Soulard is a St. Louis neighborhood located in the central eastern portion of St. Louis City near Lafayette Square and Benton Park. Considered to be one of the oldest communities within all of St. Louis, Soulard is made up of large residential areas with many restaurants, bars and the main North American headquarters of the Anheuser-Busch company. It is represented by two aldermen sitting in the seventh and ninth Wards. As of the 2010 census, Soulard’s population was 3,440 residents and the neighborhood covers no more than 0.60 total square miles of land.
The area comprised of current day Soulard was once part of the estate of a loyalist to King Louis XVI known as Antoine Soulard. He came to the city of St. Louis from New Orleans after having to flee his home country of France thanks in part to his ties to King Louis XVI. By the time he arrived in St. Louis, he married Julia Cerre, whose family was extremely wealthy, and was granted a tremendous amount of property thanks to his daily services as a surveyor.
The area of Soulard began initial history sometime in the early 1800s when a major issue developed when Antoine and Julia Soulard tried to sell their estate in 1820. Apparently majors areas of the property were granted to them under old Spanish land grants and an oversight denied full title of the property. Unfortunately, Antoine died within a few years and Julia would settle an 1836 case in court by paying $2,000 to fortify a clear property title. With the property now in her possession, she began subdividing it and selling lots to travelers and those looking for settlement. According to history, Julia Soulard may be one of the first female real estate developers west of the Mississippi area and perhaps within all of the United States. In 1840, Julia gave the City of St. Louis two blocks of her property upon the stipulation that it forever be solely used a public market … which we know today as the Soulard Famers Market – but more on that later!
The area began to thrive throughout the late 19th century into the early 20th century as the region was a convenient business spot thanks to its location central location in the city and close proximity near the Mississippi River allowing for many riverfront facility shipping. In 1852, Adolphus Busch opened the Anheuser -Busch Brewery within the Soulard area further cementing the neighborhood’s abundance of being a popular commercial destination. In 1972, Soulard was awarded the distinction of being a state and National Historic District. Three years later, it was declared a Historic City District.
Residents of Soulard are served by the St. Louis Public School District.
The Soulard Famers Market was first built in 1843 before being destroyed by a devastating tornado in 1896, later being rebuilt to its current state several years later in 1928. It is the oldest farmers market west of the Mississippi and more than 100 vendors still pack the area to check out local produce, meats, spices and more.
One of the major landmarks for the neighborhood includes the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Named a National Historical Landmark District in 1966, free tours of the brewery are given daily to explore the complex and guests (of legal age of course) can enjoy two free glasses of any two free glasses of any Anheuser-Busch product.
A favorite attraction at the brewery are the famous Budweiser Clydesdales and their exercise fields and carriage houses. The horses are rotated at both the Soulard headquarters and at the company farm of Grant’s Farm in St. Louis County. These historic horses were originally given the task of pulling wagons carrying company beer during the 19th century.
Located in the central portion of the Soulard area, Pontiac Square Park is the neighborhood’s park area that covers nearly 1.50 acres of land.
Soulard’s many establishments offer live blues and jazz music and the neighborhood is the host of mainly timely pub crawls and other celebrations such as the St. Louis Mardi Gras Festival and Oktoberfest.