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.