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Webster Groves, MO

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Chamber Letter

photoOn behalf of the Webster Groves Area Chamber of Commerce, I would like to welcome you to our area. The Chamber of Commerce is made up of three traditional yet progressive inner ring St. Louis suburban cities: Rock Hill, Shrewsbury, and Webster Groves.

The area has maintained a high quality residential life for over 100 years. Neighborhoods are filled with housing that ranges from quaint brick bungalows to stately Victorian homes straight out of "Meet Me In Saint Louis." People move here because they desire safe and secure neighborhoods and excellent schools for their children. Many live here for their entire lives because the sense of community is so prevalent.

The Area Chamber boasts many long established and growing business districts. You can stroll down the tree-lined streets of Old Webster and search for treasures at the many gift and specialty stores and perhaps rest on one of the shady park benches. Less than one mile away, you can browse for antiques or treat yourself at a day spa in Old Orchard where you’ll find giant apple sculptures designed by nationally famous artist Bob Cassilly. Or, you may choose to shop at one of the many shopping plazas, like Yorkshire Center, that dot the area.

photoLater, after your shopping is finished, you might want to take in a movie in Shrewsbury or see a production at the St. Louis Repertory Theatre in Webster. Your evening could conclude with an intimate dinner for two at Two Nice Guys, Webster’s oldest restaurant. Rock Hill’s Farotto’s offers a variety of pasta dishes. Shewsbury’s Raymond Slays, one of the region’s most popular and respected family restaurants, has a menu filled with delicious Lebanese and other Middle Eastern foods. Why not spend a night at one of the area’s Bed and Breakfasts like the lovely Oakwood Cottage? You can finish your visit the next morning with a tour of the Hawken House, built in 1857 and home of Christopher Hawken of Hawken rifle fame, and neighbor of Ulysses S. Grant, a frequent visitor.

The area proudly serves as world headquarters to Webster University. The University has almost 70 extended campuses located in cities and military bases across the United States. There are also seven campuses spread throughout Europe and Asia. The University’s goal is to become the world’s first truly international university. The campus is also home to the St. Louis Repertory Theater and Opera Theater of St. Louis.

Recreational opportunities abound at the multi-use Shrewsbury City Center and the Webster Groves Recreation Complex which includes a community center, tennis courts, and an outdoor pool complex and a year-round indoor ice arena. The Webster Groves YMCA serves the whole area offering members everything from swim lessons and teen programs to Kids Gym™ and kick boxing. Rock Hill offers neighborhood parks where families can picnic and kids can play. There are also two private golf courses nearby.

The area’s sense of community is enhanced by the involvement of more than 30 churches, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, and many service clubs including the Shrewsburians, the Kiwanas, the Rotary, and the Lions Club. The local newspaper, the Webster-Kirkwood Times, keeps residents and businesses informed of what is happening in the area. The business community is very active and can always be counted on to help out the local schools with fundraisers and sporting events. They also generously support community celebrations.

Please feel free to stop by or call the Chamber office, 962-4142, when you are in town; our able staff will answer any of the questions you may have, or put you in touch with someone who can.

Mike Oppermann
1999 Chamber President

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Welcome

photoThe Webster Groves Area Chamber of Commerce is made up of three St. Louis inner ring suburban cities: Rock Hill, Shrewsbury and Webster Groves.

photoWebster Groves, population 23,000, is home to many professionals, many in the management and education fields. Webster Groves is also the proud home of one of the oldest African American communities in the state; many of their ancestors settled North Webster after the Civil War. Along Webster Groves’ borders lies Shrewsbury, population 7,000 and Rock Hill, population 5,000. Families of various ages and backgrounds who desire safe neighborhoods, good schools for their children, and an active community in which to live form the cornerstone of all three cities.

The Webster Groves Area Chamber wants to thank its service-oriented residents, businesses, and schools for helping make the Webster Groves region a place people of all ages and ethnicities call home.

