Saturday, June 1, 2013

Scenes from Opening Day for North City Farmers’ Market’s 7th Season

Although Friday night’s storms and early Saturday morning rain threatened to put a damper on the opening day celebration for North City Farmers’ Market’s 2013 season, we still managed to enjoy a great day INSIDE Old North St. Louis Restoration Group’s Gallery at 2700 N. 14th Street.

For more photos, check out the album on the North City Farmers’ Market Facebook page by clicking HERE.

Come back EVERY Saturday, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  If it’s clear outside, the market will be in the street, along the 2700 block of N. 14th Street (across from Crown Candy); if it’s raining, we’ll be back in the gallery at 2700 N. 14th Street.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Scenes from a Day-Long Celebration of a Neighborhood Revitalization in Progress

Thank you to all of our volunteers, sponsors, vendors, and musicians who participated in some capacity at yesterday’s Old North House & Community Tour, and special thanks to the the business-owners, homeowners and tenants who opened their homes or businesses to let hundreds of visitors wander through over the course of the day.

By all measures, the day was a great success.

Mayor Slay met neighborhood residents while attending the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Sustainable Land Lab projects.

The day started with the formal kick-off of the Sustainable Land Lab projects (re-scheduled from the rained out date in April), including a presentation to the 3 runner up projects and the 5 teams that were selected to implement their proposals on 4 lots in the Crown Square area.

Pablo Moyano Fernandez and Old North residents Gloria & Tom Bratkowski represented Hybrid Urban Bioscapes project.

Pablo Moyano Fernandez and Old North residents Gloria & Tom Bratkowski represented Hybrid Urban Bioscapes project.

After the start of the tour, the celebration continued at the corner of N. 14th Street and St. Louis Avenue, where representatives from Old North St. Louis Restoration Group and RHCDA (co-owners / co-developers of the corner lot, which is part of the overall Crown Square redevelopment of the former 14th Street Pedestrian Mall) thanked Rebuilding Together St. Louis for coordinating the improvements to the corner plaza space, including the addition of tables with umbrellas, construction of the fence along the south and west sides of the space, new plantings, and the addition of a stage for public performances.  Also acknowledged were the many volunteers, including many from Scottrade and Equifax, financial support from Equifax and Regional Business Council, and contributed professional services from Sherwoods Forest, Kimberlin Construction, and IBEW-Local 1.

Neighbors from down the street came out to celebrate the first official event at the new & improved Crown Square corner plaza.

Dave Ervin, Executive Director of Rebuilding Together St. Louis, and RTSL’s Outreach Coordinator, Kuleya Bruce, acknowledged our appreciation and thanked all who helped them with the project before introducing local musician, Chris Ware for the first official performance on the stage.

Environmentally friendly shuttle service was provided by St. Louis 3 Wheel Taxi.

Volunteers, including Nolan (below), provided a variety of valuable services, including merchandise sales.

And the tour provided an opportunity to show off the diverse range of housing styles in Old North, from apartments to a loft-style conversion of a former warehouse (below).

And a number of number of historic houses…

The soon-to-come Chess Pocket Parkat 2713 N. 14th Street offered the opportunity to try out some chess moves throughout the day.

Another tour tradition is free ice cream, thanks to the generous donation from Crown Candy Kitchen.

Norah Ryan returned for the critical role of scooper and dispenser of ice cream.

The kickoff activities at the 5 Land Lab projects included:

The Sunflower+ project at 1318 Warren

Children from the neighborhood joined the Sunflower+ project coordinators in planting of sunflowers and other work at the project site.

The Mighty Mississippians at 1300-06 Montgomery

The Bistro Box at 1301-03 Montgomery

RR Farm, also at 1301-03 Montgomery

and Chess Pocket Park at 2713 N. 14th Street

Friday, May 17, 2013

One Last Invite to Join Us TOMORROW (Sat., May 18) for Old North House & Community Tour… AND Announcing Another Crown Square Commercial Tenant

We’re down to the last few hours before the big day, so we’ll issue one last invitation to all friends of Old North, former residents, current residents, fans of urban revitalization, advocates for sustainable development, historic preservationists, arts enthusiasts, and anyone who just happens to like Crown Candy Kitchen: please join us on Saturday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for our annual Old North House & Community Tour. The forecast shows beautiful weather for tomorrow.  Come on out to enjoy a pleasant stroll though the walkable, architecturally rich, historic neighborhood of Old North St. Louis.

