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News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Walter Pritchard, Soaring High Media Group

314.338.1436 | walt@soaringhighmediagroup.com

 

“Strengthening the Village” is theme of annual Lewis Place neighborhood festival September 21

 

Development pioneer Nesby Moore Jr. to be honored

 

St. Louis, MO – September 16, 2013 - The Lewis Place Historical Preservation, Inc. is hosting its 11th Annual Neighborhood Festival on Saturday, September 21 from 11 am to 5 pm at 4600 Lewis Place in the parkway at Marcus. This year’s theme is “Strengthening the Village.”

 

The festival is also a fundraiser, dedicated to saving the historic Lewis Place community and firming up its legacy. This year festival is recognizing the Union-Sarah Economic Development Corporation and its iconic leader, Nesby Moore Jr. Union-Sarah played a significant role that helped pave the way for Lewis Place’s success today.

 

“Come learn more about the history of this organization and how it inspired us to take charge of our own ongoing success,” said Malaika Horne, festival chairperson.

 

The historic Lewis Place neighborhood – the center of federal court battles in the 1940’s that was the beginning of the end of housing discrimination - was hit by a rare urban tornado New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2010 tornado. The storm wrecked havoc surrounding communities in North St. Louis City.

 

Many homes were badly damaged by the fierce winds and many homeowners were either displaced or forced to live in challenging conditions. Many of the residents are elderly with under insured or no insurance.

 

The good news is the friends, neighbors, government, various church- and community-based organizations and government agencies rallied around Lewis Place to help residents in the recovery process, which is still going on.

 

Union Sarah Development Corporation

Under the direction of Nesby Moore and the Union Sarah Development Corporation, the memorable “Sky's The Limit” mural on the west wall on what once was called the Central West Plaza Building at Delmar Blvd. at Euclid Ave, depicted the optimism of the African American community. The mural is accompanied by a poem, We Rise, by St. Louis poet Shirley Le Flore.

 

The multipurpose Central West End Plaza Building (formerly the old General Van Lines Building) was renovated by the purchased by Union Sarah to provide warehouse and commercial space. Across the street at the corner of Delmar and Kingshighway, the Central West Shopping Plaza, also developed by the Union Sarah, included a 40,000-square-foot building leased to the old National Supermarkets, opened in 1984, and space leased to Rozells Men’s Store, F. W. Woolworth, Payless Shoes, and other retail and commercial enterprises.

 

Union Sarah is responsible for the eleven-foot, Martin Luther King, Jr. bronze statue in Fountain Park. In conjunction with the Fountain Park neighborhood association, raised $43,000 for the project, including the hiring the sculptor Rudolph Torrini.  The statue was cast in Florence, Italy. 

 

A family fun festival on Lewis Place

Organizers of the festival encourage residents and non-residents, especially those who formerly lived in the Lewis Place neighborhood, to bring family members, friends and neighbors and make new friends, celebrating the rich history and culture of this spirited and enterprising community. There will be loads of free family fun for all ages including live music, spoken word, children’s games and more.

 

Delicious meals such as barbecued ribs, chicken and potato salad as well as homemade desserts will be sold at $12 a plate.  We’d love for you to prepay for this meal by Wednesday, September 18 by 5 PM.

 

Friday, September 20, the day before the festival, lunch meals will be available from 11 am to 2 pm, also at $12 per plate with free delivery. You must place orders by Wednesday, September 18 by 5 p.m. for your lunch.  This is something new we’re adding this year.

For pricing for Friday, September 20 lunch orders, the Saturday September 21 meal orders, advertising in the souvenir booklet, booth space and sponsorships ( All contributions are tax deductible), and for more information, contact Pamela Talley at 314-535-1354 or via e-mail at talleypam@att.net. The website is www.LewisPlaceSTL.org.

 

Lewis Place residents fought housing discrimination in St. Louis

Lewis Place, like many other neighborhoods in St. Louis during the periods between 1910 and 1945, barred African-Americans from certain streets with the use of restrictive covenants. The covenants were agreements between white homeowners to exclude the sale of their homes to African-American perspective buyers.

 

In the 1940's, a group of determined African-Americans led by Attorney Robert Witherspoon, husband of the famed social activist Dr. Fredda Witherspoon, decided to fight the Lewis Place restrictive covenant.  As it was, fair-skinned African-Americans who were able to pass for white to purchase several homes in Lewis Place. However, once the purchases were completed, they then transferred the deeds to the actual owners of the properties, who voted down the restrictive covenant governing the sales of the housing in Lewis Place.

 

This movement led to the legal thrust that catapulted the St. Louis case of Shelly vs.Kraemer into the U.S. Supreme Court. This landmark case struck down restrictive covenants across the entire country, thus opening the doors to a new set of fair housing regulations on the federal, state, and local levels. Following the Shelly vs. Kraemer case, African-Americans slowly began to gain the right to purchase homes in any neighborhood of their choice.

 

 

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