Edward John Lawler, 1890–1955
Edward John Lawler was born in St. Louis on 5 September 1890 to James Clement Lawler and Mary Ann Costello. As a child, he lived on Papin Street, near the railroad yards where his father worked as a switchman. In 1904, he sold newspapers at the St. Louis World’s Fair. In 1906, he was an architectural draftsman, and by 1913, he was an architect. According to the 1940 census, he had a seventh-grade education.
He knew Alice Teresa Barton from the neighborhood. A daughter of Oswald Barton and Sarah Jane McNamee, Alice lived at 3504 Papin Street. They liked to make music together at wedding receptions and in bars; she played ragtime piano, he the violin. They were married on 21 June 1911 at Immaculate Conception Church and bought a house at 3672 Hickory Street. Edward Junior was born there in 1912, followed by Mary Alice in 1914 and Sarah Ellen in 1916. Edward Senior was not drafted during World War I. In 1917, he was a self-employed architect sharing a suite downtown in the Wright Building at 8th and Olive Streets. In subsequent years, four more children were born.
In 1930, Ed Lawler was an architect for an electric company, but as the Depression worsened, he was out of work often. He did odd jobs when he could. About 1935, he went to work for the Works Progress Administration, supervising crews delivering water to construction sites. About 1936, he started his own architectural practice, part time, at 6635 Delmar Boulevard in University City. His income in 1939 was $1,800. Sometime after 1940, he moved his office to 3736 West Pine.
After helping to design a house in Ladue, Missouri, for Lawrence O. Stocker, president of Stocker Construction Company, Edward was hired by that firm as an engineer, which brought him some prosperity. The Stocker home was a showcase of excellence—today it is appraised at more than a million dollars. But most of his projects were simpler homes, and he did some work on churches and shopping centers.
In 1946, Edward J. Lawler designed the St. Louis headquarters of the B-1 Beverage Company at 4000 Lindell Boulevard. In 1950, he was appointed building commissioner of Richmond Heights, having moved to that suburb in 1945. In his free time, Edward enjoyed model railroading, home movies, and Groucho Marx’s radio program. He died on 16 May 1955 at his home, 7637 Dale Avenue, Richmond Heights, having been an architect for more than forty years. Edward and wife Alice are buried at Mount Olive Cemetery.
(Sources include census records, church records, city directories, civil registration of births and deaths, draft registration, family and personal memories, fire insurance maps, real estate records, and a book called The McElmeels of Clogher.)
Written by John Sullivan
Alice Barton and Edward Lawler
Photo in the collection of John Sullivan
Used with permission
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Text Last Modified: 07-Mar-2020 10:57