The hour by hour forecast from the experts at

It'll be a gorgeous day in Old North on Saturday, according to the hour by hour forecast from the experts at

For those who are new to St. Louis or just aren’t familiar with how neighborhood house tours work, here’s what you can expect from the Old North House & Community Tour:

The Old North House & Community Tour is a self-guided tour, so you’ll be able to use our tour booklet to decide which stops to visit and in what order - or you can visit all of the sites on the tour in the order presented in the booklet.  And, you’ll be able to go at your own pace, whether that means enjoying the nice, summery weather as you walk leisurely between stops or as you catch a free ride from one of the roving, environmentally- friendly bicycle rickshaws from St. Louis 3Wheel Taxi.

For more on what will be featured on the tour, take a look at our posts from Thursday (click HERE) and Tuesday (click HERE).

Registration for the tour - where you can buy tickets, trade in your already-bought tickets for the tour booklet or pick up tickets you purchased online - will be at the new and improved Crown Square corner plaza at the southwest corner of St. Louis Avenue and N. 14th Street, pictured below.

The first official performances on the plaza’s stage will take place immediately following a brief dedication ceremony at 10:30 a.m.   Scheduled to perform are local musician, poet, and spoken-word artist, Chris Ware, and later by Old North’s own favorite steel drum musician, Jamaica Ray.

We also want to share the reminder that the public is invited to celebrate the official start of work at the 5 Sustainable Land Lab projects in Old North, with a ceremony scheduled for 9 a.m. at 1318 Warren (just east of 14th Street at the south end of Crown Square).  Mayor Slay will be on hand to congratulate the winners of the competition, and representatives from all 5 of the projects will be present to show off their sites and discuss their projects.

Although the “day-of” ticket prices of $12 should go into effect after midnight, the advance ticket price of $10 can still be obtained by purchasing online up until about 6 a.m.  So act now!

And, now for some other big news we’re thrilled to share…



Earlier today, Firecracker Press issued the following press release:

The Firecracker Press is excited to announce, in addition to its location at 2838 Cherokee Street, the expansion of a second location at 2612 North 14th Street, in Crown Square. The expansion will take place over the Summer of 2013 with a Grand Opening to be announced later this year.

Founded in St. Louis in 2002, The Firecracker Press has become a cultural institution for printmaking. With a gang of antique printing presses (some dating back to the 1800s), a rich collection of St. Louis printing history, and a talented group of designers and printers, The Firecracker Press has made its mark regionally and nationally. Handmade, letterpress posters for music and art shows, custom business cards, stationery, wedding invitations, and books are just a few of the things that The Firecracker Press crafts. Using printing presses that are found and restored, The Firecracker Press prints from hand-set wood/lead type and uses hand-carved woodblocks to create imagery that’s rooted in history yet freshly modern. Its Southside, Cherokee Street location will remain while The Firecracker Press plans to expand a rotating list of events, classes and demonstrations at the new Crown Square location.

The Firecracker Press location in Old North will be in the former Sobel Department Store building at 2612-24 N. 14th Street.

Their announcement further describes their plans for the space in the heart of Old North, just across Montgomery from Old North St. Louis Restoration Group’s office:

The new space, nearly 8000 sq. ft., will host a large collection of printing presses and tools, a retail storefront with a variety of posters and design-related home-goods, and a 100 person capacity venue for music, readings, and events. The Firecracker Press will continue to offer the same high quality, unique, independently minded services that have made them well-known. The expansion will also bring the opportunity to collaborate with other organizations including Old North Restoration Group and its affiliates, and with Studio STL, which will be sharing a portion of the space for its non-profit, children’s writing programs. The publishing arm of The Firecracker Press dovetails in exciting ways with the mission of Studio STL. An arts center for writers, thinkers, and makers will grow where The Firecracker Press and Studio STL overlap, with more to come.

For more details about The Firecracker Press and their plans for the space at Crown Square, click HERE to read the full news release.

