Archive for the ‘North Market Place’ 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.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Join us Fri., July 24 for our 2nd Members & Friends of ONSLRG Happy Hour

Back by popular demand - Old North St. Louis Restoration Group will be holding another Members & Friends Happy Hour on Friday, July 24th from 4-6 p.m. at our ONSLRG Gallery, 2700 N. 14th Street. Whether or not you’re a current member or even if we don’t know you’re our friend yet, come on by to enjoy the company of others who’ve helped or are continuing to help ONSLRG revitalize the physical and social dimensions of Old North in a manner that respects the community’s historic, cultural, and urban character.

If you missed last month’s gathering, we’ve got a few photos to show what you missed - and to give you an idea of what’s on tap for this Friday.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

It’s Give STL Day… and 4 Days until Old North House & Community Tour

Give STL Day is a 24-hour, St. Louis area-wide campaign to generate online contributions for 790 nonprofits. Old North St. Louis Restoration Group is participating again this year - and we invite you to show your support for our work revitalizing the physical and social dimensions of the Old North neighborhood in a manner that respects the community’s historic, cultural and urban character.  Tax-deductible contributions of any amount, from $10 to $500 - or more, if you’d like, can be made by clicking HERE up until midnight tonight.

If you want to help us sustain the achievements we’ve made in Old North in recent years, make an investment in our capacity to carry out respectful and effective community-driven neighborhood revitalization. Click HERE to support a model of community development that works!


If you’d like to see for yourself the results of previous and ongoing investments by resilient and determined neighbors and outside supporters, we invite you to join us THIS Saturday, May 9 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at our annual Old North House & Community Tour. Tickets are still available at the low advance purchase price of just $12 each by clicking HERE.

Our previous post (click HERE to see that) offered some previews of what might be seen on this year’s tour. We now offer some additional previews.

Homes that Are Still in the Process of Making a Dramatic Comeback…

Homes that Have Been Recognized with Landmarks Association “Most Enhanced” Awards…

Homes that Are Not Quite Built Yet (but coming soon!)…

Beautiful Gardens, Parks and Yards…

The Old North Little Free Library will once again be on the tour, in the shaded beauty of Wingmann Park (which is actually one of Old North's 8 community gardens). Photo used with permission from an incredibly talented photographer, Neil Das, whose work is among the art on display at the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group Gallery. View more of Neil's work online at

The Old North Little Free Library will once again be on the tour, in the shaded beauty of Wingmann Park (which is actually one of Old North's 8 community gardens). Photo used with permission from an incredibly talented photographer, Neil Das, whose work is among the art on display at the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group Gallery. View more of Neil's work online at

Check back on Thursday for more previews of what you’ll be able to see on Saturday. Don’t let that hold you back from getting your tickets now, though.  Click HERE to get your tickets online - and invite all of your friends, family, colleagues, and others to come on out to see what makes Old North so vibrant!


Would you like to attend for free?

Want to attend the tour without buying a ticket - and get invited to the volunteer party after the tour? All you have to do is volunteer for a shift. Sign up on our handy form today –>


But, wait, there’s more!

When you’re not taking a leisurely stroll through a community garden or admiring the architecture and design of one of the homes on the tour, be sure to spend some time visiting the Spring Fling in the City vintage market along the 2600 and 2700 blocks of North 14th Street.  Crown Square will be bustling with activity as vendors sell all sorts of vintage items - just in time for Mother’s Day! - and with food trucks, beer from Four Hands Brewery, live music, and dancing led by the Lindy Hop Dancers.  So much will be going on here that Alive Magazine offered the following advice:

“Head to Old North this weekend for a huge selection of vintage and handmade items starring several of your favorite St. Louis makers and shakers. Live music, food, sweets and drinks will be available for your shopping pleasure! “

For more details about the vendors and activities going on at Spring Fling in the City, brought to us by Parsimonia {Secondhand with Style}, visit the Facebook event page by clicking HERE.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

6 Days to Go: Old North House & Community Tour (and More Before!)

We’ve got 6 days left before our annual celebration of all things that make Old North a vibrant, healthy, attractive and sustainable community.  If you haven’t already purchased your ticket, we invite you to take care of that right now via our secure, online ticket-purchasing option: click HERE to get your tickets for the advance price of just $12 each.

