History & Facts
The history of Olivette begins with the indigenous population of Osage (Wazhazhe) people that lived on the land dating as far back as the 1600s. In the 1820s, Olivette was known as Centerton, the central point on the overland route between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers settled by both the Germans and French. As a quiet country village, farming area, booming residential suburb, and a growing industrial and business center, Olivette has met each challenge with energy and initiative.
The City of Olivette was officially incorporated as a Home Rule Charter City in 1930.
25 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Olivette
1. We're The Tops!
Olivette's elevation of 700 feet above sea level makes it one of the highest communities in St. Louis County. Since water runs downhill, the City of St. Louis decided this would be the perfect location to build the Stacy Park Water Reservoir in 1926.
2. Load Up the Wagons
The corner of Old Bonhomme and Price Roads had great significance to travelers in the 1800s. It was the exact halfway point for wagon trains heading west between the Port of St. Louis on the Mississippi River and Howell's Landing on the Missouri River.
3. For the Record
The album cover for the rock group Head East's 1975 smash record "Flat as a Pancake" was shot in our own Olivette Diner.
4. Links to the Past
Olivette's Indian Meadows subdivision was once the site of an 18-hole golf course.
5. Four to One
In 1930, the city of Olivette was formed by combining four different communities: Central, Olive, Stratmann and Tower Hill.
6. Hail, Caesar
The property that eventually became Stoneyside Lane was once owned by a man named Julius Caesar.
7. A Force of One
The City of Olivette's original police department consisted of one town marshal.
8. Water Log
The Stacy Park Reservoir can hold up to 100 million gallons of water!
9. The Subdivision That Almost Wasn't
The original Oak Estates Subdivision, with streets named Brighton Avenue and Chelsea Avenue., was planned before World War II. But plans were scrapped when city officials deemed the lot sizes too small. Subdivision plans were finally revised and approved in the 1950s.
10. Park It Here
Olivette has more city parks per person than most of our St. Louis area neighboring communities. Five parks = a park for every 1500 citizens!
11. The Old School
Olivette has had a school at the corner of Price and Old Bonhomme Roads for more than 150 years. When it was built, the original two-room building was the only brick schoolhouse in the county.
12. Our Gang
During the 1920s and 30s, a notorious group of underworld gangsters, known as Egan's Rats, made a large Olivette home known as the Maxwellton Club their headquarters. Neighbors complained about the noise and flying bullets whenever the gang held target practice. Ironically, the building was directly across Olive Street Road from what is now the Olivette Police Department.
13. Definitely a Baseball Town
Hall of Famer Lou Brock, former Cardinal broadcaster Jay Randolph and Phil Ozersky (the man who nabbed Mark McGwire's record-setting 70th home run) are all former Olivette residents.
14. Okay, a Football Town, Too
Cardinal Football greats Johnny Roland, Jim Hart, and Jim Bakken also once lived here.
15. A Salute to the Scouts
The flagpole at Stacy Park was made possible by a 1967 fund drive conducted by the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts of Olivette
16. What's an Olivette?
The dictionary defines "Olivette" as "a large theatrical floodlight having a single bulb," but our town probably was named Olivette because the main road into St. Louis connected with Olive Street.
17. The Grocery List
Even though today we lack Schnuck's or Dierberg's, Olivette has had many grocery stores through the years: Schmidt's, Robyn's, Maile's, Niese's, The Olive Branch, Faeger's, and Mercurio's. The last two grocery stores in Olivette were National (where Party City is now located) and Flotken's (where the Shane Co. building now stands.)
18. Memories On Ice
In the early 1900s, many Olivette kids loved ice skating on Bock's Pond- on the property now occupied by Stacy Park. Also, before Saint's on Warson Road was a roller skating rink, it was an ice skating rink.
19. From Graveyard to Playground
Centerton Park on Old Bonhomme Road is the former site of St. Martin's cemetery, dating back to the 1840s.
20. This Old House
There are at least a dozen homes in Olivette which are a century old or older. The Fishbone house on Old Bonhomme predates county records, begun in 1875.
21. Olivette Lays Down the Law
Many modern home development laws were pioneered in Olivette, including ordinances setting standards for residential land grading and the installation of home swimming pools.
22. How Do You Like Them Apples?
The largest apple orchard in St. Louis County once grew on the Steinmeyer property on Old Bonhomme Road. The orchard was eventually leveled to make way for the Arbor Road subdivision
23. Camp OB
In the 1920s, migrant workers building the Stacy Park Reservoir lived with their families in tents on the land where Old Bonhomme School now stands.
24. Across the Border
If you stood in the middle of Price Road where Delmar ends, you'd be in three cities at one time! (Olivette, University City, and Ladue.) However, we don't recommend you do this.
25. Don't Step in the Mud
Olive Street Road was created in 1851 when the Central Plank Road Company laid wooden boards west of Olive Street to avoid muddy roads during the spring rains.