Archive for the ‘Iron Horse Trestle’ Category

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thank You to All Who Helped Old North Achieve Distinction as the “Best Place to Live” in St. Louis

Happy Thanksgiving to all! In honor of this season of gratitude, all of us at Old North St. Louis Restoration Group (ONSLRG) thank everyone who has been a part of making Old North St. Louis the “Best Place to Live” in St. Louis.

And thank you again to the Riverfront Times for putting the spotlight on the great things going on in Old North and for selecting Old North as the 2015 “Best Place to Live” neighborhood in the annual “Best of St. Louis” issue. While the RFT’s few lines of explanation (as shown in the clip above from the print copy) provided a good start, we know there is so much more to the Old North story.  So, for those who have asked what it takes to become a “Best Place to Live” neighborhood, we offer the following, more detailed, mostly objective, rest-of-the-story case for why Old North really is such a great place to live.

Old North is a neighborhood with character and soul - a place with a long & fascinating history… a place with visible progress achieved through a revitalization process guided by an organization that is genuinely of, by, and for the people of the community.
And for any who might question the RFT’s wisdom with this year’s selection - and with all due respect to the many other wonderful neighborhoods throughout the city, it’s worth noting that the RFT hasn’t been the only source to  consider the revitalization of Old North to be worthy of recognition. That list of outside parties who’ve had upbeat assessments of Old North in recent years includes:
  • Focus St. Louis, who picked Old North for one of their “What’s Right with the Region” Awards; and
  • Kaid Benfield, then-director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Smart Growth & Sustainable Communities Program, who referred to Old North as “one of the country’s best revitalization stories…”
So, what’s going on in Old North that captured the attention and earned the respect of these outside observers?  The short answer is that it isn’t just one thing. Old North has been reviving and transforming itself through a comprehensive set of initiatives over several years.
A successful and vibrant community will be a place with a mix of positive features and attributes, not simply a place with good housing stock or nice parks, for instance. The more diverse and the stronger the mix of distinctive characteristics, the more likely it is that the community will enjoy a positive trajectory and be able to sustain itself over time. The most important element, however, is a population of community members who establish the vision for what they want their community to be - and are actively involved in the implementation of the various initiatives, as well as the ongoing work of maintaining and building on the progress.
It’s a given that just about every neighborhood will claim that it’s the people who live & work there that make it such a wonderful place. In the absence of specifics, though, that claim can sound rather superficial. With that in mind, let’s consider the “tight-knit bunch” of people who are part of the warm and welcoming community in Old North.
Long-time Neighbors =====
Above Left: Tom Bratkowski with a picnic table & bench he built for the 13th Street Community Garden; Above Right: Gloria Bratkowski with Old North’s Girl Scout Troop. The Bratkowski Family has been in Old North for 4 generations - and they continue to serve in a variety of ways.
As a community with a long and rich history, one of the compelling features of Old North is that history isn’t confined to the history books. Old North is home to people who’ve been a part of the community long enough to be able tell the back-stories of various aspects of the neighborhood’s ups and downs over several generations. Along with residents who moved into the neighborhood 20, 30, or 40 years ago, Old North is also home to residents whose families have been in the neighborhood for several generations before them.  And Old North is such a vibrant place because long-term residents are still actively involved in a lot of community-building efforts, from working in community gardens to serving on committees or on the ONSLRG Board.
…And a Lot of Newcomers, Too!
Old North has a growing population, with new residents welcomed to the community & invited to participate in the ongoing work of community-building =======
Newcomers tell us that there are many reasons they choose to move into Old North, but almost everybody reports that they love the powerful and genuine sense of community. Longtime residents welcome in their new neighbors and readily invite them to attend community events and/or to participate in the shared responsibility of community-building. Damon Moore and his wife, Kausta, (in the left photo above) had just moved into the neighborhood when the Riverfront Times stumbled across him doing work in his new front yard. Asked why he and his wife moved into the neighborhood, Damon responded: “They’re constantly building this neighborhood up, and we want to be a part of it.” And Kausta has since followed up by joining the ONSLRG Real Estate Committee.
