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Oakland, arguably one of St. Louis County’s best-kept secrets, is a small city of approximately 1550 residents. Its 7.5 miles of tree-lined streets are nestled between Webster Groves to its east, Crestwood to its south, Kirkwood to its west, and Glendale to its north.
Oakland is a community of great architectural diversity. Not only will you find homes designed by such modern-day architects such as Harris Armstrong, Robert Schutt and Paul Marti (all of whom are current or former Oakland residents), but you will also find post World War II "kit" homes, turn of the century stately manors and arts and crafts-styled cottages. A number of homes were built in Oakland just before the Civil War, when wealthy St. Louisians began to build summer homes as retreats from the city heat.
With the opening of the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1853, settlers came to the area, which was originally called "Hartwood" after Henry Clay Hart. Later, Hart’s estate was split into subdivisions including Oakland Terrace and the Oaks. It was from these subdivisions that the Railroad took the name, the "Oakland" stop, at Sappington Road and in turn, the City took its name from that stop, which still exists, but the Oakland depot has long since been demolished.
Oakland and its neighbor, Glendale were once a single village until Oakland declared its independence in 1920. A meeting was held by a group of residents living in the area that decided they wanted to secede from Glendale. An election was held and a vote to secede was upheld by a margin of only 7 votes. The election was contested on the grounds that some of the voters were not eligible to vote. However, another election was held in April, 1920 and the residents of Glendale voted to exclude the section of its city to the south of Lockwood from its boundaries. In July of the same year, another election was held to reinstate the area. Voters to the north of Lockwood voted overwhelmingly for the reinstatement, but those to the south had other ideas. Oakland remained a separate municipality.
Oakland’s first regular election was held in April, 1921 whereby 5 trustees were elected to serve one-year terms. The names of these trustees were as follows: J. L. Cooper, John M. Curlee, T.L. Horn, Dr. L. D. LeGear and Edward S. Williams. The first ordinance was passed on May 25, 1921 which set the tax rate for the Village of Oakland at $.25 per $100 of assessed valuation. In 1946, the Village of Oakland became a fourth class city.
Oakland is primarily a residential community, but within its city limits you will find Westborough Country Club, Ursuline Academy, a private girls’ high school, Bethesda Dilworth, one of the largest long term care facilities in Missouri, Webster Groves Christian Church and Oak Bend Library, a branch of St. Louis County Library.
You will also find 2 City Parks. Adolph Loewnau Park in located on the corner of Sappington Road and Oakland. Backstoppers Park of Oakland, opened in 2006. The construction of this park was done with the financial help of 2 grants. The first, written in partnership with Trailnet, Inc. was provided by The Missouri Department of Natural Resources in the amount of approximately $250,000 which paid for most of the park design, landscape and construction. The second, from the St. Louis County Municipal Parks Grant Commission, was in the amount of $95,000 to help pay for a large portion of the pavilion. Both sections of the park are part of Grant’s Trail. Both City parks provide wonderful green spaces within our community. The Henry Hough Administrative Building is a former Kirkwood R-7 Elementary School which was renovated into a technology center and early childhood center for the school district and its residents.
The Board of Aldermen is always looking at ways to make our small city more pedestrian friendly and keep the community aesthetically pleasing. In 1998, a major capital improvement project was undertaken to either install new curbs/sidewalks or repair/resurface all City streets. This project was completed in 2005 and now we are able to continue annual maintenance on all streets. In order to create more parking for the residents on Argonne at Holmes, another project was created to install replica vintage street lights, professional landscape and designated diagonal parking for residents. In 2005, new street signs were designed using our City logo. Oakland is one of the few St. Louis County municipalities that pay 100% of their residents refuse service to include, yard waste, trash and recycling pickup.