The Greater Ville is a St. Louis City neighborhood adjoined to its sister St. Louis neighborhood of the Ville. Unique for its almost magnet-like shape, the Greater Ville covers nearly 0.96 total square miles … which makes it larger than the Ville by nearly 0.54 total square miles. It also encompasses a higher population of, at the time of the 2010 census, 6,189 residents. Along with the Ville towards the southern region, the Greater Ville is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Penrose and Fairgrounds towards the north, JeffVanderLou at the east and Kingshighway East towards the west. It is represented by two Aldermen sitting in the fourth and 21st Ward.
Prior to the areas of Ville and Greater Ville having their current name, the region was originally known as Elleardsville. The name served as a tribute to Charles Elleard, a horticulturist who traveled from California to St. Louis during the 1860s and set up an estate and plant nursery. During the early portion of the 1870s, many Irish and German immigrants began to settle within the area, followed shortly by several African American citizens. One of the earliest African American institutions was built in 1873 when an educational facility was constructed to accommodate the rising population of students. A truly racially mixed area, Elleardsville was annexed into the City of St. Louis three years later in 1876 under the name of the Ville. Though historians cannot recall what lead to this specific name change, this move helped with a consistent migration of African American citizens seeking better housing and careers. Eventually, nearly one mile of associated land towards the north, east and western boundaries of the Ville would split and become regionally known as the Greater Ville.
A major historical event that took place within the Greater Ville which rocked the entire nation was the Shelley v. Kraemer case of 1948. In 1945, an African-American man by the name of J.D. Shelley bought a home within the neighborhood, but neighborhood restrictions placed 50-year covenants on particular properties. Shelley’s neighbors of Louis and Ethel Kraemer eventually filed a lawsuit to prevent his family from moving in. This milestone case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court where they ruled these atrocious covenants of declining property ownership because of race violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Shelley’s no longer own the house, but it is still in private hands. In 1988, the Shelly House was placed into the National Register of Historic Places.
Residents of the Greater Ville are served by the St. Louis Public School District.
Along with the Shelly House, the Greater Ville is also home to another residential building located within the National Register of Historic Places with the Chuck Berry House. The house was where the famous rock and roll musician Chuck Berry lived from 1950 to 1958, a period in which he wrote some of the most critically acclaimed songs of his career including “Roll Over Beethoven” and “Johnny B. Goode.” Originally built in 1910, the house was placed within the National Register in 2008.