Our History

Our History

The City of Glendale was named after a small station between Webster Groves and Kirkwood on the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Glendale was a sparsely settled area of elegant country homes and estates around the time of the Civil War. First efforts to incorporate the area as a village were made in 1912 when a meeting was held at the home of H. F. Nichols, a member of the town’s first Board of Trustees. Others serving on this Board were S. E. Jones, R. Brascher, A. H. Duncan, and T. H. Kavanaugh, with George B. Logan acting as the first attorney for the newly formed community. It was 1916 when Glendale became a fourth-class city, and by 1920, the population of this purely residential community stood at 749.

Boundaries of Glendale were extremely flexible, as shown by the addition of several sections and the dropping of others from the city’s map. In April 1920, residents voted to exclude from Glendale the portion lying south of Lockwood Boulevard; in July of that same year, by an overwhelming majority of 32 to 2, they voted to reinstate the area. Residents of that section had their ideas, however, having themselves voted to secede, and the area was not reincorporated into Glendale. Limits of the city were firmly established by 1932 and have remained settled ever since with boundaries of Manchester Road on the north, a line just south of Lockwood Boulevard on the south, and the city limits of Webster Groves and Kirkwood on the east and west. Population increase has been steady rather than spasmodic until in 1970 the count was 6,981, just under ten times the 1920 count. Glendale’s growth has been mirrored throughout the county area, as more and more residents have been drawn by the suburban concept of living.

Two of the main thoroughfares of the City of Glendale are Sappington Road, which runs north and south, dividing the city, and Lockwood Boulevard, which forms the community’s southern boundary line. Sappington Road is one of the county’s oldest roads, initially serving to carry traffic to the tannery established in 1815 by John Sappington on land now part of the South County community bearing the Sappington name. Born in 1790 in Kentucky, John Sappington came to Missouri in 1806 with his father and 16 brothers and sisters. After purchasing farmland, he enlisted for duty in the War of 1812, serving under Col. Nathan Boone, son of the famous Daniel Boone. He returned from the conflict to establish not only the tannery but a flourishing family of eleven children, many of whose descendants are still residents of this region.

Lockwood Boulevard, the main street of Webster Groves, extends westward from the city to form the southern edge of Glendale. This long and important street bears the name of Richard J. Lockwood, whose pre-Civil War home, set in a huge grove of trees at Lockwood and Big Bend Boulevards, was sold in 1922 to the Sisters of Loretto. Now on its spacious grounds stands Nerinx Hall, the nucleus of its central building formed by the old white frame Lockwood house. Lockwood was instrumental in the building of the graceful stone Emmanuel Episcopal Church, which still stands in the triangle formed by the intersection of Lockwood and Big Bend Boulevards, and which will celebrate its hundredth anniversary in a few more years.

The City of Glendale, incorporated in 1916 as an exclusively residential city, has always been known for its gracious homes and its desirable qualities as a family community. Most of the city is restricted to one-family units, and construction and growth have been gradual and planned, with the resultant effect of a general harmony of home styles and landscaping. Many old country homes, some of them dating back to the time just before the Civil War when St. Louisans began to build country homes as summer retreats from the city’s heat, and some dating back to the early pioneer farming days, are still to be seen in Glendale. The oldest of these is the A. W. Schisler's home at #9 Hill Drive, which traces back to 1808. A simple log cabin serving as a home for a farm family, the structure was remodeled for the first time in 1836, when an addition was made to its original two rooms. Now, this section, its log walls still exposed, forms the dining room of the home which has grown up around it, and provides a link with the historic past of St. Louis County–a time when Missouri, a territory still 13 years away from statehood, was governed by Meriwether Lewis of western expedition fame, and when the first newspaper west of the Mississippi River was just being established by Joseph Charless, a native of Ireland, who had fled to the United States during the 1795 Irish Rebellion. St. Louis and its suburban areas are rich in historic associations, and tradition is much in evidence in the area’s institutions.

Although the City of Glendale draws its name from a small station along the Missouri Pacific Railroad, between Webster Groves and Kirkwood, the area in which that station stands is no longer a part of the community. That section, now separately incorporated as Oakland, was dropped from Glendale by-election in 1920, and two subsequent efforts to reinstate it, again by-election, have failed. In 1882, however, the name Glendale served not only the railroad station and the surrounding neighborhood but also a first-class boarding school for boys. Individual instruction was the order of that day–at the time the school opened, there were exactly two pupils! Within a year, however, that number had swelled to 22. Superintended by E. A. Haight, the school was located in the elegant mansion of a 14-acre estate known as the Leighton property. Its original owner, Col. George E. Leighton, had come to St. Louis in 1858 and had but shortly afterward distinguished himself as an officer in the Union Army under General H. W. Halleck, successor to John Charles Fremont as Commander of the Army of the West. His post-war career was law, in which he was active as an attorney for the railroad until 1875. Glendale’s present school system provides only for the elementary grades, with students of the higher grades attending either Webster Groves or Kirkwood High School.

The City of Glendale, a residential suburb, expresses its spirit of neighborliness in a variety of community clubs and activities. Within the city limits is the gracious Algonquin Country Club, a social and recreational organization attracting members from many parts of the county. An active garden club provides a stimulus for constant scenic improvement of the city, and noteworthy accomplishments of many kinds are credited to the Glendale Women’s Club, which dates its beginnings back to the city’s early days. Then, meetings of the Women’s Club were held at the firehouse, the only public gathering place in town, and providing room for the ladies meant first moving the fire-fighting equipment out of its accustomed place. The ringing of the fire department’s telephone during meetings occasioned consternation not only to the temporarily displaced firemen but to the ladies. Each of them was afraid it might be her house that was burning. The present-day Women’s Club counts among its projects one unique and extremely worthwhile venture, a community Red Cross blood bank contribution service that entails a 100 percent canvassing of the city for donors, and makes any city resident eligible for receiving blood in an emergency. Community service is almost taken for granted in Glendale, where a tradition of friendliness has always prevailed.