During the 1920s, The Ville was home to an elite community that included black professionals, businessmen, entertainers and Annie Malone, one of the country’s first African-American millionaires. One of St. Louis’ most historically significant neighborhoods, The Ville was home to Sumner High School, the first school west of the Mississippi River to provide secondary education for blacks. Some of the school’s best known alumni are Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Chuck Berry, opera diva Grace Bumbry, and tennis great Arthur Ashe. During the 1920s and ‘30s, the neighborhood thrived, as more and more African-American institutions were established, including Harriet Beecher Stowe College and Homer G. Phillips Hospital.
The Ville served as the cradle of African-American culture and nurtured its rich heritage for the black population of St. Louis. Today, the soaring Ville Monument pays tribute to the neighborhood’s achievements and its famous sons and daughters.