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Location & Transportation

mapThe Webster Groves area, comprised of the cities of Webster Groves, Rock Hill and Shrewsbury, is conveniently located along Interstate 44, with easy access to Interstate 64/Highway 40, the Innerbelt/I70 and Interstate 270. Because the area is a mere 20 minutes from St. Louis, residents take advantage of some of the finest transportation systems available. Lambert St. Louis International Airport, approximately a 20-minute drive from Webster Groves, is serviced by nine major airlines, five commuter airlines, four charter services, and nine cargo operators. TransWorld Airlines is the main national and international airline operating out of St. Louis; TWA has more than 350 daily departures to 90 U.S. and overseas destinations. Lambert St. Louis is the 11th busiest airport in the nation.

The City of Shrewsbury is working with various local agencies including the East/West Gateway Coordinating Council and Bi-State Development Agency to bring the next leg of Metro Link, the regional light rail system, to the community. Many of the people involved in this project envision that the Metro Link station would eventually encompass a world class, business-oriented hotel, new retail shops, and pedestrian and bike trails.

Both the Union Pacific and the Burlington Northern Railroads traverse Webster Groves and Shrewsbury. Many residents hope that one or both of the rail lines will eventually be used for commuter rail service in the 21st century.

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History

photoThe histories of the communities that comprise the Chamber area, each unique, share one common thread: each city planted its seed in the 1800’s. Today, nearly two centuries later, they continue to mature, feeding off the determination and desire for a better life embedded into the fertile soil by the proud hands of early settlers. Webster Groves, Shrewsbury, and Rock Hill have been transformed from rural suburbs of St. Louis into diverse communities that continually work hand-in-hand in order to achieve common goals. Our communities have developed in amazing ways since their beginnings, and promise futures equally as dynamic and extraordinary.

 

Webster Groves

Ten miles southwest of St. Louis is an area known until 1802 as the "Dry Ridge" to Missouri, Osage, and Dakota Indians and fur trappers. photoIn the early 1800’s this region, once a part of the Louisiana Territory, was changing from Spanish to French ownership; a system of land grants was inaugurated to promote immigration. During the early period of Spanish rule, officials gave land to settlers as a check against the English; in 1802, Gregorie Sarpy was granted 6,002 acres by Charles de Hautte Delassus, the last Spanish Lieutenant governor. The land grant covered the major area now known as Webster Groves, Missouri.

Webster Groves’ location on the Pacific Railroad line led to its development as a suburb. In the late 19th century, overcrowding, congestion, and unhealthy conditions in St. Louis prompted urban residents to leave the city for quieter, safer surroundings. In 1892 the developers of Webster Park, an affluent community which would soon become part of the city of Webster Groves, promoted the new community as the "Queen of the Suburbs," offering residents superb housing options in a country-like atmosphere and a close commute to downtown St. Louis jobs. Since then, Webster Groves’ tree-lined streets and abundance of single-family homes have been used as selling points by developers and real estate agents.

Yet, Webster Groves is not solely the wealthy commuter suburb that early developers planned for. Webster Groves is both geographically and economically diverse; Webster Groves has its origins as five separate communities along adjacent railroad lines. Webster, Old Orchard, Webster Park, Tuxedo Park, and Selma merged in 1896 in order to implement public services and develop a unified city government. The diversity of Webster Groves is evident in the variety of its neighborhoods; its success is rooted in the cooperation and willingness of community members from all walks of life to work together toward common goals.

 

Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury, Missouri was officially platted in 1889. The land which became Shrewsbury originally belonged to Gregorie Sarpy and Charles Gratiot; by 1890, it was divided into farms and sold to families. The area now known as Shrewsbury was a 278 acre farm owned by General John Murdoch. The Murdoch farm was called Shrewsbury Park, named after a village in England.

In 1913, concerned resident Joseph Burge organized the Shrewsbury Improvement Association to improve Shrewsbury and develop its first sewer system. Shrewsbury was incorporated and became a village in 1913; shortly thereafter a sanitation system was established, reducing water-born diseases prevalent at the time.

In 1938, the United States Government offered financial aid to the City of Shrewsbury and land was acquired for the construction of a new City Hall replacing the 1912 original. The new City Hall building was completed in October 1938. Shewsbury’s new fire engine house and state-of-the-art equipment were dedicated in 1947; it was during this period that the Shrewsbury Garden Club was formed to maintain the beautiful trees and flowers throughout the city. The early 50s were marked by the expansion of the public bus routes to connect Shrewsbury to St. Louis. The 60s and 70s were times of great community growth, noted by the construction of city parks, a municipal pool, and Interstate 44.