Meanwhile the Lunsford family (in the right photo above) started showing up for community events in Old North long before they moved into the neighborhood from south city to tackle a rehab. The whole family has been regulars at Old North’s farmers’ market and can be counted on to bring a burst of positive energy to any neighborhood activity.  Life in Old North as become such a central part of the Lunsford family’s everyday activities that “Old North” emerged as the most prominent set of words used in Leah’s Facebook posts (as shown below)…
It’s also important to note that population growth didn’t just happen by itself.  Significant effort went into planning for and developing new housing, including finding and partnering with outside parties, such as Rise Community Development, who had resources and capacity to make larger projects happen. The process also involved considerable time and effort on the part of ONSLRG staff to recruit and assist individuals and families who were open to the possibility of moving into Old North. These ongoing efforts involve everything from hosting the annual Old North House & Community Tour every spring to preparing and distributing an Available Properties List every month and responding to inquiries from visitors who drop in at the ONSLRG office wanting to know more about the neighborhood.
And, as shown in the image above, the development of new housing options continues. Starting at approximately $150,000, new, energy-efficient homes will be available in early 2016.  (Interested buyers should contact Matt Fernandez at 314-241-5031, ext. 101 or by email at
Because a growing population by itself isn’t enough to make a community vibrant and sustainable, ONSLRG regularly hosts events and activities to allow neighbors to get to know each other.  Since strong and supportive relationships don’t happen automatically or through one time events, it takes a variety of occasions throughout the year, such as ONSLRG’s Annual Meeting and Pot-Luck Supper in February, a trivia night in March, the House & Community Tour in May, 20 weeks in a row of the North City Farmers’ Market in the middle of 14th Street from June through October, a big National Night Out celebration in the 13th Street Community Garden (as shown below)…
…periodic happy hours, monthly neighborhood meetings, and the Holidays in Old North Festival, in addition to several other special events, such as hosting this year’s Shakespeare in the Streets on at the intersection of Montgomery and N. 14th Street.
Landmark, Legendary Businesses
Crown Candy*
No story of Old North would be complete without acknowledging the importance of Crown Candy Kitchen as a neighborhood landmark that has drawn customers and visitors to the neighborhood for more than 100 years now.  For many St. Louisans, Crown Candy was their first introduction to Old North - and for many years, the only reason they would have ever set foot in the neighborhood.  Now, Crown’s customers have a lot more to take in and can walk down the street to marvel at the beauty of Crown Square and the view of the Arch and the Downtown skyline framed by the collection of architecturally significant, historically rehabbed buildings along both sides of N. 14th Street.
But there’s more to the Old North business community than Crown Candy, including other legendary businesses, such as another family-owned, much-older business, Marx Hardware (which also made this year’s RFT “Best of” list), and HeadHunters, a barber shop that stuck around the 14th Street Mall for many, many years after all of the other businesses abandoned the dead pedestrian mall and survived long enough to enjoy the revitalization at Crown Square.
Newer, Locally-Owned Businesses
The past few years have brought several new businesses to the heart of Old North, especially at Crown Square, such as:
- Blackmun Footcare, owned and operated by Old North resident, Dr. Annessa Blackmun (shown above)* - which also was selected by St. Louis Development Corporation as the 5th Ward Business of the Year this year;
- Kennedy’s Pet Shop;
- La Mancha Coffeehouse* (a previous SLDC Business of the Year honoree);
- Firecracker Press;
- The Racq Salon;
- Angel’s Touch Home Healthcare;
- The Gallery Clothing Boutique;
- Le Fit;
and others beyond the Crown Square portion of 14th Street, such as Better Life and Perpetua;
… and so many more.
* owned & run by Old North residents
Recent Arrival Nonprofits & Service Providers…
Old North residents are lucky to have many other organizations present within and serving the Old North community, including:
- UrbArts, a home for spoken word arts and poetry slams (with founder / executive director, MK Stallings in the photo above);
- Central Print;
- Building Futures;
- Zuka Arts Guild;
- Magdalene House;
- Peace Weaving Wholeness.
Old North is also home to several other groups that have been around for quite a while, such as:
