By Shawn Clubb
South City Journal
October 24, 2007

More than 300 homes existed in Dogtown when the 1900 census was taken. Many of them still exist.

"We drove around looking and looking and looking to make sure they're there," said Gerry Miller, a member of the Dogtown Historical Society's Century Home Committee.

Miller and her husband, Bill, have checked the area from Macklind Avenue on the east to McCausland Avenue on the west, Interstate 44 on the south to Forest Park on the north. Bob Corbett of the Dogtown Historical Society calls the area Greater Dogtown. In the early 1900s, it was still known as Cheltenham - a name that now applies to only a small segment of that area.

Gerry and Bill Miller
with century plaque in the background

The purpose of the footwork has been to identify Dogtown's century homes and give the owners of these homes the chance to have their properties recognized. Owners of these 100-year-old structures may purchase from the society a century home ceramic tile to display on the house.

The biggest part of the effort has been done by the Millers, who checked the census data to identify possible century homes, drove the streets to verify whether they still exist, and checked city resources to find the year of construction.

"The committee is pretty much down to one," Bill Miller said. "I do all the talking, but Gerry does all the work."

That work also includes sending letters to the owners of century homes informing them of their homes' status and letting them know they could purchase a tile for $50. The tile features a shamrock and the year the home was built. They have sent out more than 400 letters over the last few years and more than 70 people have responded.

Sally Sharamitaro of Affton worked on the committee. She calls the tiles "a way to display the history of your home."

The house near Crescent and Clayton avenues in Dogtown had been where her grandparents lived. It will reach century status in another year or so. It had sat behind a gas station her grandfather operated.

Sharamitaro said it means something to people to have their home be a part of Dogtown's rich history.

Some blocks have multiple century homes, including the 6500 block of Nashville Avenue, the 1200 block of Childress Avenue, the 6400 block of Lloyd Avenue and the 6800 block of West Park Avenue.

"Most significant is there are that many that are still in existence," Bill Miller said.

While the Millers have spearheaded the project, their own home on Lloyd Avenue is not yet a century home.

"It was built in 1930, so we've got a ways to go," Bill Miller said.


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Bob Corbett