Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Meramec Highlands revival

This story may not be thematically appropriate for "Mid-Century Dream," as most of the action takes place at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 21st--but I'm kind of excited about it anyway.

When I first heard about the Meramec Highlands resort that flourished briefly in the Kirkwood, MO area many years ago, I set out to see what, if anything was left of it. Turns out there was plenty to see; most of the cottages built in the late 19th century were still standing along a cozy little one-way street called Ponca Trail, the general store had been converted into an attractive residence (home, I believe, of Highlands documentarian
James Baker), and the old train depot was boarded up at the edge of the neighborhood. That was a few years ago. Yesterday I was in the area and decided to check up on the Highlands, and I was stunned to see that the depot has been converted into a beautiful home that's presently on the market for a million and a half! The developer has also built a new street paralleling the old tracks, and is in the process of building ten more new houses. Some of the yards back up to a common ground, and others touch on the still-charming properties along Ponca Trail.

Another bonus: The old railroad tunnel I'd heard so much about is now easily accessible from the end of the block. A wide walking trail has been laid from the cul-de-sac to the mouth of the tunnel, which has been partially bricked up to keep kids out of danger while letting the resident bats come and go.


Turns out there's been a lot of hoopla about the depot restoration lately, but none of it reached me: KMOV did a TV feature and sponsored tours of the depot last month, and Toby kindly brought these accolades to my attention. (Note the Neighborhood of Distinction award recipient in the Times article linked above: fifties-tastic Craig Woods, nearly untouched by the teardown plague!)

Now if they'd only rebuild the dance hall that used to stand atop the railroad tunnel...

26 comments:

Kathleen Schaefer said...

Thank you for the wonderful information which I am researching because my 94-year old-mother, whose maiden name is Leona Cadwell, comes from Valley Park. She had a stepfather starting in the year 1930 named McNeese and it is said that he was employed by a "resort" in the area as a watchman or caretaker, his nickname was "Duck". I plan to send her all the information available regarding Meramec, which incidentally, I spent many a summer swimming in with my friends.

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