Benton Park

Benton Park is a historic neighborhood in St. Louis to the west of Soulard and south of Downtown.  The building stock in Benton Park dates from the 1880’s to early 1900’s (prior to 1910).

Most buildings are red brick singles families or 2 to 4-family flats.  Prices range  from $80,000 to $300,000 or more for a historic single family home or new construction.  Although almost all homes are over 100 years old most have been rehabbed completely or updated gradually with all modern systems and amenities

The park itself is the center piece of the neighborhood.  It is a modestly sized park of consisting of rolling hills, trees, a picturesque lake, tennis courts and many historically significant buildings that overlook its acreage.

The land that Benton Park now sits on was used as a cemetery until 1866 when the land was acquired by the city and converted to park and residential land.  The park and neighborhood are named for former senator Thomas Hart Benton.  Much like Soulard and the other surrounding neighborhoods, Benton Park was a working class neighborhood that was populated by German, Irish, and other immigrant enclaves.  Elements of these immigrants culture still persist today in Benton Park and the surrounding neighborhoods.

One such cultural aspect that persists in Benton Park is the presence of several breweries that were active in St. Louis in the early 20th and late 19th century.  Some of the greatest German brewers in the United States made Benton Park their home.  The reason for this is that St. Louis and Benton Park in particular sit on top of one the largest system of caves in the world.  Caves, as many people know, keep a constant cool temperature year round.  The German brewers decided to use this to their advantage by using the caves to store their product, thereby revolutionizing the brewing industry in the this country and making several local brewers some of the most successful in the country.  Both the Falstaff and Lemp Breweries were situated in Benton Park.  Anhueser Busch’s world headquarters remains in today Soulard bordering Benton Park on its east boundary.  The German brewers also used these caves to construct underground beer gardens that were comfortable for their patrons to come and drink year round despite extreme winters and summers that St. Louis is susceptible to.

Benton Park saw an enormous amount of investment in the late 1990’s and 2000’s during real estate boom cycle.  As the surrounding neighborhoods increased in value Benton Park was seen as an affordable alternative to investors and urban homeowner hopefuls.  As a result Benton Park’s stock rose greatly in the eyes of buyers and investors alike.  Today Benton Park is one of the most gentrified neighborhoods east of Grand.

 

Benton Park is also building a reputation as the restaurant capital of South St. Louis.  There are numerous fine dining establishments and local landmark eataries within the neighborhood boundaries.  Sidney Street Cafe is one of the finest restaurants the city has ever seen.  Niche and Frazer’s will appeal to the local foodie.  Landmark eataries that are a frequent stop for many St. Louis residents are Gus’ Pretzels, Venice Cafe, Hodak’s, and Blues City Deli.  Each and every one of these places has a very unique atmosphere that contributes to the overall feel of the neighborhood.

Another great asset to Benton Park’s vibe is the Cherokee Antique Row located on the southern border of the neighborhood (Cherokee St.) running from The Lemp Brewery to Jefferson.   Antique shoppers frequent this stretch, particularly on weekends, and several shops and restaurants have sprung up recently around the antique shops including a microbrewery, coffee shop, and vegetarian restaurant.  The Antique Row also merges seamlessly with Benton Park West’s section of Cherokee across Jefferson which is home to some St. Louis’ best international food stands and restaurants (particularly Mexican).

The Benton Park Neighborhood Association is a very active organization within the neighborhood.  They actively promote the neighborhood to attract new residents and visitors, raise money for improvements, oversee development within the neighborhood, and help deal with any problems local residents and businesses may have.   A strong neighborhood association means a strong neighborhood and Benton Park is no exceptions.

The Benton Park Neighborhood Association

 

 

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