This town is easy to miss — tucked into little more than one-half square mile among Webster Groves, Kirkwood, Glendale and Crestwood. But despite its size, it looms large in innovative home design.
While traditional colonial and Victorian two-stories, neat bungalows and tight cottages dominate the housing stock of southwestern St. Louis County, tiny Oakland offers a healthy dollop of unique architecture.
One of the best-known examples of Oakland’s standout style is a white art deco brick home at 145 South Sappington Road, with an oddly tilted side room that has been slowing traffic since it was added to the home in the early 2000s (seen above).
Most of the town’s design legacy can be credited to Harris Armstrong (seen to the left), an architect who lived in Oakland for about 35 years until he died in 1973.
Ted Wight, a real estate agent who has sold two Armstrong houses, said he enjoys the homes in Oakland. “It’s just this wonderful enclave of interesting homes, a little bohemian in nature,” Wight said. “So much of St. Louis (housing) is colonial or traditional, so these unique styles really jump out at you.”
No need to tell that to Kylie Roth, who has lived in Armstrong’s second home for four years with her husband, Jason Koebel, and now their infant son, Oslo. “We love midcentury modern architecture, especially the way light is brought into the home and ties the inside in with the outdoors,” Roth said.
Roth said the floor-to-ceiling windows flood the rooms with light. “I’ve never been much of a winter person, but the sun coming into the main room always makes me feel better,” she said.
There have been some challenges, because they take seriously their role as “stewards for the property. We’re proud to live here.” They have had to shell out significant cash to get cork closet doors made for a hallway to match originals that still hang in the master bedroom; remove, sand and shellac numerous pieces of wood to restore them to original appearance; and pull up carpeting, only to reveal original floors that need work.