- Grace Hill Settlement House (for over a Century);
- The Haven of Grace;
- C.J.’s Place (Places for People);
- Stepping Into the Light;
- Sunshine Ministries;
… and, of course, Old North’s own vehicle for neighborhood-driven and respectful community development, ONSLRG, which will be celebrating 35 years in 2016.
The highest profile arts event in the past year was Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’s production of their annual Shakespeare in the Streets in Old North, which featured area residents John Bratkowski, Aniyah Wilson, and Robert Green, along with Old North’s very own police officer, Richard Schicker of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s 4th District.
But there is so much more art happening within the boundaries of Old North.
Recent hightlights have included a new mural by William Burton and Robert Ketchins; several exhibits in the Old North Gallery; live music within the ONSLRG Gallery, on the stage at the Crown Square corner plaza, in the street…
…poetry slams at UrbArts, printmaking at Central Print, children’s programs at NorthSide Workshop, Friday afternoon concerts at Zuka Arts, improv, drum lessons for the neighborhood Girl Scout troop, daily steel drum music by Jamaica Ray in front of Crown Candy, and on and on.
….residents walking together, outside groups bringing bike tours through Old North, soccer games in Jackson Park…
As a community that dates back to its founding in 1816 as an independent municipality (the Village of North St. Louis) separate from St. Louis, Old North is home to a great mix of structures and historic sites that contribute to the neighborhood’s distinct sense of place.  Residents of Old North embrace that history and character and go to great lengths to preserve what the physical elements that shape the character and beauty of the neighborhood.  Part of that history is currently on display at the Missouri History Museum, with their A Walk in 1875 exhibit (shown above), and much more of that can on a walk through Old North today. Thanks to the efforts of ONSLRG and our partners, and many individual homeowners, dozens of historic buildings have been rescued from the brink of collapse.  We thank all who have helped make this aspect of Old North’s character possible - and we thank Landmarks Association of St. Louis for helping to acknowledge the great contributions of so many in Old North through their annual “Most Enhanced” Historic Preservation Awards, with more awards going to more buildings in Old North than any other neighborhood - as a percentage of total buildings within the neighborhood…
Above: Owners of Old North properties that have been (or will one day be) recognized by Landmarks Association of St. Louis for the quality of their historic preservation.  From left to right: Matt Fernandez future award winner; Dave Eisenbraun, past winner; James & Luz Maria Cox, 2015 & previous year winners; and Susan Tschetter, past winner.
Old North is a place that embraces healthy lifestyles in a variety of ways, most visibly through the weekly appearance of North City Farmers’ Market along the 2700 block of N. 14th Street from June through mid- October over the past 9 years.
The community-wide celebration of healthy lifestyles is also evident through the neighborhood’s 9 community gardens…
… and the community’s Walking Club.
Residents out and about and watching out for each other has also made it possible for Old North to experience a 47% decline in crime from 2010 - 2014, further reinforced by coordinated efforts, including Old North’s Neighborhood Ownership Model and regular collaboration with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s 4th District (especially Officers Lori Wozniak and Richard Schicker)…
So much of what has been mentioned above can be attributed to a simple formula of community-driven initiatives matched with support from outside partners.  While the full list of partners and supporters would be too long for this space, some of them do need to be acknowledged here, such as several who’ve provided funding support for some of our programs recently: the City of St. Louis Community Development Administration, Bank of America, Regional Arts Commission, Trio Foundation; some who’ve provided funding and program support, such as Gateway Greening, Ken Kranzberg and STL North LLC; some who’ve worked with us on various aspects of our mission, including our Crown Square development partner, Rise Community Development, Community Builders Network (which is assisting with ONSLRG’s collaborations with other nearby CDCs, Community Renewal and Development and Northside Community Housing)… and partners who’ve made it possible for our staff to take on so much more work than we could otherwise afford to do by providing us with more people power in the office - Mission St. Louis and AmeriCorps VISTA for making it possible for Jessica Payne and Brendan Ziebarth to work with us, and AARP for making it possible for Charlotte Harris to keep an eye on our front desk;
and several hundred residents and outside friends of the community.

