Gayle O’Neill recently wrote a very interesting memoir on Carrollton’s early days.   She lived in Carrollton during the construction phase and her family was connected in Carrollton events!   I had never known that St. Lawrence Catholic School started out as a one-room schoolhouse on Grandin before the main campus was completed!   I also had never realized that members of the Carrollton community held theater performances for some time.   That is community involvement!    Many readers here share have shared similar experiences growing up in this subdivision, yet everyone has their own unique perspectives and livelihoods.  I love reading them all and  I hope you will enjoy Gayle’s echoes of a Carrollton childhood as much as I have!

From Gayle:
I am enjoying your commentary on Carrollton. Like many others posting, my parents were original owners purchasing what was known as the Windsor model, four bedroom style home in 1959. The two maples that were given to my parents by the owner of a nursery because our family station wagon sported a “Kennedy for President” bumper sticker still stand tall in what was our back yard on 4152 Chartley. They served as home and second for many a wiffle ball game in that yard. My mom, Marian Grindler, was very active in all that was Carrollton, including starring in many productions of the Carrolton Players, editor of the Carrollton Cracker Barrel and then later the Bridgeton Bookworm and playing a huge part of Bridgeton politics. As kids we attended the one room school house on Grandin that was the original St. Lawrence while we awaited the Dupage site to be completed. We attended mass in the basement of various parishioners before the church was built. Few families had fenced in back yards when we first moved in and evenings were spent playing games of hide and seek or tag that would extend over the length of the block. Walking to the pool meant cutting through back yards the four blocks to the Carrollton Club. My brothers, Gene and Gerry were life guards and their fraternity would sponsor the splash parties in the summer that the neighborhood teens would attend. Opposite or house was Primgahr Lane, which originally had only two houses and dead ended at a hill and field that stretched to the back side of Phruett’s Farm and Gist Rd where BMAC Fields are now. My dad and some of the neighbors posted a basketball backboard at the edge of the dead end street for all the neighborhood kids to use until Carrollton West was developed. We would also spend summer days playing in the woods and the creek that ran through there at the dead end of Celburne. Our one requirement was to be home when the streetlights came on. We knew who lived in almost
every house and almost every house had kids we knew as playmates. It was quite the idyllic childhood.

The Carollton Players were a group of residents that would put on plays about two or three times a year.  Many of the performances were at the Carrollton School but I also remember a few at the Carrollton Club.  My mom would usually have a starring role but she was also director forsome and I can remember a few that she also wrote and directed, speifically one that had a part for two Indians that were played by my teenaged brothers.. (Remember them in loin cloths….pretty funny)  Usually they were comedies but I remember they did Thorton Wilder’s “Our Town” once and my dad played the town drunk in that one. I can search for play bills.  Names I remember that also played parts…Glenn Strong (lived on Tuscan) Donna LaSalle, George Shakiris (Sp?)  I will ask my older brother if he remembers any more.  They did “The Man in the Dog Suit” and an old time melodrama called “The Drunkard” and I remember one that my mom’s character was Lady Pompidour…I will have to research that one.  They would run for any where from a weekend to three weekends and where very well attended and quite fun.

St.Mary’s in Bridgeton was, at first, the only Catholic parish.  As Carrollton grew, the archdiocese agreed to build a new parish in the neighborhood.  Father Horenkamp was the first pastor.  At first we had a gutted house on Grandin that held first, second, and third grade.  Anyone older than that still attended St, Mary’s.  I went to the Grandin school but my brother, a sixth grader still went to St. Mary’s  I attended second and part of third on Grandin and then the school building was completed and we transferred to the Dupage site. The home on Grandin did have two bathrooms and that was used for all of us.  We would have recess in the back yard.   Masses were held in the basement of willing parishioners.  I remember going to mass in the basement of the Rod White family home, which was on the upper corner of Lonsdale and Celburne.  (They had a daughter my age named Arleta)  When the home on Grandin was purchased it was a school on Mondays through Fridays and then the bench/tables were converted from tables to benches and mass was held there.

