Paved over Histories

  Doris Fiddmont Frazier, center, and other p arishioners worship at Union Baptist Church, a fixture in Westland Acres. The community, founded by a former enslaved man, has existed for more than 200 years and now finds itself sandwiched between two of the region's wealthiest suburbs while being left out of the benefits of the wealthier, whiter areas. PHOTO BY CAROLINA HIDALGO | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Doris Fiddmont Frazier, center, and other parishioners worship at Union Baptist Church, a fixture in Westland Acres. The community, founded by a former enslaved man, has existed for more than 200 years and now finds itself sandwiched between two of the region's wealthiest suburbs while being left out of the benefits of the wealthier, whiter areas. PHOTO BY CAROLINA HIDALGO | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Today’s show is all about the g-word: Gentrification.

Which we often think of as happening in urban centers. But for generations there’s been a slow turnover as cities expanded into the suburbs and rural areas.

That’s the backstory of Brentwood Promenade, a relatively affluent mall about 15 minutes outside of city of St. Louis.

 For 90 years it was home to middle-class African American families centered around the Evens-Howard Fire Brick Company. Developers bought and demolished the neighborhood in 1997.

All that’s left now is a plaque near a liquor store in the back of the plaza.

The story of Evans-Howard Place has been acted out countless times in St. Louis and across the rest of the country.

If you’re from around our region you might know about Mill Creek Valley, or Laclede Town, or Meacham Park.

But on today’s episode, we tell you about a historic African American community in west St. Louis County that’s fighting to avoid the same fate. To hang on to its land, history and future.

This is the story of Westland Acres.