This litany of supporters, investors, and friends could continue for quite a while. So, we invite you to add the names of others who deserve thanks and acknowledgments.  Just scroll down to find the Comment box below and share your thoughts!


In light of all of the above, we THANK all who made this possible. If you’re thankful that St. Louis has a dynamic and growing community capable of showing that our city does, indeed, have vibrant, attractive and sustainable neighborhoods, we invite you to help us continue this work.  If you believe it’s important for the city to have healthy and thriving neighborhoods on the north side, as well as on the south side, if you believe it’s vital to our region’s future to have neighborhoods that seek to engage all of their residents in the work of community building and that continue to reach out to various agencies and organizations to join the residents in making the community a better place for all, then we need your support.  Please make a new or continuing contribution today by clicking on the image below.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Celebrating Another Year of Progress & Preparing for More Revitalization in 2015: a full recap of ONSLRG’s Annual Meeting & Pot-Luck Supper

Despite the snowy conditions and the frigid temperatures, a good crowd of dedicated Old North St. Louis residents and friends braved the elements this past Monday evening to attend Old North St. Louis Restoration Group’s 2015 Annual meeting & Pot-Luck Supper. Since some of those who had planned to join us couldn’t do so because of the weather, we offer the following highlights from the evening.

ONSLRG President Tino Ochoa welcomed the crowd

ONSLRG Board President Tino Ochoa opened the meeting with a warm greeting and invited all in attendance to help themselves to the great buffet of foods prepared by neighbors for the pot-luck supper.

The meeting portion of the evening included a mix of PowerPoint slides illustrating the memorable moments and developments that took place during 2014 -along with plans for 2015- and reports from ONSLRG Board members, staff, committee chairs, and residents involved with a range of community initiatives in Old North. But first, a quick review of ONSLRG’s mission, as a reminder what all of these activities are designed to advance…

…and an acknowledgment that ONSLRG can’t accomplish any of its goals without a committed base of neighborhood residents who put in an incredible amount of their own time on personal initiatives and organizational projects designed to make Old North an even better place. Because the Annual Meeting is also an opportunity to put the spotlight on the people of Old North, we presented several “Good Neighbor” Awards. Among residents receiving awards were:

  • Charlotte Harris & Laura Hobson for their regular door-to-door flyering for ONSLRG events and delivery of our quarterly newspaper;
  • Veronica Holden for running a homework help program at La Mancha Coffeehouse, and for further investing in Old North with the recent expansion at La Mancha; and
  • Gina Sheridan for so many different contributions to the vitality of Old North, including regular participation in the Old North Walking Club, leadership of the Old North Girl Scout troop, opening her home (along with her husband, Travis) for numerous visitors & tours, serving as Old North’s own head librarian for our new Little Free Library, and for representing Old North so well, whether talking to a reporter, telling a delegation from Detroit why she loves Old North, or even when entertaining a standing room only crowd at a book-signing party for her recently-published book, I Work at a Public Library.


First up: Green Space Committee, chaired by Gloria Bratkowski, who reported on the activities at Old North’s seven community gardens, especially the food production (& chickens) at the 13th Street Garden - and the many neighborhood clean-ups that took place throughout the year. Gloria also asked all in attendance to mark their calendars for our 2015 neighborhood-wide Brightside clean-up day scheduled for Saturday, April 11



The Real Estate Committee report included updates on the BrickStarter campaign…

…the work of our Macho Action Group, which gathers on a quasi-monthly basis to board-up and secure vacant buildings, along with other community improvements involving physical labor;

…and ongoing assistance to prospective residents & businesses with information about Old North, and through monthly updates to our Available Properties List;

In 2014 we also coordinated the purchase of 1227 St. Louis Avenue for a future development…

… and the exciting news that CDA funding has been approved for resuming construction of new, for-sale homes within the North Market redevelopment area:

We were also thrilled that Landmarks Association once again selected a project from Old North for one of their prestigious “Most Enhanced” Historic Preservation Awards


Although not a responsibility of our Real Estate Committee, it’s still worth noting some of the other real estate related progress realized within the past year, including new activity at some of the Crown Square commercial spaces…

…and with the Sustainable Land Lab lots, including ongoing activities at the Sunflower+ Project on Warren and the Mighty Mississippians space on Montgomery, and especially with the official opening of the Chess Pocket Park at 2713 N.14th Street…

And, speaking of Crown Square, 2014 saw another very successful Rise Up Street Festival, brought to Old North by our Crown Square development partners, Rise Community Development. This year’s event included a “live” painting of the “Rise Up as One” mural on the south side of 2717 N. 14th Street.


Even with all of the development on the physical side of things, the most activity in 2014 seemed to fall within the realm of the “social dimension” part of our mission, and that happened on many levels:


A steady stream of arts initiatives, sometimes in conjunction with ONSLRG’s Old North Equality Project, served as vehicles for building community, deepening understanding, and bridging differences…

2015 promises to be another arts-rich year with upcoming exhibits planned for the Old North Gallery which will feature the work of Sylvester Jacobs (more photography), Edna Patterson-Petty in September, the St. Louis Artist Guild young artists showcase in April, and a special exhibit in May that will show off the great variety of art produced by Old North residents.  We’re also excited that later this year Old North will play host to performances of Shakespeare in the Streets, brought to us by Shakespeare Festival St. Louis.

