Buildings can span generations. Changing and molding into whatever the times needs the structure to be. But the spirit of the building lives on in its new service and the memories of those who have been a part of life within those four walls.
The building now serving as Richmond Terrace Assisted Living Community, a Lutheran Senior Services community, is one such building that has had a few lives of its own. Originally constructed in 1932 as a schoolhouse for African American children in the Richmond Heights neighborhood, Richmond Terrace was first known as the New Lincoln School. Children in grades five through eight would attend the New Lincoln School, while grades one through four remained in the Old Lincoln School.
The Old Lincoln School was first established in a rented church on Dale Avenue in 1909. Before this, African American children in the neighborhood walked to Clayton to attend a school for African Americans. Parents in the neighborhood used a Missouri Law from that time saying that the school district was required to provide free education for African American children when a minimum of eight children lived in the district. That threshold was met and that’s when the church was rented to be an African American school in Richmond Heights.
A bond issue in 1916 provided funds for a two-room schoolhouse to be constructed at 8023 Dale Avenue. This building continued to expand to match the needs of the booming neighborhood, but it couldn’t keep up. Another bond issue passed in 1932, supporting the purchase of land at 1633 Laclede Station Road and construction on the New Lincoln School began.
In 1933, the enrollment of both Lincoln schools totaled 203 students. Just six years later, enrollment at the Lincoln schools peaked at 254 students. Lincoln school students enjoyed many activities including rhythm band that was so popular the group was asked to perform at other schools around the area. Lincoln school teachers were well-regarded and worked tirelessly to make sure their students received a top-notch education, standing up for their students in the segregated school system to make sure they had access to the newest textbooks.
The Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision in 1954 ruled segregated public education in the United States unconstitutional. Locally desegregation efforts began in colleges, then secondary schools before reaching elementary schools. The local high school was integrated and renovations were underway to make the New Lincoln School a full elementary school.
New classrooms were added to the New Lincoln School as was a gymnasium-auditorium, cafeteria and kitchen, and a new playground. The Old Lincoln School on Dale Avenue was closed and all students were moved to the New Lincoln School in 1955.
The 1963-1964 school year was the last year for the New Lincoln School as an elementary school. It was closed after that school year.
The building was back in use in the 1970s as a special education school. This continued until 1988. Ten years later, the New Lincoln School was reimagined as a senior living community. Many of the old features of the school remain. The brick was carefully matched so the building continues to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood. The gymnasium-auditorium became a dining room. In 2001, Lutheran Senior Services began operating Richmond Terrace Assisted Living Community.
The building on the corner of Laclede Station and Thomas Place in Richmond Heights has provided for many generations. In its days as a schoolhouse, children found a place to dream and grow. Now as a senior living community, older adults find the same opportunities.
Richmond Terrace is a Lutheran Senior Services Assisted Living Community. Lutheran Senior Services is built on a 160-year tradition of service excellence. Visit Richmond Terrace and learn more about our vibrant community by calling 314.884.7925.