From the latter date it rose very fast to the present time, and still continues rising, notwithstanding the cry of croakers to the contrary; and, in my humble judgment, will continue onward till the great valley of the Mississippi is filled up and densely populated. Country property rose but little until the building of plank and macadamized roads, but went up magically after the commencement of our railroads.

"To resume, in my opinion, there was but an imperceptible, if any rise in property in the city till 1834 or 1835, when it continued to rise slowly till the great crash in 1838 or 1839. It went up again about 1842 or 1843, slowly, till 1849, and from that period to date very rapidly.

"Hoping the above may add a little light to your valuable researches, I remain, dear sir, yours truly and respectfully,
"LOUIS A. LABAUM."

"ST. LOUIS, March 29th, 1860.

"DEAR SIR: — In reply to your inquiries concerning the rise of real estate in this city, accept this hastily-prepared schedule of facts.

"In 1818, a lot on the west side of Main street, between Locust and Olive streets, having a front on Main street of 65 feet, and running through to Second street, was purchased for $1,800; in 1857, a part of the same property, having a front on Main street of 43 feet, and running west to the alley 140 feet, back not quite half the western width of the lot, was sold for $1,275 per front foot — about $56,000.

"In 1836, property was offered on the corner of Eighth and Pine streets for $10 per foot, but there were no bids for it, every one thinking that the price was greatly beyond the intrinsic value of the property, as all west of Eighth street was at that time a common.

"In 1839, the eastern half of the block on which the Planters' House stands was sold for $150 per foot, fronting on Fourth street. The price was regarded as ruinous to the purchaser. The property is now worth, without improvement, $1,500 per front foot.

"As late as 1849, previous to the great fire, the most desirable property on Main street would not bring more than $300 per front foot.

"In 1851, during autumn, Stoddard's Addition was sold. Property on the corner of Locust and Beaumont streets was then sold for $15 per foot; on the corner of Washington and Garrison avenues for $5 74 per foot; on the corner of Franklin and Ewing avenues for $15 per foot; on the corner of Lucas and Leffingwell avenues for the same price; and other parts of the Addition, not having the advantage of a corner locality, at lower figures. Nine years have elapsed, and the same property will now readily bring from $65 to $100 per foot.

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"In 1827, on Second street, corner of Chesnut and Pine, J. Francis Chouteau sold seventy-two feet front by one hundred and fifty, running west, to Pierre Didier Chouteau for $800; in 1858 the same property was sold by the heirs of Papin to Edward J. Gay for $1,080 per foot, each foot then bringing more than the whole seventy-two feet in 1827. On this lot stand Gay's marble buildings.

"Very respectfully,
"BELT & PRIEST,
"Real Estate Agents, 41 Chesnut street."

"ST. Louis, March 9th, 1860.

"DEAR SIR: — I will try to comply with your request in relation to the relative value of property in St. Louis during the last few years.

"I will give you the facts of a few prominent points, by which you will be able to judge of intermediate points.

"Early in 1840, property on the corner of Fifth and Market streets sold for $100 per foot; the same will now readily sell for $1,000 per foot.

"In 1840 I bought lots on Olive street, between Seventh and Eighth streets, at $40 per foot, which would now sell for $350 per foot. About this time I could have bought of Judge J. B. C. Lewis property on Olive street, between Eleventh and Twelfth streets, for $10 per foot, which is now worth $300 per foot. And on the same street, between Fifteenth and Sixteenth streets, $5 per foot is now worth $200 per foot.

"In 1842-3 property sold in Christy's Addition, west of the St. Louis University, between Twelfth and Sixteenth streets and Christy avenue, at from $4 to $10 per foot. The same would sell to-day for from $125 to $200 per foot.

"In 1843-4, on Franklin avenue, and south of it, in Mills' Addition, property sold about Twenty-third street at from $3 to $5 per foot, is now worth from $50 to $75 per foot.

In the neighborhood of the market on Seventh street, property could have been bought in 1844 at from $10 to $20 per foot. The same will now sell for from $250 to $300 per foot. Looking southwardly, property sold about this time at a very low figure, but has rapidly risen to figures quite as high as in any other direction.

"From 1840 to 1850 the tendency was north. About 1850 a very rapid advance took place to the south and south-west. From about 1854 to 1860 a great rush took place to the north-west, in the direction of Fair Grounds.

"North St. Louis, about Bremen, toward 1850 began to make rapid strides.