The ‘80s and ‘90s saw increased development of new homes, condominiums, apartments, shopping areas, and a new and improved City Center, which opened May 8, 1993 to coincide with Shrewsbury’s 80th year of incorporation.

The city hired its first City Administrator in 1997. The Shrewsbury Board of Aldermen recently concluded its plans for the next Metro Link extension. They also approved plans for a new aquatic center and allocated $4 million for street improvements.

 

Rock Hill

photoRock Hill, first inhabited by French pioneers, occupies territory included in early French and Spanish grants. These early settlers first came from Fort Chartres and established permanent homes in the great forests to the west of the Mississippi River trading post founded by Pierre Laclede. A large Spanish grant was awarded to early settler Jean Baptist Sarpy, who began selling some of his property, including the territory Rock Hill now comprises, in 1804.

Rock Hill derived its name from an old church named by a Presbyterian minister; as he travelled to the church to celebrate the founding of its congregation, the minister encountered two steep and rocky hills. The City of Rock Hill was born, and today is a thriving community of over 5,000 people and boasts lovely neighborhoods, five city parks, a vital business community, and wonderful restaurants and shops.

 

Interesting Historical Trivia

  • Several "Century Homes" in Webster are said to be haunted.
  • Rock Hill is rumored to have been part of the Underground Railroad.
  • Nationally famous artist Bob Cassilly designed and installed giant apple sculptures in the Old Orchard area of Webster Groves; the business district takes its name from the apple orchards that adorned the farms that stood before the settlers journeyed from St. Louis.
  • In 1915, a group of Webster citizens failed to recall 34-year-old Mayor William Biederman. Eighty years later, in 1995 a group of Webster citizens failed to recall 34-year-old Mayor Terri Williams. Both mayors, completely unrelated, lived in the exact same house in Tuxedo Park.
  • The television drama "Lucas Tanner" starring David Hartman was filmed on Maple Avenue in Webster Groves.
  • The 1966 documentary "Sixteen in Webster Groves," hosted by Charles Kurault, examined the city through the lives of Webster Groves High School students.
  • Our area is home to the Lofties Sisters, eight African-American sisters and their offspring who dazzle audiences with their incredible acapella gospel songs. The Lofties grew up in the Webster/Rock Hill area and now reside in Rock Hill, Shrewsbury, and Webster Groves.

 

Famous People From Our Area

Mary Engelbreit
Artist

Harry Carey
Sportscaster

Phyllis Diller
Comedienne

Ivory Crockett
Athlete

William Webster
Former FBI and CIA director

Marsha Mason
Actress; attended the
Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University

Reinhold Niebuhr
Wrote the "Serenity Prayer"—
Eden Seminary

Russ Mitchell
CBS Broadcaster

Dizzy Dean
from the
St. Louis Cardinals (Gas House Gang)

Dr. Kischler
Inventor of K-rations

John Lutz
Mystery writer;
wrote the book "Single White Female"

Bernice (Bunny) Aryes Peck
mother of actor Gregory Peck

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Homes

photophotoVisitors to Webster Groves are usually impressed by two features above all else: the trees and the homes. Nestled among clusters of elm, oak, and maple trees are gorgeous homes boasting large wrap-around porches, second and third stories, gingerbread trim, and abundant, verdant lawns. Webster has received the "Tree City USA" award for 15 years and is often compared to the historic areas of New England. Approximately 300 houses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and more than 100 homes have received the "Century Home" honor awarded by the Webster Groves Historical Society to homes at least 100 years old.

Contemporary housing options are also available for area residents; newer neighborhoods in Webster Groves, Shrewsbury and Rock Hill feature custom homes built by local developers and a variety of community living options such as apartments, townhomes, condominium complexes, and two-family flats. These safe, family-oriented neighborhoods are ideal places to raise children and enjoy the exceptional lifestyle that the area has to offer.

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