(I asked Gayle which house was the school-house. She had done some research and replied:)

St.Mary’s in Bridgeton was, at first, the only Catholic parish.  As Carrollton grew, the archdiocese agreed to build a new parish in the neighborhood.  Father Horenkamp was the first pastor.  At first we had a gutted house on Grandin that held first, second, and third grade.  Anyone older than that still attended St, Mary’s.  I went to the Grandin school but my brother, a sixth grader still went to St. Mary’s  I attended second and part of third on Grandin and then the school building was completed and we transferred to the Dupage site. The home on Grandin did have two bathrooms and that was used for all of us.  We would have recess in the back yard.   Masses were held in the basement of willing parishioners.  I remember going to mass in the basement of the Rod White family home, which was on the upper corner of Lonsdale and Celburne.  (They had a daughter my age named Arleta)  When the home on Grandin was purchased it was a school on Mondays through Fridays and then the bench/tables were converted from tables to benches and mass was held there.  St. Lawrence house was six from the corner.

(Thank you so much Gayle! Your story is another unique piece of the heritage and history of this space! Thank you for sharing your history with us!)

First, I present, The Crows and Pawns of Expansion, created in 2008.   Those who remember the Carrollton Club may immediately see a familiar image jump from the background.   I found the sign in 2007 after it was cracked in half and laying on the sidewalk.  Seeing that it was beyond repair, I decided to give it new life through art.  The work is oil and acrylic on the found sign.

Second, I present a piece I created for the Holga Polka exhibition at the Regional Arts Commission in January 2009.  The piece titled, In the Light, is oil on canvas painted from an accidential image found on a roll of Holga film.  Holga cameras are plastic toy cameras which often distort the image and if not rolled correctly within the case will sometimes overlap images on the film.  In the image for this painting, two separate images of a house on Chartley are imposed in the middle.   A fun experiment for a painter.  If you are interested in learning more about the Holga camera, I recommend my friend Mark Fisher’s webpage.  See my list of links.

If you are interested in seeing more of my paintings which have layers of planes infused into the primary imagry, feel free to look around my flickr page.

A witty and wonderful remberence from Dan:

Thank you for the effort you are putting into this site. I am sure it is consuming much more time than you had initially thought or want to put into it at this point. I’ts probably like a funeral that seems to never end. Just when you think visitation is finally over, another dear or distant friend walks through the door and sits next to you and begins to recall their memories of the departed and you learn something you never knew or affirm something in question.

Now it is my turn to come through the door. You can’t leave just yet. I used to live on the corner at 14819 Pont Drive where it joined Selwyn. The house on the other corner was on Selwyn proper. I lived there from 7th through 10th grades and went to Holman and old Pattonville High in St. Ann. That was 1960-1964. It was a great place to live back then.

I will probably die from melanoma contracted by the persistent annual sunburns at the pool. It’s where we were from open to close almost every summer day and our parents didn’t worry about our safety there or walking to or from. When I wasn’t there, I would be at the Ben Franklin or the drugstore at the shopping center. Sometimes, I told my parents I was going there and went to the Carrollton Lanes to play pinball and eat at the snackbar. It was definitely not parent approved. If melanoma doesn’t get me, it will be the second-hand smoke from that bowling alley that eventually does me in.

When it was really hot or rainy, we would sneak into the model sales homes. Continue Reading »

Curb repair?

I had the opportunity to travel through Carrollton on Thanksgiving weekend.   Not much has changed to my favorite valley of crackling strips of concrete and grassy hills dotted with once-ornamental trees.   The Carrollton Center Swimming complex, with its graffiti and trash-strewn algae pools and condemnable building still exists for reasons unknown.  No other building except the subdivision’s namesake exists.   Nature is easily pushing through worn out patches in the avenues and lanes, created through years of Bridgeton’s understandably haphazard repair.  Why permanently fix those roads when, in an indeterminate date in the future, those roads would be empty?  Brumley Drive already resembles Chartley Lane; one of the first streets to go and sealed off for decades.

Yet, the grass is still being maintained and mowed in a considerable fashion, streetlights, if standing and survived being shot at randomly still illuminate, and some roads for public travel are being maintained.   I photographed a curb repair job which, though well done, is rather confusing that it was done at all.  The road which the curb rounds towards is gated off and I can’t imagine a scenario in Carrollton where so much traffic flowing in opposite directions make having a broken curb problematic.   Alas, see the photo.

A few more observations.  First, I fly out of Lambert frequently, especially in recent days.   The use of the Runway 11-29 (the W-1W expansion runway’s official name) is still extremely limited.  Rare as it is, I did have the opportunity to land on the new runway a few days ago and saw from the low descent all the places I have trounced over recent years.   Through the passing dormant trees, I saw thick brown veins running through jagged concrete streets in the places where I have been forever banned from visiting again on foot.   Fellow travelers watching out their little oval windows gasped and commented on their thoughts of the desolate land below.  I caught one audible quip, “So this is St. Louis, the most dangerous city in America.  Sure looks like it!”    From an outsider’s perspective it would be difficult to imagine just how normal of a community once existed in this aerial tour of  post-apocalypse damage.