Because we have so much going on in our own gallery and more and more arts programming and initiatives with other individuals and organizations in Old North, in 2015 we will facilitate new efforts to bring the arts community together and to foster greater collaboration and support for the programming and events of the different groups. Old North resident James Anderson has agreed to lead our new arts collaborations committee.

As we completed 2014, we also said farewell to Claire Wolff, ONSLRG’s Community Engagement Specialist, who was responsible for overseeing much of the work of the Social Outreach Committee and was integrally involved with most of the progress achieved in recent years…


Vela Hermann of the Old North Neighborhood Ownership Model leadership team (in the photo above) reported on the continuing work of making & keeping Old North a safe place for all residents and visitors.  And we were very happy to report that significant progress has been made in recent years in bringing down Old North’s already relatively low crime rate…


Next up - a discussion about various health initiatives, with some comments from Old North resident and neighborhood podiatrist, Dr. Annessa Blackmun, who reviewed some of the progress over the past year and plans to expand on some of these successful initiatives through the launching of a new Health Ambassadors Committee.

Paulette Sankofa (above) announced plans for a health conference for women next month…

Among the community health initiatives coordinated by ONSLRG in the past year were the launch of the Old North Walking Club…

…and another full, 20-week season of the North City Farmers’ Market in the heart of Old North, along the 2700 block of N. 14th Street.

We also conveyed a reminder that opening day for the market’s 9th season is not that far off…


Next up, Travis Sheridan, chair of our Marketing Committee, reported on the great media coverage we received in the past year, from St. Louis Magazine to the Post-Dispatch; from St. Louis Public Radio to Channel 4. We even got several mentions and photos of Old North in Kaid Benfield’s book, People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities.

We also hosted a steady stream of visitors to Old North, from near and far, as well as presentations by our staff for university classes and other groups who come to see what makes Old North distinctive…

and a few of our events that we host to show off the neighborhood’s revitalization and to recruit new neighbors and/or customers for neighborhood businesses. The biggest event of the year is always the annual Old North House & Community Tour, and we had a great one in 2014…

The 2015 House & Community Tour will be bigger and better than ever due to our hosting the big event with the very successful “Spring Fling” vintage street festival that takes place on 14th Street, scheduled for Saturday, May 9

Because ONSLRG needs resources to carry out this dizzying array of community building work, Doug Rasmussen reported on the past year’s fundraising efforts, including the Southeast by Old North benefit concert this past September…

And Doug made a pitch to support our work at two upcoming events:

  • The annual Old North House & Community Tour (which, as noted earlier, is scheduled for Saturday, May 9), with sponsorships being recruited now and tickets already available for purchase on our website by clicking HERE; and
  • our annual Trivia Night, scheduled for Sat., April 11th, which supports North City Farmers’ Market and the 13th Street Community Garden; tickets for that are also available for purchase online by clicking HERE or on the image below.


Because the comprehensive, neighborhood-wide revitalization of Old North’s physical and social dimensions is a bigger task than any one organization could ever accomplish, a key feature of ONSLRG’s work involves finding the right partners who can bring capacity and resources to the table while still respecting the vision and leadership of the people of the community. Identifying and recruiting partners for this collaborative approach to community building, and ensuring that the work of all partners complements and supports each others’ efforts, is time consuming and labor-intensive. While that’s what ONSLRG has been doing for much of the past 34 years, in 2015 we will be setting up quarterly convenings to bring all parties together for the sake of exchanging information about the broad range of initiatives and to explore new ways of collaborating to achieve a collective and more sustainable impact. Watch for details about the first meeting in March and let us know if you would like to be involved.

ONSLRG benefits greatly from the hard work of volunteers, interns, practicum students, and professional staff. The review of the past year wouldn’t be complete without recognizing our current staff, Community Development Specialist Matt Fernandez and Executive Director Sean Thomas, as well as Charlotte Harris, who is with us thanks to the AARP Senior Service Corps, and Community Health Initiatives Coordinator Jessica Payne, with us courtesy of Mission St. Louis and AmericorpsVISTA, and our two current interns, Brendan Ziebarth, from Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design, and Dan Sachs, from the University of Missouri-St. Louis social work program.

