your guide through the history of the Gateway City
Excerpts from "Urban Historian Adds Life to Old City Neighborhoods" by Susan Weich
NiNi Harris got her first St. Louis history lessons around the kitchen table as her grandmother made chocolate cakes from scratch. "On Sunday mornings she went to 6 a.m. Mass, and then she'd come back and start baking," Harris said. "I associated history with chocolate because we'd lick the spatulas as she told stores about what life was like growing up in Soulard."
Harris, 59, has made it her mission and her living to preserve those stories. She's written nine books that detail neighborhood and ethnic histories in the St. Louis area. Her most recent effort is about Holly Hills and the adjacent Bellerive area in south St. Louis.
In addition to writing the history of an area, Harris conducts walking tours that are offered through several universities or senior organizations. Walking through a neighborhood is key to getting to know a place she said. "When you walk, people see you, they wave, they talk to you," she said. "Walking creates a kind of friendliness. If you're just getting in and out of a car you don't get that."
Award for Architectural Writing:
NiNi Harris' book, "Holly Hills," has been selected to receive the Osmund Overby Award from Missouri Preservation for 2012. The Overby Award was established in 2003 to recognize written works, which contribute to the documentation and interpretation of Missouri's architectural history. It is named in honor of Dr. Osmud Overby, a nationally recognized leader in historic preservation, and founding member of Missouri Preservation.