"In 1849 Lowell was first offered. It had been bought, only one year before, for about $200 per acre. In May, 1849, it sold for from $5 to $10 per foot on Bellefontaine road. It is now selling at from $20 to $30 per foot, or about from $4,000 to $5,000 per acre.

"Thus, if you take a stand-point about the court-house, you will find the progress resulting about the same, though something in favor of the northward. Westwardly you will find quite an equal advance.

"In Stoddard's Addition, which is only about ten years old, property sold at from $5 to $20 per foot. It will now sell at from $50 to $125 per foot.

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"As you will observe, the wave of progress has fluctuated in every direction, first in one and then in another, but finally it gains an equilibrium, as things have become established.

"Thus you will see that those who invest money in St. Louis have only to wait a little, and a short time brings about vast results. And the only way to judge of the future is to look at the past; according to this rule the destiny of St. Louis is bound to be the great central city of the United States.

"Truly yours,
"W. HALL."

"CARONDELET, March 12th 1860.

"DEAR SIR: — I have endeavored to recollect a few instances which have occurred within my knowledge for the last thirty years as to the advance in the value of real estate in the city of St. Louis.

"I purchased of B. A. Soulard in 1843 a piece of property on Carondelet avenue, now Nos. 12 and 14, four doors this side of Park avenue, for $2,400, on which there were two brick dwellings, considered worth the amount paid for the whole property, 40 feet front by 140 in depth, for which I have been offered recently $9,000.

"I also bought of Edward Leavy a piece of property on the corner of Thirteenth street and Franklin avenue in 1843 for $850, on which there was a two-story frame building, now paying an annual rent of $850, 26 feet front by a depth of 107 feet. The above property was cultivated as a corn-field in 1840. This property is now worth $250 per foot.

"I bought of John Loane in July, 1848, a piece of property on the south side of Morgan street, between Twelfth and Thirteenth streets, 26 feet front by a depth of 144 feet to Orange street, on which there was a two-story brick building, for $1,800, now yielding a monthly rent of $60, and worth now at least $250 per front foot.

"I bought in October, 1849, a piece of property 83 feet front by a depth of 147 feet on the corner of Christy avenue and Nineteenth street, which cost about $45 per front foot. It could be readily sold now for from $125 to $150 per foot.

"I was present at a sale made in 1832 or 1833 on Main street, where Murdoch & Dickson now keep their auction room. The property sold on that clay was bid off to A. Kerr, of the house of J. & A. Kerr, at $70 per front foot, running back to Commercial street, and could now, I presume, be sold for $2,000 per foot.

"Respectfully,
"JOHN CASEY."

"ST. Louis, April 5th, 1860.

"DEAR SIR: — Assuming that you do not expect any thing more than ‘personal recollections’ in the statement which you have requested me to make in reference to the enhancement in value of real estate in St. Louis and its vicinity, I proceed to give you a few items.

"My acquaintance with the property of St. Louis commenced in the year 1844. The population of the city was then estimated at 40,000, the previous census, taken in 1840, showing only 16,649. This remarkable increase of nearly twenty-four thousand in four years appears to have had but slight effect upon the value of real estate, as property could have been purchased by the acre at that date in almost any direction from the

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court-house, a mile and a half distant from that point, at from $200 to $300 per acre.

"In 1843-4 a very large amount of the land owned by the city, known as the Common, was disposed of at an average of less than $50 per acre. The amount originally owned by the city was 4,293 arpens. In 1836 the city was authorized by the legislature to sell the same. The sale amounted to $425,000, or nearly $100 per arpen. The purchasers imagined, however, that they had agreed to pay too much, and neglected to make their payments. Their rights were consequently declared forfeited, and the city, in 1843, proceeded to sell to other parties. In the year 1850, all of the lands owned by the city, save about 600 acres, had been disposed of, and at that date the total amount received by the city treasury for the lands sold was $163,080! The land so sold is now worth not less than $25,000,000! In the same year, the president of the Board of Assessors valued the unsold portions of the commons — 591 acres — at $581,391. He also valued the other real estate of the city at $753,913, making the total value of the real estate then owned by the city $1,335,304. In the year 1857, after the city had sold to the amount of about $1,500,000, the land register reported the value of real estate and improvements then belonging to the city at $15,919,856 63!

"In 1843, the City Council passed an ordinance limiting the sale of the Commons at not less than $25 per acre!