And, of course, we wouldn’t be able to function without a strong board of directors, which includes a diverse mix of people who care about Old North and are willing to put a lot of their time, energy, and creativity into helping ONSLRG serve as a vehicle for the community’s ongoing revitalization. Before the end of the evening, we collected and tabulated the ballots for 5 Board members who will serve in the 2015-’17 terms. Congratulations and welcome to the ONSLRG Board of Directors to Marlon WhartonPaulette Sankofa, and M. K. Stallings; and welcome to another term to re-elected Board members Dave Eisenbraun and Graham Lane.

Pictured above, from left to right, are some of the new and continuing members of our Board: Marlon Wharton, Annessa Blackmun, Gloria Bratkowski, Dave Eisenbraun, Paulette Sankofa, Graham Lane, Doug Rasmussen, Travis Sheridan, and Tino Ochoa.

Not pictured: Christina Blash, Ken Franklin, Terry Harris, Grace Kincaid, Nevels Nevels, Ben Sever, and M. K. Stallings.

Thank you and farewell to outgoing Board members Linda Quinn, Bryan Reckamp, and Rev. Jonathan Stratton.

Before the conclusion of the program, we extended one more invitation to those in attendance to sign up to be a part of ONSLRG’s work by participating as a member of one or more of our committees. We were very pleased that several people took us up on the offer - but there’s still room for more! If you’d like to help ONSLRG with our comprehensive, neighborhood-wide revitalization strategy, please send us an email ( or give us a call (314-241-5031) to let us know you’d like to join one of our committees.

Whether or not you can contribute your time, we invite all to support this work by becoming a member of ONSLRG or by making a financial contribution today. We even offer an option for scheduled, monthly donations so that you could spread your support throughout the year. Click on the image below to make a secure, online contribution.

Finally, we thank all who helped with making Monday evening’s gathering such a successful and enjoyable event, especially Matt Fernandez for clearing the snow to create a safe path to the front door; Rise Community Development for use of the space at the former Parks Drug Store building; Dan, Brendan, Jessica, Matt, James Anderson & Fernando for hauling tables and chairs and setting up the space; Marie Oberkirsch of Central Print for sharing chairs; and Tom & Gloria Bratkowski for handling the sign-in and committee tables, and various other set up chores; and all neighbors and friends who prepared and brought food to share with all!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Community Development Rocks! 3 Reasons to Go to Benefit Concert for ONSLRG on Sat., Nov. 2

November 2 is right around the corner, so get your tickets now for the Community Development Rocks! benefit concert featuring the critically acclaimed band, Five Eight, and the locally loved band, Last to Show First to Go.  Proceeds from this benefit will help Old North St. Louis Restoration Group continue the good work of revitalizing the physical and social dimensions of the Old North neighborhood in a manner that respects the community’s historic, cultural, and urban character.

If you’re wondering why you should buy as many tickets as you can afford for the Nov. 2 concert, we offer a few reasons to think about:

(1) Great music

According to NPR’s All Songs Considered, Five Eight is one of the top five bands that should be way bigger than they are.  St. Louis fans of Five Eight - and many who are just getting to know them - are excited about the rare opportunity to see the indie rock veterans in the Gateway City.  The band has agreed to travel all the way from Athens, Georgia, to perform at this benefit for ONSLRG.

Although Last to Show First to Go is a local band - which means you may have seen them before and likely will get many other opportunities to see them - it’s worth pointing out to those unfamiliar with them how good they are.  Here’s one review by Annie-Rose Fondaw on KDHX:

“On first listen, Last to Show First to Go appears to have its roots down in the landscape of heartland rock ‘n’ roll. Lead singer Bredon Jones’ earnest, earthy vocals lie simply against a backdrop of acoustic guitar, drums and vocal harmonies, all bolstered by a double bass. Yet as each song unfolds, it’s clear that Last to Show First to Go has a flair for genre-bending. From Jay Lewis’ rippling cello arpeggios to Miriam Keller’s jazz-infused trumpet, the band embraces a wide variety of sounds and textures. And lo and behold, they pull it off. What could easily veer into a trite modernization of the down-home Americana genre instead becomes a singular, engaging sound.”

(2) A Really Cool Venue

Plush, located at 3224 Locust between Compton and Grand, has earned a reputation as one of the hippest, hottest, coolest (or whatever term you’d use for the highest level of a positive experience) venues for food, drink, and live music in St. Louis.  One recent review on Yelp described Plush as “as good at it gets,” while a review in the Riverfrtont Times last year was headlined, “Plush is the most ambitious drinking, dining and dance establishment St. Louis has seen in a decade.”  Get your tickets now to check out Plush in person on Saturday, Nov. 2.  And, if you can get there for dinner before the concert, be sure to mention that you’re there for the Community Development Rocks! concert to get a special deal on the meal.