You can also purchase advance tickets in person by stopping by the ONSLRG office (at 2700 N. 14th Street, shown in the photo below) during regular business hours (9-5), Monday - Friday.

OR you can pick up your advance tickets by coming by the office TODAY, Sunday, May 3, from 3-5 p.m. during our opening reception for the Old North Community Arts Exhibit.

Above: ONSLRG Arts Committee chair James Anderson setting up the Old North Community Arts Exhibit, featuring works by people who live in, work in or have strong ties to Old North.

In addition to the opening hours today, the exhibit will be one of the featured stops on the Old North House & Community Tour.  What else might you see on Saturday, May 9 at the tour?  See below for a few images of some of the homes and other spots within Old North that’ll be open for tour-goers.

Of course there’s much more than we can show here.  To get the full flavor (including a FREE scoop of Crown Candy Kitchen ice cream) and feel of the neighborhood, come on out on Saturday, May 9 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Tickets on that day will be available for $15 at the Crown Square corner plaza at the southwest corner of St. Louis Avenue and N. 14th Street.  Advance tickets are available for purchase HERE.

While you’re in the neighborhood on May 9, be sure to visit the wonderful selection of vendors who’ll be lining the 2600 and 2700 blocks of N. 14th Street for the 3rd annual Spring Fling in the City vintage street market.  Details about that can be found by clicking HERE.


If you can’t make it to Old North on Saturday, May 9 but you still want to celebrate and support authentic, community-driven neighborhood revitalization, a community development model that has shown visible and quantifiable results in Old North, then we encourage you to consider a contribution to Old North St. Louis Restoration Group on GiveSTL Day this Tuesday, May 5. Click HERE for more details.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Just 9 days to go: Get Your Advance Tickets NOW for May 9 Old North House & Community Tour

Get your tickets now for the advance ticket price of just $12 by clicking HERE to purchase online or stop by the ONSLRG office at 2700 N. 14th Street during regular business hours.

And it’s not too late to volunteer with us at the tour - and then you’ll get to go for free!  Click HERE for more details and to sign up for a shift.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mark Your Calendars: Trivia Night, Brightside Clean-up, Young Artists Showcase & House Tour

The usual spring burst of activities in Old North St. Louis is upon us. We invite one and all to join us here in Old North for all of the following events that sustain and celebrate the best of neighborhood-driven community revitalization:

Saturday, April 11 - Trivia Night to Benefit North City Farmers’ Market and 13th Street Community Garden

As the poster above notes, individual tickets are available for $20 each, or if you can get a team together, tables of 8 can be reserved at $160.  Since space is limited, we strongly encourage advance purchase. This fun-filled event supports the continued operation of ONSLRG’s North City Farmers’ Market and the 13th Street Community Garden, which has provides fresh, very locally grown foods for the market. Click HERE to register for and purchase your table today!

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Also on Saturday, April 11 - Neighborhood-Wide “Brightside” Clean-Up

Residents and outside volunteers are invited to gather at the 13th Street Community Garden (just south of St. Louis Avenue, along the 2700 block of N. 13th Street) at 9:30 a.m. Courtesy of Brightside St. Louis, we’ll have trash bags available for use with litter pick-ups, and we’ll have extra support from St. Louis University students who will be participating in the university’s “showers of service” here in Old North. We look forward to seeing a lot of neighbors out that day as we clear away some of the debris and detritus that accumulated on the vacant lots and alleys of the neighborhood over the winter months. Anyone with questions or willing to help with supervising volunteers should contact Matt Fernandez ( or by phone at the ONSLRG office: 314-241-5031, ext. 101) or Gloria Bratkowski.

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Sunday, April 12-Saturday, April 25: St. Louis Artist Guild’s Young Artists Showcase

The 125-year-old St. Louis Artists’ Guild will bring their 41st annual Young Artists Showcase to Old North St. Louis this year. The exhibit, which features artwork created by 15-19 year-old high school students residing within 150 miles of the St. Louis Artists’ Guild, provides talented young artists with cash awards and scholarships, as well as the opportunity to compete in a professionally juried show. The opening for the exhibit will take place at our Old North St. Louis Restoration Group Gallery at

2700 N. 14th Street on Sunday, April 12 from 1-3 p.m. For more information about the exhibit, click HERE.

ONSLRG is able to make our gallery available for exhibits, such as this one, and bring other arts programming to the heart of Old North thanks to generous support of the Regional Arts Commission.

