A Brief History

The Shaw neighborhood began as a clearing the French called Prairie des Noyers. Much of this expansive natural prairie was purchased by Louisville’s Captain William Chambers in 1816. About the same time, the prairie captivated Henry Shaw, a young man of 19 seeking his fortune. He bought his piece in 1840 to the north and west of Chambers and there he built his country home, Tower Grove House. He also began planning and installing his magnificent garden, now known as the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Henry Shaw began dabbling in residential development building Shaw Place, which was a re-creation of a streetscape reminiscent of his childhood in England. The architectural firm of George I. Barnett designed these houses as a model and standard for the homes Shaw wanted to see built around his garden. They also served as rental property, the proceeds benefiting the Garden. When Captain Chambers died, he left his property to his daughter, Mary Tyler, who sold it in the 1890’s to a Kansas City developer. Tyler’s 235 acres became “Tyler Place, a bon ton neighborhood.” Flora Place was the showcase of the area. Its lots sold for $55-65 per front foot.

The entrance gates to the 1897 Flora Place were built at a cost of $9,500. That was $5,500 more than the first home’s sale price. Growth spread in all directions, and many styles of architecture flourished over the ensuing 30 years as Shaw became a fully urban neighborhood.

–Image: “Pictorial St. Louis,” by Camille N. Dry (1875), Library of Congress