The photo above is by Kate McDonald from St. Louis Magazine’s 2012 “A List” issue, which included Plush among their “Night Life” awards in the “Dinner and Dance” category.

(3) And, of course, a chance to support a Great Cause

When you support ONSLRG, you support the cause of urban core revitalization implemented in a manner that respects the community that lives there.  The best way to respect the community is to pursue their vision and to involve them in the process of making that vision a reality.  That’s what ONSLRG has been doing since it was created by residents of Old North in 1981.  Everything ONSLRG does is rooted in a desire expressed by community residents.  That’s why ONSLRG has taken on…

the preservation of historic properties - from small, single-family homes to to multi-family, rental buildings to large, institutional buildings, such as the Mullanphy Emigrant Home…

coordinating a farmers’ market in the heart of Old North since 2007 to bring healthy & affordable foods to the neighborhood…

Hosting theater, film, photography exhibits, and other arts programming…

Beautifying Old North through tree-planting, community gardens, supporting other green investments, and regular neighborhood-wide clean-up days

Improving neighborhood safety by establishing a police substation at Crown Square, hosting neighborhood watch trainings, and coordinating implementation of the City’s “Neighborhood Ownership Model”…

Bringing residents together regularly to plan, discuss, and review ideas or proposals for development in Old North…

Plus, all sorts of community-building social events, and so much more!

In addition to supporting ONSLRG by buying concert tickets, you can also buy raffle tickets at the concert or before!  ONSLRG’s tireless intern, Chris Umbertino, has lined up some phenomenal prizes for a raffle drawing that will take place at the concert.  See the flyer below for details.

Raffle tickets will be sold at the concert, but you can also purchase them in advance - either in person at the ONSLRG office or online. Just follow the link below for online contributions - and make a contribution along WITH a note in the comments/special instructions or other notes section to alert us that the purpose is for raffle tickets in your name.

We’d love to get as many people out to Plush on November 2 as we can get to support ONSLRG and to show our appreciation for the generosity of Five Eight, Last to Show First to Go, and Plush; and we’d love it if you could purchase a large pile of raffle tickets as a way of letting the prize donors know their contributions were worth it.  However, we also are willing to accept good, old-fashioned direct contributions straight to Old North St. Louis Restoration Group.  We can accept contributions in whatever form you’d like to send us:  cash (please not through the mail, though); checks (which can be dropped off at our office or sent by mail to 2700 N. 14th Street, St. Louis, MO 63106); or by credit or debit card - either in person at our office or online via PayPal by clicking HERE now or by clicking on the image below.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Old North Neighborhood Open Meeting Thursday, Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m.

Photo by missriverbridge photos
Photo by missriverbridge photos

Please join us this Thursday, January 31, for the Old North Neighborhood Open Meeting.  The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at Old North St. Louis Restoration Group’s gallery, 2700 N. 14th Street.

Speakers include:

  • A representative from MODOT to discuss how the new Mississippi River bridge and work on Interstate 70 will affect the neighborhood / traffic patterns;

    The new westbound I-70 exit at Madison opened this week.

    The new westbound I-70 exit at Madison opened this week.

  • A representative from the Heartland Conservancy to discuss the Mounds Heritage Trail;
  • Officer Wozniak of the 5th Police District to discuss the Neighborhood Ownership Model and other safety issues;
As the flyer says, “Everyone is welcome!”  Please help us spread the word, and invite your neighbors to join you.
Friday, November 9, 2012

Nov. 9 Edition of ONSLRG eNewsletter Is Out

The Nov. 9 edition of the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group e-Newsletter has been sent out to all of our subscribers.  If you didn’t get it in your email, click HERE to view the web-version.

This edition includes brief updates on :

  • the Missouri Immigrant & Refugee Advocates’ 3rd annual art exhibit at the ONSLRG Gallery (showing now through Dec. 2);
  • Great Rivers Greenway’s open house at ONSLRG to show off plans for Branch Street improvements and the Trestle conversion to an elevated hiking and biking trail;
  • information presented at the Oct. 25 Old North Neighborhood Open Meeting, including presentations on a proposed dog park for Old North and a sustainability-focused charter school;
  • ONSLRG’s Winter Craft Market, scheduled for Dec. 1;
  • Halloween in Old North;
  • Plans for a makeover of the Crown Square corner plaza at N. 14th and St. Louis Avenue;
  • the Sustainable Land Lab Competition for creative uses of vacant lots in Old North;
  • Links to the draft of the City’s Sustainability Plan for public comment;
  • Recent volunteer support, including students from the Episcopal Church of the Ascension;
  • and various upcoming events and programs related to neighborhood issues.
Whether you got this e-Newsletter in the mail or via the link right here, please forward to others who care about Old North and/or print out a copy to share with your neighbors who aren’t Internet-connected.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Picnic at the Iron Horse Trestle Thursday, July 7, at 7 p.m.