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Saturday, May 9 - Annual Old North House & Community Tour AND the Spring Fling Vintage Street Market at Crown Square

Start spreading the news:  this year’s Old North House & Community Tour will be bigger and better than ever!

we’re joining forces with the Spring Fling vintage street market so that attendees of our tour will have even more to see and do in Old North and so that the visitors to the very successful street market will be able to see more of the neighborhood while they’re in Old North.

To get your tour tickets now at the early bird price of just $10 each (the price for advance tickets will go up to $12 on April 18, and day-of tickets will be $15), click HERE to purchase online.

If you know of any businesses (or generous individuals) who would like to join us as a sponsor for this year’s tour, click HERE to learn more about the great benefits of sponsorship.

If you’d like to be a part of this year’s event as a volunteer (or if you know of volunteer groups that would be willing to send a crew to help us), click HERE for all of the volunteer info.

To keep posted on all of the developments and updates for this year’s big event, click HERE to visit the Old North House & Community Tour Facebook event page - and once there, be sure to click on the “Join” button so that all of your Facebook friends will be able to see that you’re planning to go.

And, for more info on the Spring Fling in the City vintage street market, visit their Facebook event page by clicking HERE.

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For questions about any of the above upcoming events, please feel free to stop by the ONSLRG office at 2700 N. 14th Street (63106, in the heart of Old North’s Crown Square; give us a call at 314-241-5031; or send an email to

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!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Winter 2014 Edition of Old North Community News Is Out

If you live in Old North, you can watch for the latest edition of Old North Community News to show up on your doorstep any day now. If you’re outside Old North and won’t get a chance to pick up a copy from the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group office or any the retail establishments throughout the neighborhood, you can read all the latest news by clicking on the photo below.

As you’ll see, the cover story shares ONSLRG’s plans for new houses on the 1300 block of Monroe Street.  Thanks to the approval of development gap funding from the City of St. Louis Community Development Administration, construction of 3 new homes could get started as early as spring 2015.

Since we’d like to get as many prospective buyers as possible pre-qualified for financing before construction gets under way, please help us in posting or distributing the flyer below. Click on the flyer to download a PDF version for printing or posting online.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mourning the Passing of Tom Tschetter, former ONSLRG Board Member, Expert Contractor & Rehabbing Guru

We were saddened to learn yesterday that former Old North St. Louis Restoration Group Board Member and Real Estate Committee chair, Tom Tschetter, has died.   All of us at ONSLRG extend our condolences to Tom’s wife, Susan.  Visitation is scheduled for Friday, December 12, starting at 9:00 a.m. at Grace & Peace Fellowship, 5574 Delmar Blvd, 63112, with the service at 10:00 a.m.

For many years Tom and Susan graciously opened their beautifully and painstakingly restored home on North Market Street for the Old North St. Louis House Tour - and it was always a "must-see" stop on the tour.

As ONSLRG's Real Estate Committee Chair, Tom was one of the select few who participated in a celebration on the evening when construction finally got underway (beginning with excavation for the foundation) for new homes at North Market Place in the spring of 2004.

As ONSLRG's Real Estate Committee Chair, Tom was one of the select few who participated in a celebration on the evening of the day when construction finally got under way (beginning with excavation for the foundations) for new homes at North Market Place in the spring of 2004.

As an expert carpenter and rehabbing guru, Tom was responsible for, directly involved with, or lent a hand in some way with numerous rehabs throughout Old North, including many Landmarks Association “Most Enhanced Award”-winning projects.  We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Tom for his mentoring of and assistance to countless rehabbers over many years, his service as an ONSLRG Board member and Real Estate Committee Chair, and so many other contributions as a volunteer, friend and neighbor.

In March of 2012, Tom and Susan, and their award-winning home, were featured in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch homes section, and as they always did, they took advantage of the opportunity to share their love for Old North.  Click HERE to see that blog post and for the link to the Post-Dispatch article and more photos of their home.