The leasing of 2612-24 N. 14th Street follows the recent leasing of 2606-08 N. 14th to Blackmun Footcare, which opened just last month, and the leasing of 2601 N. 14th to Kennedy’s Pet Shop, which is now in the midst of interior build-out.  Both Blackmun Footcare and Kennedy’s Pet Shop will be open for tours on Saturday.

With just a few spaces left, anyone interested in leasing commercial space at Crown Square should contact leasing agent Susan Sauer of Duffe-Nuernberger Realty by phone at 314-571-7654 or by email at

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Old North House & Community Tour: 2 Days Away to Sat., May 18

We’re down to counting the hours now until our biggest event of the year - so any help you can offer in spreading the word about the Old North House & Community Tour would be greatly appreciated, and you still have time to let us know if you can volunteer to help out on the day of the tour.

If you still aren’t subscribed to receive our e-Newsletter, then you probably missed our most recent edition.  Click on the image below or click HERE to view the web version.  Once you’re there, be sure to click on the Facebook “Like” image and/or the Twitter “tweet” image to share via these social media tools.

We also have some updates on what else will be going on here on Saturday.

At 9:00 a.m., Mayor Slay and the organizers responsible for the Sustainable Land Lab competition will lead the official kick-off ceremonies marking the start of work at the 5 Land Lab projects in Old North.  This ceremony will start at 1318 Warren (as seen in the photo above, courtesy of Washington University’s Office of Sustainable Development), the site where the Sunflower + project is underway, and will then travel to the other 3 Land Lab lots.  Please join us for this celebration just prior to the start of the Old North House & Community Tour.

At 10 a.m., the House & Community Tour officially begins, with registration table at N. 14th & St. Louis Avenue (see photo below) opening to distribute tour booklets to those who’ve registered in advance or to sell tour tickets (at the day-of price of $12) and the environmentally-friendly, bicycle rickshaw shuttle service will start up for those who don’t want to walk between the stops.

At 10:30 a.m., we’ll celebrate the ceremonial, unveiling / ribbon-cutting of the recently improved Crown Square corner plaza, followed by performances on the new stage by local musician, poet, and spoken-word artist, Chris Ware, and later by Old North’s own favorite steel drum musician, Jamaica Ray.

The tour activities will continue until 4 p.m., featuring 20 stops, 4 of which are located in historically rehabbed buildings at Crown Square, including a residential apartment incorporating a portion of the mezzanine level of the former J.C. Penney building (originally built for the Peters Dry Goods & Clothing Co. in 1881), the recently-opened Blackmun Footcare in that same building, and the soon-to-open Kennedy’s Pet Shop at 2601 N. 14th (in the photo above).

Other stops include:

  • the 4 empty lots where 5 Sustainable Land Lab demonstration projects are being implemented;
  • 2 other businesses offering free treats to tour-goers, La Mancha Coffeehouse, which is offering free cups of coffee, and City Bar & Grill, which is offering free toasted ravioli;
  • 2 historically-rehabbed homes, which have won Landmarks Association “Most Enhanced” Awards in previous years (in addition to the Crown Square project, which also received one of these awards in 2010);
  • a “loft-style” conversion of a warehouse building into a living space and a separate sculpture studio;
  • a couple of historic houses that are still in the midst of major re-construction and rehabilitation after massive damage, from a fire at one and two-different storms at the other, that would have led to demolition in other neighborhoods;
  • the future home in Old North for the Episcopal Service Corps community later this year;
  • the Old North Grocery Co-op and 13th Street Community Garden;
  • the home of Northside Workshop, a community art space that opened last year; and
  • the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group office and Gallery, where a new photography exhibit will have its opening on Saturday; this exhibit, titled “Revitalizing,” features photos from 6 neighborhoods (including Old North), where UMSL’s PPRC Photography Project worked with community residents.

As noted in Tuesday’s post, another tradition of this event is the treat of some ice cream from Crown Candy Kitchen (celebrating 100 years of service to Old North).  All tour-goers will receive a coupon for a free ice cream cup, redeemable at the Old North Gallery.

If you haven’t already clicked on the link above, click below to get your tickets while you can still take advantage of the advance ticket price of $10.

And, if for whatever reason, you’re still not convinced that something special is going on in Old North St. Louis, take another look at the YouTube video we prepared before last year’s tour to highlight the dramatic transformations in progress throughout Old North.

We look forward to seeing you again in Old North on Saturday!

