Kristen Weaver and Doug Weaver’s home sits in Old North St. Louis on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023. Photo by Christine Tannous, [email protected]
Planning to return to St. Louis while serving in the Peace Corps 8,000 miles away in Rwanda, Doug and Kirsten Weaver discovered their home on Zillow. Unable to visit the residence, they bought it a year before they returned.
“We only had internet access on Sundays and were living in a brick house the size our kitchen is now. We kept counting the bricks along the floor in the pictures we saw of this house and comparing them to the bricks in our home in Rwanda to try to get a sense of size” Kirsten remembers. “Our friends and our parents did a walk-through and gave us their thoughts.”
After the purchase was complete, it would still be a year before they returned and they spent the time excitedly imagining what changes they would make. When they finally opened the door to their new home, the kitchen counter was barely visible under a supply of household items friends had left them.
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The long, narrow kitchen has been totally updated and is enclosed by exposed brick walls on all four sides.
“I do not remember where we slept that first night, but the next day we went to Ikea and furnished the house,” Doug says.
It has been seven years since the couple moved into the 3,700 square foot home, and over that time Doug has done an extraordinary amount of work reconfiguring the rooms to fit their lifestyle. Walls have been removed on the third floor, which is now one large primary suite with a cathedral ceiling and a covered balcony with a panoramic view of downtown St. Louis and the Arch in Gateway Arch National Park.
A cozy covered patio on the third floor overlooks the St. Louis skyline. Repairing the walls is on Doug’s “to do” list.
Doug added walls on the second floor to create four bedrooms from what was one large open space. One of the bedrooms is used by Kirsten as a home office. Another leads out to a covered balcony running parallel along the length of the side of the home, and it too features views of the city as well as views of the couple’s walled garden at the rear of the residence. One tree in the garden is from seeds the couple brought back from Rwanda.
“Both balconies are great for watching the Fourth of July fireworks on the riverfront, and everywhere else on the horizon,” Kirsten says.
Bathrooms were also added and updated. “We have three bathrooms versus having no indoor plumbing or even a kitchen in Rwanda,” Kirsten says.
Baskets from Rwanda sit on the shelf in the guest room of Kristen Weaver and Doug Weaver’s home.
Doug is an artist, and he has converted the basement into his studio, and has added an exercise room.
The kitchen had been updated before they moved in, but plans are to add a large pantry Doug will build.
Almost every wall features vintage reddish-orange brick, which is both beautiful and a problem. Once when Doug was going to tuckpoint a small spot, the wall crumbled where he was working. “Leaks had basically turned the mortar into sand,” he says. “I ended up replacing a large part of the wall, and learning more about tuckpointing than I had expected.”
The living room features the original wood floor and exposed red brick walls.
They have grown to love the Old North neighborhood. Kristen loves to walk and talk to the neighbors, including the residents of the Jackson Park Apartments. “Many of the same people sit out in front every day and I enjoy stopping and talking to them,” Kirsten says. “This is a very tight-knit community.”
Doug has found the residence on maps of St. Louis as early as 1871. A later map he discovered showed homes where someone had contracted scarlet fever during an epidemic in St. Louis. It shows a red dot on top of the location, indicating someone in the home had the disease.
“A family with a child that was living here in 1890 appears on a census that year, and while the same family appears on a later census the child is not listed,” Doug says. “We think there might be a child ghost our son says he has seen. Sometimes his toys have been moved overnight.”
Doug Weaver, left, poses with his wife Kristen Weaver, right, and son Finley Weaver, 7, center, at their home on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, in Old North St. Louis. Photo by Christine Tannous, [email protected]
Ages • He is 34; she is 35.
Occupations • She is a contract negotiator for Intermountain Health Care, which has clinics and hospitals in Utah, Idaho and Nevada. Previously she was a teacher. Doug teaches art at Forest Park Community College and sells his own artwork on his dougweaverart.org website. His TikTok account, DougWeaverart, has 462,000 followers.
Home • Old North St. Louis
Family • A son Finley, who is 7. A pit bull mix named October was found wandering the neighborhood last fall and is thought to be 1½ years old.
Old North House Tour
What • The annual neighborhood Old North House Tour will include the Weaver residence in addition to other homes in the area. The event will also feature an arts festival in nearby Crown Square with local artists, vendors, food trucks and live entertainment.
When • 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 16
Tickets • Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the event. All proceeds benefit the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group and local artists as they work to continue revitalization of the community. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit onsl.org/tour.
Doug gutted and installed this half bath and the large glass block window.
A painting by Doug sits on the top of a dresser in the primary bedroom on the third floor. A lot of his work features scenes of St. Louis. He makes his paints from plants he grows in a nearby garden, and sells his artwork on his dougweaverart.org website.
Doug completely gutted and finished the primary bedroom on the third floor.
A piano occupies one end of the living room accompanied by a violin and banjo hanging on the wall. The vintage fund raising poster for what is thought to have been the St. Louis Symphony reads “Let there be music,” while a sheet on the piano reads “Please do not shoot the piano player, he is doing the best he can.”
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