Early settlers were largely German immigrants who came to the Midwest by way of Virginia and the Carolinas. The population was essentially farmers who settled on 80 – 160 acre tracts of land sold off by the U.S. Government. The German immigrants brought with them a love of flowers that influenced the beginning of the floral industry in Des Peres. That strong influence remains today with the presence of the Tomasovic and Eckelmann greenhouses. Recent years have seen the loss of the Deutschmann Greenhouses to commercial development (Olympic Oaks Shopping Center), and the Meier Greenhouses to residential development (Countryside Subdivision).
An outgrowth of the Civil War caused a substantial increase in the number of homeless children in the Midwest. This need fostered the start of a special ministry for the Lutheran Church and resulted in establishment of the German Lutheran Orphans Home shortly after the Civil War at the corner of Manchester and Ballas Roads. Tragically, a fire destroyed that home in 1935 and, despite the depression, was rebuilt with donations at a cost of $155,000. That building stands today as the Des Peres City Hall purchased by Des Peres in 1973 after closure of the Orphanage in 1966. Through the years, the home served 2,366 children, many of whom chose to settle in Des Peres. A relief by Sigfried Reinhardt, commissioned by the Lutheran Children and Family Services, hangs today in Des Peres City Hall to commemorate that history.
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