[One last appeal: if you've got some time available and are willing to help out, we still could use a few more volunteers.  Give us a call at the ONSLRG office at 314-241-5031 or send an email to Claire Wolff:]

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Old North House & Community Tour Countdown: 4 Days Away

With just 4 days to go until the Old North House & Community Tour on Saturday, May 18, now is the time to take advantage of the advance ticket price of $10.  Purchase your tickets online by clicking HERE or give the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group office a call at 314-241-5031.

In addition to the architecturally significant, historic buildings on the tour (a sampling of which can be seen in the collage above), this year’s event will show off the five Sustainable Land Lab projects being implemented on 4 empty lots within the Crown Square area.  Preceding the official start of the Old North House & Community Tour (which starts at 10 a,m.), Mayor Francis Slay and leaders behind the Sustainable Land Lab will mark the formal groundbreakings for the Land Lab projects with a ceremony at 9 a.m., starting with the Sunflower + project at 1316-24 Warren.  For more information on the Land Lab project and plans for this weekend, click HERE.  All 5 projects will have representatives at their sites to present their plans and answer questions starting at 10 a.m.

Bistro Box Sustainable Land Lab Project

RR Farm Sustainable Land Lab Project

Mighty Mississippians Sustainable Land Lab Project

Sunflower+ Sustainable Land Lab Project

Chess Pocket Park Sustainable Land Lab Project

Chess Pocket Park Sustainable Land Lab Project

Two of the stops on the tour will feature new businesses at Crown Square: Blackmun Footcare, at 2606 N. 14th Street, and Kennedy’s Pet shop across the street at 2601 N. 14th Street.  Dr. Annessa Blackmun celebrated the grand opening of her business several weeks ago, and Saturday will be the first chance for the community and other visitors to see the space where Seth Turner of Kennedy’s Pet Shop will be offering pet lovers with a variety of services, from dog-walking to pet treats and pet food delivery.

Other businesses that will be stops along the tour include La Mancha Coffeehouse, which will be offering a free cup of coffee to all tour-goers and will be showing off their soon-to-open expanded space at 2800 N. 14th; City Bar & Grill at North Market & Blair, which will be offering free toasted ravioli; and Old North Grocery Co-op at St. Louis Avenue & N. 13th Street.  As the aerial image of Crown Square below shows, the heart of Old North is buzzing with activity these days, especially with the opening of new businesses at Crown Square and the start-up of activities at the Land Lab lots.

The big day will also include the opening of a new exhibition in the Old North Gallery.



The goal of the PPRC Photography Project is to raise the visibility of community groups working to improve the quality of life in St. Louis.  We focus on groups working in four areas: social services, youth/older adult enrichment, historic preservations and community revitalization.  This exhibition includes photographs from five Photography Projects completed by community groups working on revitalization and/or historic preservation.

• Old North St. Louis Restoration Group—our 1st Photography Project!

• Lewis Place Historic Preservation, Inc.

• Granite City Downtown Revitalization

• JVL: A multi-generational group of JeffVanderLou residents

• Downtown Dutchtown Business Association

• Cherokee/Benton Park West Small Business Incubator

Each group polled its members to come up with volunteers to complete Photography Project training. (Training entails 9-13 sessions on digital photography, photo collage and autobiographical writing taught by a professional artist/photographer.)  At the end of training we mount two exhibitions of the photographs taken by community group members (one at UMSL and one in the community near the group’s location).  We also produce a professional quality brochure and opening announcement.  The Project Instructors for the groups in this exhibition were: Lois Ingrum, Ron Laboray, Chinyere Oteh and Lyndsey Scott.  I conducted the Old North St. Louis Project training.

Many thanks to Old North St. Louis Restoration Group for giving us the opportunity to show these works from the Photography Project Collection!  (Check out all 900+ works in the Collection at

–Mel Watkin, Director

The registration area for the tour once again will take place at the corner of N. 14th Street and St. Louis Avenue, which means this will be the first official event to take place at our new and improved plaza area for Crown Square.  While you’re there to pick up your tour booklet and information from our sponsors, take a few moments to enjoy music on the new stage and have a seat at one of the new umbrella-shaded tables.

And don’t forget that this year’s tour will also celebrate Crown Candy Kitchen’s century of service to Old North!

