April 4, 2019 by
Enjoy a little slice of big history in the Historic District of St. Charles, a colonial town located just half an hour away from the city of St. Louis.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived in St. Charles on May 16, 1804. And while the greater St. Charles area has turned into a sprawling metropolis, the riverfront town has carefully preserved its historic roots. Now included on the National Register of Historic Places, the neighborhood is home to more than 100 registered historic buildings.
Learn more about living in historic St. Charles, a charming community with tons to offer its residents (and future residents!) as well as visitors from across the country. With its elegant, decades-old homes and tons of amenities within walking distance, this neighborhood is truly one of a kind.
Neighborhood Fast Facts
- ZIP Code – 63301
- Walk Score – Very Walkable (68-79)
- Transit Score – Minimal Transit (0-15)
- School District – St. Charles R-VI School District (PK-12)
- Median Home Price – $189,000
Historic St. Charles: Description and Summary
St. Charles was founded by the French in 1769 as Les Petites Cotes, or “The Little Hills.” Located on the banks of the Missouri, ownership of the river town changed hands from France to Spain before the United States assumed control in 1804 – a result of the Louisiana Purchase. In May of the same year, St. Charles served as the launching point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
The Historic District of St. Charles was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, with three subsequent boundary increases, in 1987, 1991 and 1996. Many of the oldest commercial and residential buildings trace their roots back to the late 19th century. Old Town St. Charles real estate features the Greek Revival, Late Victorian and Italianate architectural styles. Today, the brick-paved Main Street serves as the heart of the St. Charles Historic District, with dozens of carefully preserved shops and taverns for visitors to enjoy.
Festivals and Attractions
Renowned for its quaint, cobblestone roads, Main Street in St. Charles offers a historical experience for residents and tourists alike. In addition to the specialty boutiques, restaurants and historical sites, the area hosts several prominent festivals year-round.
Notable attractions in historic St. Charles include:
- Shopping on Historic Main Street
Who needs the mall when you can visit a 14-block historic shopping district? What was once a settlers’ outpost now boasts dozens of specialty shops, from jewelry to artwork, home décor, food, clothing and more. See our local shopping recommendations below!
- Registered Sites for the History-Lovers
Satisfy the history fanatics in your family with a trip to the first capitol of Missouri, the Missouri Artists on Main gallery, the Foundry Art Centre and, of course, the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Museum.
- The Katy Trail
A whopping 240-mile trail coursing alongside the Missouri River runs near to Main Street, by Frontier Park. This trail is frequented by bicyclists and runners throughout the year, and offers stunning views of the mighty Missouri.
You will also want to mark your calendar for these renowned festivals in the area:
- AUGUST – Festival of the Little Hills
Cap off summer break with the area’s largest festival of the year. With more than 300 craft booths, artist demonstrations, live music, and food and beverages, this weekend-long festival has something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
- OCTOBER – Legends & Lanterns: A “Spirited” Journey Through Halloween History
During the month of October, Main Street is visited by ghosts, witches and other legends from the great beyond. These lantern-bearing creatures bring old world ghost stories to life, for a Halloween event that’s both spooky and spectacular.
- NOVEMBER-DECEMBER – St. Charles Christmas Traditions
A month-long festival kicks off just after Thanksgiving, and includes Olde Time holiday decorations, caroling, a parade and more. Another bonus? Christmas Traditions includes a variety of both free and ticketed events.
For a full list of events and attractions in historic St. Charles, visit www.discoverstcharles.com.
Doug Meyer, Broker-Owner of Meyer Real Estate and Historic St. Charles resident, shared a few of his favorite spots for good brews and even better food:
- The Old Millstream Inn: “Huge variety of drinks, with a great patio and cozy bar area. The patio is sunken off the street and sits by a creek, so it is always a bit cooler than the surrounding area.”
- Frankie Tocco’s Pizzeria: “Great Italian food and a good atmosphere.”
- Crooked Tree Coffee House and Picasso’s Coffee House: “In my opinion, Crooked Tree has better food – but real coffee lovers will appreciate the pour-over method at Picasso’s. Truly an experience. Honorable mention goes to Sucrose Bakery.”
Meyer Real Estate Office Manager and Historic St. Charles resident Dee Barteau, recommends these Main Street boutiques for a unique shopping experience:
- LoveMyBackyard: “I always find cute things for my desk, fun jewelry and great backyard décor.”
- The Homestead: “My go-to for home décor and decorating inspiration.”
- Olde Town Spice Shoppe: “An adorable little family-owned store with a huge variety of teas and spices.”
What Residents Say About Living in Historic St. Charles
Looking at homes for sale in St. Charles’s historic district, or just curious about the neighborhood? There’s no better person to ask than a local resident (or two). Below are answers to frequently asked questions from our local resident-experts, Doug and Dee.
What do you enjoy the most about living in the historic district of St. Charles?
- Doug: “Several things! I appreciate the beautiful, varied housing. I can walk to festivals, parks, bars and restaurants. I have great access to I-70 and a wonderful neighborhood. The best thing is being by Frontier Park with all of the activities (like Oktoberfest!) and the Katy Trail.”
- Dee: “I enjoy knowing my neighbors. We actually talk over the fence and have coffee on each other’s back porches. We also watch out for each other when someone is gone or on vacation.”
What do you enjoy the most about living in a historic home?
- Doug: “I have a COOL house with a sense of history and belonging in the community. It is truly unique – there’s no other home like mine. It was made like a brick outhouse and will be standing for a long time to come. Located on a good lot in a good area.”
- Dee: “I love all of the hardwood floors and arched doorways. Our plaster walls keep a constant temperature, which comes in handy year-round.”
Any advice for people thinking about living in a historic home?
- Doug: “You’ve got to like maintenance! The floor plan is also a bit outdated for today’s lifestyle, though it has seen several changes. The house originally faced Main Street, which is now behind us. The current front door enters into the kitchen, and what was the front door is now a fireplace. The old side door is now the rear door.”
- Dee: “My house, like most that were built prior to the 1970s, has a cinderblock foundation. These are more prone to bowing and buckling than todays poured concrete foundations.”
Do you know any specific history attached to your home?
- Doug: “My home was originally built for an older relative by the folks who owned the winery behind it. The home was eventually sold to the family of a local veterinarian, then to another wine-producing family, and then to my family. In almost 80 years of existence, it has only housed 4 families. That has to say something about what a great house it is.”
- Dee: “My home was built for two sons and their wives, by the owner of the home next door.”
Find Your Perfect Historic Home with Meyer Real Estate
Whether it’s your first home or your next home, the team at Meyer Real Estate is here to help you find a place in your ideal neighborhood. Historic St. Charles is renowned for its stately homes, with unique architectural features and timeless quality. And with 60 years of doing business in the greater St. Charles area, you can be sure that no one knows the neighborhood better than Meyer Real Estate.