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Louis in the late 19th century. If you lived in this city years ago, you probably reeked. The people around you reeked.


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The bath house in Old North St. Louis on St. It was also the last bath house in operation, staying open untilat which point indoor plumbing had become standard in most residences, whether added or built in.

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To get an idea of why bath houses were created, one has to look at the housing stock and living conditions of poor and working class people in 19th century St. In the s, indoor plumbing was not available for even the most wealthy St. Louisans, as can be seen with some of the mansions in the area from that time period like the Campbell House or Chatillon DeMenil mansion. By the s, many of the wealthy residences had been fitted with toilets and bathtubs, or were built with them, such as the Cupples House.

However, many of the poor and middle class households were still reliant on outhouses, and had to fill a small washtub with water, which had to be filled at a pump.

As a result, bathing was not a common practice in the 19th century, and many people were dirty. To solve this problem, the city began to build public bath houses in the poorer neighborhoods, as well as those with older housing stock. The first one was built in in the Columbus Square neighborhood near St. In its first year, this bath house had 69, visitors, so two years later, another was built in Soulard, and it servedpeople in its first year.

Two more were built inwith one in Carr Square and one in Midtown. The one in Midtown became segregated later on after a segregation law was passed.

Ina second segregated bath house was built in the Mill Creek Valley, which was a historic African American and immigrant neighborhood, where almost none of the houses had indoor plumbing, a fact that contributed to the wholesale demolition of the neighborhood in for an urban renewal project. The house in Old North was built inas the housing in the neighborhood was not fitted with indoor plumbing until the s and later.

Today, this bath house on St. Louis Ave is the only one surviving, as the others were demolished for urban renewal projects or lack of use for them.

Central West End. Hyde Park. Lafayette Square.

Old North St. St Louis Place. Other North St. Louis Neighborhoods. Other South St Louis Neighborhoods. Historic Walking Tours. Jul 1. Nathan Jackson.