And what better way to commemorate Crown Candy’s 100th anniversary than with a taste of their legendary ice cream?  All tour-goers will receive a coupon for a free cup of ice cream, courtesy of Crown Candy but redeemable at the Old North Gallery on the day of the tour.

So, while we’ve got you thinking of historic architecture, community revitalization, sustainability, art, and ice cream, now is the time to get your tickets for the big day!

Also, if you’ve got some time this Saturday, it’s not too late to sign up to volunteer to help with a variety of tasks.  All volunteers receive free passes for the tour and can attend the after-tour party.  Contact Claire Wolff at the ONSLRG office (by email: or by phone: 314-241-5031) to sign up to volunteer.

Thank you again to all of our sponsors who have made this year’s tour possible, especially PNC Bank for being our lead sponsor.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Old North House & Community Tour: Saturday, May 18 (Just 17 Days Away!)

Call your relatives, email your colleagues, send Facebook messages to your friends, and Tweet your followers - and invite all of them to join you in Old North on Saturday, May 18 for the annual Old North House & Community Tour.

Tickets are available for $10 in advance and $12 on the day of the tour.  Advance tickets can be purchased at the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group office (2700 N. 14th Street) or online by clicking HERE.

In addition to the usual mix of historic homes (in varying stages of redevelopment), gardens, and new businesses in award-winning and architecturally significant buildings, this year’s tour will also feature the 5 Sustainable Land Lab demonstration projects being implemented on 4 lots in the Crown Square area, the recently improved corner plaza at N. 14th St. and St. Louis Ave., and a special spotlight on Crown Candy Kitchen in honor of the legendary Old North restaurant’s 100th anniversary.

The tour is made possible by financial support from our generous sponsors, including this year’s Tour Presenter

…and dozens of other tour sponsors, including Bank of America, BMO Harris, Commerce Bank, and U.S. Bank. Although the program booklet will be going to the printers soon, sponsorship opportunities are still available.  If you know of a business that wants to be affiliated with sustainable, comprehensive urban revitalization, please refer them to the ONSLRG office or download the sponsorship information by clicking HERE.

To help you get in the mood for the tour, we’ve dusted off the brief, rapid-pace video we prepared for last year’s tour, which highlighted some of transformations that have taken place in Old North in recent years. Take a look, and please feel free to “like” it and send the link on to others if you think it conveys the dynamic pace and positive changes that have taken place in Old North over the past few years.

Old North Transformations Tour Promo

Thank you to Old North resident Joe Eisenbraun for allowing us to use his music in this video.

If you’d like to pick up a pile of OId North House & Community Tour tickets to sell (or flyers or postcards to distribute), give us a call at the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group office at 314-241-5031.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Rain Postpones Land Lab Groundbreaking But Can’t Dampen Enthusiasm & National Exposure

Due to the drizzly weather today, the groundbreaking ceremony for the Sustainable Land Lab project has been postponed until a later date.  Watch for details later on the re-scheduled date.

Despite the rain, work crews from some of the Land Lab projects were on-site today to begin transforming the empty lots into attractive and functional demonstrations of positive re-uses of vacant land in the city.

The Mighty Mississippians crew was willing to brave the elements to begin planting on the lot at 13th and Montgomery.

The Mighty Mississippians crew was willing to brave the elements to begin planting on the lot at 13th and Montgomery.

The Bistro Box team installed a signboard to show visitors what will be coming to the northeast corner of 13th and Montgomery.

The Bistro Box team installed a signboard to show visitors what will be coming to the northeast corner of 13th and Montgomery.

Although the ceremonial kick-off didn’t happen, that hasn’t stopped the buzz and outside interest in the project.  Yesterday the American Public Radio program, Marketplace, broadcast a story about the Land Lab on public radio stations across the country (including St. Louis Public Radio, 90.7 FM).  Click on the image below (or HERE) to read the text version of the story or to listen to the story online.

Thank you to St. Louis Public Radio reporter Adam Allington for getting this story out to the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, at the corner of N. 14th Street and St. Louis Avenue, work is being completed on a major upgrade to the Crown Square plaza space across the street from Crown Candy Kitchen.