The conversion of the Iron Horse Trestle into an elevated hiking and cycling trail in the southeast corner of Old North Saint Louis will be a great recreational amenity for Old North residents and will attract visitors from well outside the neighborhood.  On Thursday night at 7 p.m., residents and friends of Old North will get a chance to learn more about the project and explore the trestle in person.   City Affair Saint Louis, “a forum for sharing ideas about the future of the St. Louis urban environment,” will host a picnic and discussion about plans for the redevelopment of the Iron Horse Trestle.  The gathering starts at 7 p.m. at Hadley & Howard and includes a walking tour of the trestle at 7:45 p.m.

Here’s how the City Affair blog describes the event:

For more information about the Trestle project, visit the Great Rivers Greenway page on the project.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch carried a story about the plans for the picnic (click here to read the online version) - and kindly repeated City Affairs’ encouragement that picnic-goers stop by the Old North Grocery Co-op to purchase their picnic supplies on the way to the event.

The image below and at the top of this post are courtesy of Great Rivers Greenway.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Branch Street Improvements & Iron Horse Trestle Plans Will Be Discussed at Meeting Thursday

Your ideas and feedback are requested as part of the planning process for improving the access to the Riverfront Trail from Old North along Branch Street.  The first public meeting and visioning session for this project will take place on Thursday, March 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group office and gallery, 2700 N. 14th Street.

As noted on the flyer, staff from Great Rivers Greenway will be on hand to provide an update on the plans for developing the Iron Horse Trestle into an elevated hiking and biking path from Old North to the Riverfront Trail.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Iron Horse Trestle Meeting Recap

Great Rivers Greenway held a public meeting last Thursday seeking input from residents of St. Louis for the proposed conversion of the Iron Horse Trestle into an elevated hiking and biking trail. The Iron Horse Trestle is a long-abandoned railroad bridge that crosses Interstate 70 and enters Old North St. Louis at 11th and Tyler.

Some of the ideas presented included separate bike and walking paths, using the trestle to generate its own power for lighting, green roofs on adjacent buildings, and restoring native vegetation on ground level portions. Plans also include areas for observation and markers with information about the area. The trestle will connect to the North Riverfront Trail as well as the McKinley Bridge. The bridge connection is currently being rebuilt and will open soon.

A few more images are available here, courtesy of Steve Patterson.

Some of the participants awaiting the presentation

One of the boards displaying some of the possibilities

Design Possibilities. Courtesy of Great Rivers Greenway.

Design Possibilities. Courtesy of Great Rivers Greenway.
Saturday, October 20, 2007

Public Meeting on Iron Horse Trestle

Great Rivers Greenway is hosting a public meeting for comment and discussion of the Iron Horse Trestle project that starts, or ends depending on your perspective, in the southern part of the neighborhood. It is planned for Thursday October 25, 5:00-7:30pm at Confluence Academy, 3017 North 13th St., St. Louis 63107. A light dinner and refreshments will be served.

5:00-6:00pm open house
6:00-6:30pm presentation about the project
6:30-7:30pm break-out sessions

The public forum will be an open house format at which attendees will be able to walk around at their leisure to view maps and information outlining the project scope and design opportunities, and talk to consultants one-on-one. Members of the consulting team will present an overview of the project summarizing the information followed by break out sessions to gather comments and feedback.

This trestle project is going to be one of only three reuses of this type in the world and has the potential to be an incredible neighborhood asset. Come to the meeting to share your thoughts and ideas for this great project.

Click on image for larger view.


Welcome to the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group's blog. What's New in Old North chronicles the dramatic transformation under way in the neighborhood of Old North St. Louis. As a neighborhood just north of Downtown St. Louis, Old North is becoming a dynamic urban village of new and historic homes, a landmark eating establishment, beautiful community gardens, and a diverse, friendly, and engaged community.


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