Another quip, “Why would someone ever build homes so close to an airport?”

That is a question I wanted to ask of Fischer & Frichtel, the builders of Carrollton in the 1960s.

I went into the F&F headquarters in May of this year, on a whim to find out if I could get some background information on Carrollton.  The secretary was extremely pleasant and did her best to contact anyone whom I may interview.    The company has been passed down in the family as the father had passed on.   The son now outsources much of his architectural needs on current projects and much of the Carrollton/Bridgeton home designs have been transferred to the City of Bridgeton for their historical archives.   Many of the original architects have passed on.

It may be time for me to visit City Hall once again.   If I am lucky, I will get to see the mid-century architectural plans for myself.   If I am extremely lucky, I may get to interview Conrad Bowers, the decades-long Bridgeton mayor and loud antagonist to the Lambert Runway Expansion plans.    I am admittedly nervous about interviewing people.   Yet my desire for answers to so many questions about the history of a place being slowly erased in my youth just might outweigh my interviewing inexperience.

I have so many rich stories about Carrollton saved throughout the comments section of the blog as well as  received through email.   From time to time, I will share or re-post these tales of the good life while we wait and see what happens to the land.

From Marsha:

My brother was visiting this Thanksgiving and we started talking about Carrollton. He asked me if I ever drove through there and I told him not recently because it makes me profoundly sad. My parents, Bill and Doris Davis had a home built at 4106 Celburne Lane and we moved in in 1959. We were there before 270 was built and behind our house was rolling hills where rabbits and many other wildlife lived. There was no Carrollton Elelmentary when we moved there. We rode the bus over to Pattonville Elementary where I attended the 2nd grade and part of the 3rd while Carrollton Elementary was being built. While in 3rd grade they were completing the second phase of the school. I lived one house away from the Community Center and Carrollton Club and the swimming pool. It was a great place to grow up for a kid. We built forts and sledded down the hill there. In the summertime we always were in the pool the day it opened and the day it closed. Often we went swmming twice a day. I spent countless hours on the ballfields there choosing sides and playing games with the other neighbor kids. There was alway someone to play with and something to do. I took tap lessons in the basement of the Carrollton Club. Went to Cardinal games with the counselors at the Community Center. It was the best place in the world for a kid to grow up. Although we moved to St. Peters in 1967, I will forever cherish the memories of my childhood growing up in Carrolton and Bridgeton. I always felt safe. Parents didn’t worry about our safety. It hustled and bustled with families and life. That is why I have such a hard time returning there. It is so quiet. No signs of the lives that grew and flouished there except for the trees that are left standing. Thanks to Mrs. Caswell, Mrs. Mayfield and Mr. Mayfield for being such wonderful teachers. I am so greatful for our wonderful neighbors, Randy, Rhonda, Rene and Rodney Shockley and their parents, Glenn and Virginia. The Wagners and the Koellers and Sloans and Hambys. The Williams who lived up the street whos daughter Wendy was an olympic diver. Chic was an icon at the Carrollton Pool. Coach Ink who ran the pool for as long as I remember. What a time. What a place. Thank you for documenting this special place and it’s careless demise. Marsha

So where does Times Beach come in?

By now you should know that I have a minor affliction for abandoned places.   Having a place that I once called home turn into an abandoned zone was the beginning, but my fascination still runs deep.   Someday, I hope to visit Pripyat, Ukraine.   Photographing abandoned farmhouses leaves me with a bittersweet fascination of the home’s history.  All of these places do not have a happy ending, Times Beach, Missouri, included.   It’s never a ‘happy’ ending when people are forced from their homes due to an ugly situation, and Times Beach was in a very nasty situation indeed.   However, the ending for Times Beach, known today as Route 66 State Park, is better than for most stories of abandoned places.

Continue Reading »

On occasion, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other sources (this article is good for a laugh at google translation)will report new information regarding the possible conversion of the new runway to a hub for Chinese imported goods.   The last time I checked in, Mid-America Airport in Illinois had already received a test flight from China.   However,  many politicans in Missouri, including Claire McCaskill, are still pushing for the Chinese hub at Lambert Airfield as a way to create new local jobs.