Made possible with financial support from Equifax Foundation and the Regional Business Council, the project was planned and coordinated by Rebuilding Together St. Louis.  Volunteer crews fromScottrade and Equifax put in a lot of labor over the past few days to achieve these great improvements.

With covered outdoor seating, we look forward to attracting some of the customers at Crown Candy who just can’t wait for a table inside and other visitors to the community.  And, the covered stage area will also be a great amenity for our live music and other performers who come out to the North City Farmers’ Market and other events throughout the year.

Thank you again to all of the volunteers, Equifax, Scottrade, Rebuilding Together St. Louis, and all who contribute their time and resources to help us beautify and improve Old North!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thank You to All of Today’s Volunteers

We’re in the midst of last minute preparations for this evening’s Trivia Night for North City Farmers’ Market and the 13th Street Community Garden, but we first would like to thank all of the volunteers who joined us today and put in hundreds of hours of hard work on neighborhood improvement projects that otherwise would have taken us weeks to complete.

It all started with the St. Louis Rams, who then reached out to Monsanto.  Eventually, we ended up with about 100 outside volunteers who came in to work in multiple teams led by ONSLRG staff and board members and neighborhood residents.

The following are just some of the photos of the hard work put in by these generous individuals.  Click HERE to see more photos in our Volunteers folder on our Facebook site.

Thanks to the assistance of the employee-volunteers from the St. Louis Rams and Monsanto, and other volunteers from Old North (and our practicum students Kristin and Becky), we were able to get new street trees planted along Montgomery and N. 13th Street, a trench dug and a new irrigation system installed at the 13th Street Community Garden, the garden’s storage shed got pointed (and much other garden work got done), weeds got pulled at Wingmann Park, and we even were able to get tables and chairs moved down the street and set up in the former Sobel Dept. Store building in time for this evening’s trivia night.  Thank you again to all for all of your help!

Later we’ll be posting a big thank you to all of the volunteers who are working at this very minute to make it possible for the trivia night to happen!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Trivia Night Just 2 Days Away… But Still Time to Join Us!

If supporting 2 great causes isn’t enough, we’ve got a lot of other good reasons for you to attend the 3rd Annual Old North Trivia Night benefit for North City Farmers’ Market and 13th Street Community Garden.  The following represents our Top 10 reasons to attend the trivia night THIS FRIDAY, April 19, at 7 p.m.:

(1) complimentary beverages, courtesy of Six Row Brewing Co. and Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.;

(2) an opportunity to enjoy the company of a great mix of passionate and engaged community residents and friends of Old North;

(3) a silent auction featuring many incredible items, including:

  • St. Louis Cardinals memorabilia (such as items autographed by the late, great Stan Musial);
  • Posters from Firecracker Press;
  • Delmar Loop package, with gift certificates to events at the Tivoli and the Pageant;
  • many other items from Left Bank Books, Washington Avenue Post, the Curio Shoppe, Black Bear Bakery, knitted items from Norah Ryan… and even more come;

(4) an opportunity to spend a Friday evening in the award-winning Crown Square (2010 “Overall Excellence in Historic Preservation” Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation & HUD Secretary) in the heart of an award-winning community (2011 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement from EPA and 2013 Growing Green Award from U.S. Green Building Council-Missouri Gateway chapter, among others);

(5) this year’s event will take place in the spacious former Sobel Dept. Store building at 2612-24 N. 14th Street (see below), which means you’ll have plenty of breathing room and won’t have to worry about the competitors at the next table overhearing all of your good answers;

2612-24 N. 14th Street, before & after Crown Square redevelopment

2612-24 N. 14th Street, before & after Crown Square redevelopment

(6) door prizes, 50-50 raffle, and other opportunities to win a variety of unique items;

(7) cash prize for the winning team;

(8) the chance to exercise your brain and challenge your memory - and if you’re good, you can show off how smart you are; if you’re not so adept at trivial matters, you can demonstrate how good you are at not sweating the small stuff;

OK, we said there are plenty of reasons to attend Friday night other than the next 2, but we can’t have a Top 10 list without the most important reasons:

(9) help make it possible for the 13th Street Community Garden to continue growing some great, fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables for residents of Old North, some of which is made available for sale at Old North Grocery Co-op and North City Farmers’ Market;

(10) help make it possible for Old North St. Louis Restoration Group to cover the costs of coordinating North City Farmers’ Market throughout the market’s 7th season!

