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10

2017 | Maplewood-Richmond Heights Community Directory

History of Maplewood

In 1825, James C. Sutton purchased 360 acres of land west of the St. Louis city limits

to begin acquiring property for a permanent residence for his family. The Spanish

government had granted the land he purchased to Mr. Charles Gratiot, who sold the

three square miles to Sutton for $1.12 per half acre. Ten years later, Sutton purchased

an additional 120 acres, adjoining his other tract, for $4 per acre.

By the 1890s, Sutton’s heirs,

who had inherited acreage

left by the patriarch of the

family began selling the land

to developers. The subdivisions

that were developed were

desirable to those wanting

an easy commute via

“accommodation” trains on

Manchester Road from their

St. Louis jobs to a more rural

setting. In 1896, the St. Louis

Meramec Railroad Company

began operating a trolley called the “Manchester Line,” which ran from downtown

St. Louis to the Sutton Loop.

By 1904, the business districts on Manchester Road, Sutton Avenue, and

Greenwood Avenue became well established. Through the first part of the century

these areas continued to grow, serving the needs of local residents and those

passing through town.

In January 1908, a fire at the Banner Lumber Company destroyed nine buildings.

Because the citizens felt that the St. Louis City fire companies were not able to

provide sufficient fire protection, the community incorporated as a city in May of

that year. The name Maplewood came from the first subdivision developed in the

area by a St. Louis real estate company.

In 1921, a second trolley loop was built at Yale Avenue called the “City Limits Line”

and began operating north and south routes. Maplewood became a focal point for

travelers from outlying communities. The trolleys ran through Maplewood until

1949, when they were replaced by buses.

The 1940s and ‘50s brought incredible commercial development to Maplewood

featuring numerous national chains. Maplewood took on the appearance of a

bustling metropolis until the popularity of shopping malls in the 1960s and ‘70s

took away the appeal from urban shopping districts across the country.

Today, with the return of preferences for downtown shopping districts, Maplewood,

with its excellent location and supportive residential environment, is again

enjoying the attention it received years ago.