Benton Park Neighborhood Overview
Information concerning the neighborhood history, characteristics, institutions and organizations, planning and development.
The neighborhood is defined on the North by Gravois, on the South by Cherokee and Potomac, on the West by Jefferson, and on the East by I-55.
The sale of the St. Louis Commons, the land that would become Benton Park, was authorized as early as 1836, but active platting of subdivisions did not begin until the early 1850s. Many of the historic buildings existing today date back to the 1880s and 1890s. The area of the park itself was at one time the City Cemetery. After bodies were removed to the Quarantine burial grounds on Arsenal Island, the area was converted to a park. Benton Park, originally known as the City Park, was created by ordinance on June 25, 1866.
The Benton Park area began to build up soon after the Civil War and, by 1875, had become a semi-urbanized district. Small- and medium-sized single-family dwellings were built on solid ground between the sink holes and underground caverns that honeycombed the area. One such cavern attracted William J. Lemp as new site for his brewery. The cave was used as a natural cooling cellar for the beer. The brewery became one of two principal breweries in St. Louis. Unlike Anheuser-Busch, its doors closed during Prohibition and never reopened.