Tom, in the brown jacket and cap, was among neighborhood residents who volunteered their time on a bitter cold, January morning to board up vacant buildings so that they could survive the winter and later experience full historic rehabs.

Tom, in the brown jacket and cap, was among neighborhood residents who volunteered their time on a bitter cold, January morning to board up vacant buildings so that they could survive the winter and later experience full historic rehabs.

Tom will be sorely missed and appreciated for many years to come for the role he played in the revitalization of Old North.  If you ever find yourself driving through Old North admiring the phenomenal historic preservation that has taken place at so many homes, think of Tom.  No matter whose home you stop at, there’s a good chance Tom was involved in one way or another, whether as a contractor, volunteer, advisor, or friend.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Supporting Community Development in Old North on Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, & Giving Tuesday

Today is Small Business Saturday… please support the small businesses of Old North, including the retailers at Crown Square!

As a mixed-use community, Old North is home to many small and medium-sized businesses that employ residents of the community, attract visitors to the neighborhood, and provide valuable goods and services to residents of Old North and other neighborhoods.  The following is a list of some of the businesses and nonprofit organizations in Old North that may have items available for your purchase…

14th Street Artist Community, 2607 N. 14th Street

Better Life Cleaning Products, (to find a retailer or to buy online, visit

Blackmun Footcare, 2608 N. 14th Street

Boss Metal Fabricators, 1125 Montgomery St.

Building Futures, 2617 N. 14th Street

Central Print, 2624 N. 14th Street

Crown Candy Kitchen, 1401 St. Louis Avenue

ExKuisite Designs by Kimberly, 2611 N. 14th Street

Firecracker Press, 2612 N. 14th Street

Headhunters Barber & Beauty Shop, 2613 N. 14th Street

Kennedy’s Pet Shop, 2701 N. 14th Street

KRAV Boutique, 2717 N. 14th Street

La Mancha Coffeehouse, 2800 N. 14th Street

Marx Hardware, 2501 N. 14th Street

Northside Workshop, 1306 St. Louis Avenue

Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, 2700 N. 14th Street

Perpetua Iron Works, 2803 Blair

The Racq Salon & Spa, 2605 N. 14th Street

St. Louis ArtWorks, 2707 N. 14th Street

UrbArts (Urban Artists Alliance for Child Development), 2600 N. 14th Street

Zuka Arts Guild, 2701 N. 14th Street

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This Monday is Cyber Monday, which traditionally has been one of the biggest online shopping days of the year.  So if you’re shopping online on Monday (or any day of the year, for that matter), consider buying some Old North merchandise by clicking HERE.  ONSLRG t-shirts, mugs, and stickers make great presents!

If you want to purchase any merchandise available on Amazon, consider supporting Old North St. Louis Restoration Group by making the purchase via Amazon Smile ( and select Old North St. Louis Restoration Group as the non-profit to benefit from your purchase.  AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support ONSLRG every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at, Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization (which, we hope, is Old North St. Louis Restoration Group). On your first visit to AmazonSmile (, before you begin shopping you need to select a charitable organization - just type in “Old North St. Louis Restoration” in the search box, which will then bring up Old North St. Louis Restoration Group - and then you just click on the “select” button to designate ONSLRG as the charitable organization of your choice to receive donations from eligible purchases. Then the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. The site will remember your selection, and every eligible purchase you make at will result in a donation.

For more about the Amazon Smile Foundation, click HERE.

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But wait, there’s more!

According to

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

We’d greatly appreciate any support you could offer for ONSLRG on this Giving Tuesday.  One option for you is to click HERE or on the image below to make a financial contribution to help us continue our 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.

Or, you can click HERE to learn about ways you can volunteer some of your time with us.

We’d also like to know if you have any other creative ideas for helping ONSLRG continue the great progress we’ve made.  Feel free to comment here by clicking on the LEAVE A COMMENT link at the top left side of this post, or send us an email (to to let us know your idea.  As always, feel free to share this with others who might have an interest in supporting ONSLRG by clicking the envelope image with “EMAIL” under it, also at the top left side of this post.


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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