So, now that we’ve convinced you, here are the not-so-trivial facts to remember:

When: Friday, April 19 at 7:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)

Tickets: $15/person or $100/table of 8

How to RSVP: stop by the ONSRLG Offices (2700 North 14th Street), or call (314) 241-5031, or send an e-mail to

Please help us spread the word by passing this along to others who might be interested.  We’ll look forward to seeing you Friday evening!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

And the Winners of the Land Lab Competition Are…

From the official press release put out by the City of St. Louis and Washington University:

The City of St. Louis is poised to lead the way in innovative solutions to the national urban issue of vacant land, thanks to a unique partnership between the city and Washington University.

Four of the City’s vacant lots will be the new home for five demonstration projects that test new ways to think of vacant space. From a franchise-model urban farm co-existing next to an intimate bistro built out of re-used shipping containers, to a sunflower lab piloting efficiency of plant-based soil remediation, Old North St. Louis will be the first home to what will truly be a Sustainable Land Lab.

Winners of the inaugural Sustainable Land Lab Competition are:

Bistro Box and Our Farm: The Bistro Box concept is a small business incubator that transforms surplus cargo containers into a compact restaurant and culinary destination. Our Farm is a scalable urban agriculture network that proposes to transform blighted lots into cost efficient models of sustainability. **This is a hybrid of two finalist teams sharing a single lot due to the synergy between the two projects**

Chess Pocket Park: An outdoor community chess venue for residents with a permanent location supporting our primary community asset – people.

Mighty Mississippians: A modern agricultural and sustainable living model, the premises for this approach are rooted in regional history, the Mississippians and their ancestors, as well as modern permaculture practices. Using concepts of permaculture, the site will demonstrate the interdependent relationships that work efficiently and sustainably in nature and that worked for previous civilizations, from the soil to the birds, to humans.

Sunflower+ Project: Proposes turning previously developed urban lots into a community asset through the planting of sunflowers. With a goal of eventually spurring redevelopment of these vacant parcels, the project will serve as an appropriate, scalable and productive transitional solution.The sunflowers will improve soil quality, remove soil contaminants, and eventually produce a marketable set of products from flowers to seeds to biodiesel.

Each winning project will receive a two-year land lease and $5,000 seed money to start their project.

In the inaugural year of this city-wide competition, the pilot sites will be hosted in Old North St. Louis.

“The Sustainable Land Lab Competition is exploring innovative ideas for a national issue,” says Phil Valko, director of sustainability at the university.

“From urban to suburban to rural communities, vacant land is an American epidemic. This competition is adding to the dialogue and the body of problem solving,” he says. “The aspect that makes it especially unique is that the winners will actually win access to land and money to build their idea. The partnership between the city and Washington University in St. Louis is of great benefit to both. It leverages the university’s role as a thought-leader and research institution to channel creative thinking to a major challenge the city faces.”

The competition timing aligns well with the release of the first City of St. Louis Sustainability Plan.

“Advancing tangible and measureable sustainability has been an important goal of this project,” says Catherine Werner, sustainability director for the City of St. Louis. “Part of the challenge was for the teams to specifically address how their projects will help achieve the city’s sustainability goals. It’s very exciting to now have the opportunity to watch as creative sustainability ideas become reality.”

“I am thrilled that we have been able to partner with Washington University on this project,” says St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “There was an overwhelming amount of interest and support from the community and the result was a high level of energy and an impressive array of final project ideas. It was difficult to select just a few winning projects. I look forward to celebrating and learning from the winning projects and using ideas from all the projects involved to address vacant land use in the city.”

The winning teams will present their ideas during a public forum at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Bridge, 1004 Locust St. in St. Louis.

Forty-eight teams applied in the first of a three-round competition. The final round consisted of eight ideas representing 10 of the original teams.

All of the submissions can be found online at

The competition brief, which outlines the goals and context for this initiative, can be found online at

The Sustainable Land Lab is a partnership between Washington University and the City of St. Louis, with support from Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, Equifax and the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance.

It is the ongoing legacy of Washington University’s three-day Sustainable Cities Conference, held Nov. 1-3, 2012. The Sustainable Land Lab is designed to be a living laboratory of two-year demonstration projects, which will showcase innovative ideas and integrated strategies for transforming one of the region’s greatest challenges — vacant land — into an asset that can advance sustainability.