"In 1847, I purchased 9 70/100 acres in block No. 66 of the Commons, for $6,500, with improvements worth not less than $4,000, and was rallied by some of my friends, who regarded it as an extravagant price. Three years later I sold it at $13,500, and the same land cannot now be purchased for $75,000. In the same year I purchased 4 85/100 acres in block No. 75 of the Commons for $900, on three years' time, without interest. $9,000 has recently been offered and refused for the same tract. In the same year (1847) a friend was offered a tract fronting on Lafayette Park, with a comfortable frame-house, and well improved with fruit-trees, shrubbery, &c., for $2,800. He declined to purchase, stating that it was ‘too far out in the woods.’ The same tract is worth at the present time not less than $40,000.

"In the year 1848, Daniel D. Page, Esq., sold to Mr. David H. Armstrong a tract of twelve acres in the southern part of the city, north of the arsenal, at $200 per acre, amounting to $2,400; the same tract is worth at this date not less than $100,000.

"In 1846, the great statesman, Henry Clay, visited St. Louis. He owned, with his son, James B. Clay, the tract known as ‘Clay's old orchard tract,’ and desired to sell it. He advertised a sale to take place at the Court House — 275 arpens to be divided into tracts of from five to forty acres, to suit purchasers. On the day of sale, he made a few remarks to the assembled crowd, and concluded by reserving a single bid for himself. Some of the choice land in the tract was then offered, and the highest bid that could be obtained was the reserved bid of Mr. Clay, which, by the advice of Judge Can, he fixed at $120 per acre. No person being willing to purchase at that high figure, the sale closed, after which Mr. Clay offered the whole tract at $100 per acre. In 1849 sixty or seventy arpens of the tract were sold at an average of $250 per acre. In 1853, about sixty acres were sold at an average of $450 per acre; in

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1857, sixty-five arpens were sold at an average of $1,050 per acre; and in 1859, four arpens, with improvements worth about $1,200, were sold for $9,000, being about $2,000 per acre.

"In 1844, there were but very few buildings beyond Tenth street. Nearly all the property west of that line was in acres, but a very small portion of it having been subdivided into lots. The city limits extended to about Seventeenth street. About the year 1850 or 1851, the sub-divisions had reached the city limits, and commenced to go beyond. Messrs. Leffingwell & Elliott were at this time engaged in getting up a correct map of St. Louis and its vicinity. They projected the street now represented as Grand avenue as the western boundary of the future city. It was originally designed to be 120 feet wide, to extend from north to south a distance of about eleven miles, and at one point over three miles from the river or eastern boundary of the city. The space between the old city line and the proposed ‘Grand avenue,’ as represented upon the map, looked exceedingly blank, and the very large territory embraced afforded good grounds for the belief which many persons entertained that the city never could reach Grand avenue.

"Many persons believed, and were not backward in expressing their opinions, that Messrs. Leffingwell & Elliott were exceedingly wild and visionary in their views as to the future of St. Louis. Time, however, has proven those views to be correct. Mr. Elliott, in a very able article, based upon the increase of St. Louis during previous years, predicted that the population in 1860 would number 175,000.

"The present census returns will show that he was short of the mark, although, at the date of his prediction, there were but few who regarded it as oracular.

"A glance at the recent editions of Mr. Leffingwell's map will demonstrate that even Grand avenue is not to limit the westward march of our city. Nearly all the ground east of Grand avenue has been subdivided, sold, and a very large proportion of it improved. The city limits have been extended to Grand avenue and ten chains beyond it, and subdivisions are constantly being made beyond the city line.

"To return, however, to the statements you desire in regard to the increase in the value of real estate.

"In 1847, Colonel René Paul offered me ground on Chouteau avenue, just west of Eighth street, at $10 per foot, on ten years' credit, with interest at six per cent. The same ground is now selling at from $150 to $175 per foot.

"In 1845, the ground on Fourteenth street, between Market street and Clark avenue, was sold at prices averaging about $12 per front foot. It is now worth at least $150 per foot.

"In 1851, the highest prices obtained in Stoddard's Addition was $26 75/100 per foot, and the average was about $15 per foot. At the present time property which then sold for $10, commands readily $125 per foot.

"Many other instances might be cited, showing an increase in the value of the real estate of the city, of from thirty to fifty per cent. per annum; but I have already wearied your patience, and close, regretting that the pressure of business has prevented my giving you a more connected and coherent statement of my ‘recollections.’

"Respectfully yours,
"HENRY W. WILLIAMS.

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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html
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