The idea of turning what was once Carrollton into a holding pad for cheap plastic goods created under questionable labor practices does not personally sit well with me.   This is because I am a former resident of the area and as such, I have fond memories of the place I once knew as my home. I have a personal attachment to the redbud tree my mom stuck in the ground as a flimsy stick and somehow grew up to be an impressive purple spectacular every spring.  Therefore, of course it makes me sad to think that tree may be bulldozed to make way for large metal containers of vogue cardigans and video cartridges.

Carrollton is gone.  Other than the natural elements that quickly came in to reclaim the land Lambert tore up, everything else that I recognized as a kid simply does not exist.   The old familiar memories are added to with new fond memories everyday, taking me further and further away from Carrollton.

I once argued for Carrollton to be turned into a park or nature reserve and I do still hold that small, selfish little wish. Continue Reading »

As part of the week- long Chautauqua Art Lab 2010, one such event, Built Environment / Blog Ecosystem / Media Landscape hosted by Jordan Hicks, will take place on Wednesday, May 5th at 7:00 PM.  The event will feature local bloggers who focus attention to preservation concerns in the St. Louis Area.  Bloggers invited include:

Alex Ihnen: urbanSTL

Alderman Antonio French: PubDef

Michael Allen: Ecology of Absence

Rick Bonasch: STL Rising

Toby Weiss: B.E.L.T

…and myself, Jami ‘Desy’ Schoenewies, to talk about 56 Houses Left.

I highly recommend taking a look at the above blogs: I am now truly a fan of each of them as they are in-depth, focused, informative and passionate about preservation in our area.   They admittedly dwarf the scope of 56 Houses Left and leave a sense understanding in why it is necessary to preserve and document our structures,  the new media available for documentation, and the reasons why people preserve and document their surroundings.

If you would like to attend this discussion, the address is: 
View Larger Map“>1310 South 18th Street (Lafayette Square), St. Louis, MO 63104.

Some of the questions we will be addressing include:

  • Who is your intended audience, and how well do you feel that you reach them?
  • We all know that online media offers greater accessibility – but how does the format affect your content?
  • What is your relationship with traditional media /journalism?
  • How does your online project affect your professional position – are there conflicts of interest or a kind of symbiosis?
  • What are your responsibilities running an online entity – is there a set of ethics that you follow?

Should be a very interesting discussion and one that I will be taking notes on as well as participating!  I hope to get a copy of the discussion and stream the recording if possible.

I will be finally graduating this May with my Masters of Fine Arts.   As part of the MFA thesis process, we are asked to put on an exhibition of our work at Fontbonne’s campus art gallery.   A group of us decided to take our thesis work one step further and look for a space  to accomodate a larger body of work.  Thus, SYNTHESIS was born.   In looking for a space, we decided to take on something outside of the normal gallery settings.   We looked to contacts and through a generous donation, we secured a portion of the Mark Lemp Footwear as an alternative venue site for our show!

Synthesis is a collection of work from eleven Fontbonne MA/MFA artists including myself.   Open to the public, the reception will take place on Friday, May 14th from 7:00PM until 10:00PM.    Refreshments will be served.   For additional information, as well as information on the progress of SYNTHESIS, go to our blog address at: www.fbuspring2010grads.wordpress.com

As a side note (and a connection for this blog), my artwork does incorporate airplanes.  : )

In addition to SYNTHESIS: The Exhibition, there will also be an on-campus exhibition of Fontbonne graduate work.  I invite everyone to Fontbonne University’s Fine Arts Building Gallery on Wednesday, May 5th from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM.  Refreshments will be served and you will be able to view works that will not be on display at the SYNTHESIS exhibition.

One last noteworthy piece of news.  I have been invited to participate in a roundtable discussion on architecture, preservation, and urbanism.  The discussion will feature a number of local artists and organizers and will be available for streaming or podcast.  I will post more information about this wonderful feature as soon as I have more details.    The discussion will be regarding my work for 56 Houses Left, and I will discuss the future of the book 56 Houses Left as well as the blog.

Thank you all!


I have noticed more stories in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch regarding a possible future side project for Lambert Airport becoming a Chinese Cargo Hub.

This story on Lambert’s beginnings appeared in the Post today.  I thought it was an interesting archival read for people curious about the airport’s beginnings.    Click here for the story.