AS BULLDOZERS began to demolish Evans Place in Brentwood
earlier this year, two teen-agers, Carrine "Nikki" Allen and
Recardo Gibson, looked for a written history of their 90-year-old
They found none.
This neighborhood had been their home for nearly two decades.
They had skated on Black Creek. They had played ball on empty lots.
They had talked with friends outside until the street lights came
on. Now, Nikki and Recardo and more than 200 other people had to
Developers had bought more than 100 small, frame houses in the
historic black neighborhood to make way for a $170 million shopping
and office complex at the southeast corner of Highway 40
(Interstate 64) and Interstate 170. The project, called Promenade
At Brentwood, is being built by ORIX Real Estate Equities Inc. of
Chicago and Sansone Group of Clayton.
"With the death of the community, the history would die as
well," said Nikki and Recardo, both 17 and both juniors at
Brentwood High School.
So they compiled the history themselves. They photographed
buildings, interviewed several dozen residents, copied newspaper
articles and gathered census figuresa
"As former residents, we felt it was our duty to tell the story
of Evans Place, which was the predominant black influence on
Brentwood," they wrote. "We wanted to show what could happen to any
Their research won four prizesp in a Missouri History Day
competition last month. They have qualified for the National
History Day competition June 15-19 at the University of Maryland at
Nikki and Recardo did their work for a 20th-century world
history class taught by Maryann Shephard. Four of Shephard's other
students also won prizes in the state history competition for other
Shephard said: "We were bowled over. We are very proud of them."
Brick By Brick
Nikki and Recardo turned to residents and city directories to
learn the early history of the neighborhood. They found that Evans
Place probably got its name from the Evens and Howard Fire Brick
Co., a business listed in an 1880 city directory. They learned that
the company had employed many residents of the Evans Place
neighborhood, and many people had moved to Evans Place to work for
The brickyard workers would go to lunch at Mamma Dukes, a
restaurant and confectionery that Ardella Dukes operated from a
house on Rose Avenue. A relative also ran a beauty shop there.
Evans Place had its own churches and a school, L'Ouverture School,
which opened in 1925 but closed 33 years later because of
Nikki and Recardo visited the St. Louis County Government
Center to examine St. Louis County neighborhood maps. At first,
they were unable to find some streets on the Evans Place map. They
turned a few pages and found the streets in a subdivision called
Howard Place established in 1907. They found Evans Place had been
two communities - Howard Place and Evans Place. …