Please join us this evening in celebrating the completion of the selection process.

The official groundbreaking and start of work on these projects will take place on Saturday, April 27 at 10 a.m. The locations are marked on the map below.

Images of the projects (below) were part of the groups’ final concept boards submitted for Round 3.

Selected for Lot 1 at 2711 N. 14th Street:  Chess Pocket Park

Selected for Lot 4 at 1318-24 Warren:  Sunflower + Project

Selected for Lot 5 at 1300-06 Montgomery:  Mighty Mississippians

Selected for Lot 6 at 1303 Motgomery: Bistro Box and Our Farm

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Our Latest E-Newsletter & Invitations to Join us for Land Lab Celebration (THIS Thurs.) & Trivia Night (next Fri.)

If you didn’t get our latest e-Newsletter in your in-box, click the image below to view the web-version. And if you’d like to get on the subscription list to receive these periodic messages in your in-box, just send an email to and put “subscribe to e-newsletter” in the subject line or in the message.

Within this issue, please take note of two special events coming up that we invite you to attend:

1) Thursday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m. - Celebration & reception in honor of the Sustainable Land Lab Competition winning projects at Bridge, 1004 Locust Street in Downtown St. Louis.

2) Next Friday, April 19, at 7 p.m. - 3rd annual Trivia Night to benefit North City Farmers’ Market and 13th Street Community Garden at 2612 N. 14th Street.


::::::  Sustainable Land Lab Celebration  ::::::

The jury for the Sustainable Land Lab Competition has made their selections - and the winners will be announced on Thursday.  Come out to celebrate with the winners and hear their presentations on what they’ll be doing on the selected lots in the Crown Square area of Old North.  We’re hoping representatives from the teams that did not get selected through this process will also be in attendance, so this should provide another opportunity to lobby them to pursue their concepts at other sites in Old North. The event will take place at Bridge in Downtown at 1004 Locust.  Doors open at 6 with the program beginning at 6:30 p.m.  See the flyer below for more details.

:::::::  Trivia Night  :::::::

Whether you’re a trivia buff or just enjoy being around a lot of cool people - come on out on Friday, April 19 for a fun time in support of two great causes.

The trivia night to benefit North City Farmers’ Market and the 13th Street Community Garden has become an annual tradition now.  As the photo above shows, we had a full house at last year’s event - and advance reservations for this year have already exceeded last year’s number.  So, by popular demand, we’re moving the event across Montgomery Street to the former Sobel Dept. Store building at 2612-24 N. 14th Street.

With a little more than a week to go, you still have time to get your team together. We’ll have some light refreshments and complimentary beverages courtesy of Six Row Brewery and Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. The cost is $15 per person or a table of 8 is just $100.  If you want to come but can’t drum up 7 friends to go in on a table, you still can participate!  In addition to fun questions and prizes, we’ll have superb silent auction items (including some great Cardinals memorabilia) and more.

To reserve your space, call the ONSLRG office at 314-241-5031 or send an email to

And… even if you can’t attend the trivia night, you can still support ONSLRG’s work to bring healthy and affordable foods to Old North as part of our comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy.  All of these projects take a lot of time and coordination - and we need your financial support to continue this work.  Please make a contribution today! Click HERE or on the button below to make a secure, online contribution.  Or, if you’d like to discuss other ways to contribute, give us a call.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Celebrate Crown Square’s Newest Commercial Tenant: Blackmun Footcare Grand Opening Sat., April 6

All residents of Old North and friends of the community are invited (and strongly encouraged!) to welcome Dr. Annessa Blackmun to Crown Square this Saturday from 3-6 p.m.

Blackmun Footcare will occupy space in the building that had originally been built for Peters Brothers Dry Goods and Clothing Co. in 1881 (with an addition in 1888).  In 1928, the building became home to the first J.C. Penney store in St. Louis.

The Peters Bros. Dry Goods & Clothing Co. building in the 1890s (source unknown).

The Peters Bros. Dry Goods & Clothing Co. building in the 1890s (source unknown).

The Peters Dry Goods building in the 1920s prior to the arrival of J.C. Penney's.