National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior

National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Downtown East St. Louis Historic District
Reference Number 14000622
State Illinois
County St. Clair
Town East St. Louis
Street Address Portions of Collinsville, Missouri and St. Louis avenues
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 9/17/2014
Areas of Significance ARCHITECTURE, COMMERCE
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The Downtown East St. Louis Historic District appears to be locally significant under Criterion A for COMMERCE and Criterion C for ARCHITECTURE. The district is the last remaining contiguous group of cultural resources related to the twentieth century economic growth of East St. Louis, Illinois. In the first three decades of the twentieth century, two cities were growing rapidly on the banks of the Mississippi River below its confluence with the Missouri. While the fame and fortune of St. Louis was already well assured, its neighbor across the river, East St. Louis, was an insurgent urban force. The emergence was staggering: in 1900, East St. Louis had a mere 29,734 residents, but by 1930 that number was 74,397. Between 1900 and 1928, downtown East St. Louis was remade from a modest city center into a central business district built on a scale anticipating future growth. The core of downtown East St. Louis gave rise to buildings of as much architectural refinement as contemporary buildings in St. Louis, but with a distinctly local mark. East St. Louis' embrace of urban modernity would be shaped by local designers like Albert B. Frankel and J.W. Kennedy, St. Louis' Mauran, Russell & Garden and William B. Ittner, and Kansas City's Boller Brothers. The remaining architecture of downtown East St. Louis shows signs of open experimentation, like the Murphy Building's bakery brick facade, the Ainad Temple's boldly Moorish style, and the Sullivanesque ornamentation of the Spivey Building, alongside many examples of traditional one and two-part commercial blocks. By 1930, downtown East St. Louis could boast a modern air-conditioned movie palace seating over 1,700; a hotel capable of hosting statewide conventions; a skyscraper employing the design tenets of the progressive Prairie School; well-designed banks; office buildings of all sizes and styles; and department stores and other retailers. In 1960, with a peak population of over 82,000 residents, East St. Louis publicly was named "All America City" but the city nearly immediately began a precipitous decline. The period of significance begins in 1900, when the oldest building likely was built, through 1960, when the decline of the District was evident.

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria