By Trish Muyco-Tobin
Ask any Webster Groves resident what’s best about their town, and you’ll likely hear, “It’s close to EVERYTHING!” And let there be no doubt: This “Queen of the Suburbs,” truly is about location, location, location.
For the first part of the 19th century, fur trappers and Missouri, Osage and Dakota Indians called this area 10 miles southwest of St. Louis “Dry Ridge.” The territory was converting from Spanish to French control in the early 1800s; and with the Louisiana Purchase in 1802, the land changed to American ownership. But as part of a land grant program under Spanish rule, Frenchman Gregoire Sarpy acquired approximately 6,000 acres of parcel, which contained the area now known as Webster Groves.
Because of Webster’s location right on the Pacific Railroad line, it began to grow as a suburb in the late 19th century as St. Louisans left downtown in search of quieter, cleaner and less crowded neighborhoods. In the 1890s. Webster Park, a well-to-do neighborhood that would soon become Webster Groves, started to promote the area as the ideal suburban community. The city was incorporated in 1896, and increased its boundaries the following year with the annexation of the Old Orchard area.
But its location doesn’t even begin to describe why Webster Groves is among the most popular neighborhoods in St. Louis. Century-old homes, tree-lined streets, charming downtown and business districts, and picturesque public spaces are all part of Webster’s je ne sais quoi.
For instance, Webster’s abundance of sidewalk and patio dining makes it ideal for people-watching. There are too many outdoor spots to mention, but we recommend Robust for wine-sipping at sunset, Olive + Oak for date night, The Block for burgers and house-made pork rinds, Boardwalk Café for breakfast, and Highway 61 Roadhouse for live music and Sunday brunch.
Next month, Webster is host to Community Days, one of St. Louis’ biggest Fourth of July celebrations. For the entire stretch of the holiday weekend, the town shows off its patriotic pride with crowd-pleasing events, including a Miss Webster Groves pageant, a carnival, a parade through town and, of course, fireworks.
WEBSTER GROVES COMMUNITY DAYS (Highway 44 and Elm Avenue)
Saturday, July 1
11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Carnival, midway booths, BBQ, and nightly live entertainment
Sunday, July 2
Monday, July 3
5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Carnival, midway booths, BBQ and nightly live entertainment
9:30 p.m. Fireworks
Tuesday, July 4
10 a.m. Fourth of July parade
11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Carnival, midway booths, BBQ and nightly live entertainment
9:30 p.m. Fireworks
For a complete schedule of events, visit webstergroves.org/community days.
IN AND AROUND WEBSTER GROVES
Big Sky Café
A neighborhood favorite, Big Sky is the perfect spot to dine (and wine) before a night at the opera or at The Rep. Its locally sourced, seasonal menu features salads (try Ellie’s Salad), and small and large plates like Ozark Forest Mushroom Bruschetta, Pan Seared Sea Scallop & Creamed Leek Risotto, and Rosemary & Red Wine Braised Pot Roast. The wine and drink menu (thanks to Phil) is superb, and there’s always something new to try with every visit. bigskycafe.net
Known for quality produce at very reasonable prices, this Old Orchard establishment has been around since 1978. Roger’s is open every day, year-round, and is a customary weekend stop for many a Webster Grover for seasonal fruits and vegetables, flowers, plants and herbs. 625 E. Lockwood Ave.
Rolling Ridge Nursery
Considered a landmark in historic downtown Webster, Rolling Ridge has been catering to the home gardener for half a century. Find a great selection of annuals, perennials and bulbs, trees and shrubs, and gardening tools, as well as fresh garlands, wreaths and Christmas trees during the holidays. rollingridgenursery.com
Photos by Anne Warfield Photography