Inspired by residential squares in England, with common space managed by property owners, residential enclaves emerged in the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century. These neighborhoods developed both outside of cities, where they were known as garden suburbs or residence parks, and within cities. Ordered, tranquil urban retreats built for wealthy residents with development controlled by residential covenants and deed restrictions arose in St. Louis in the 1850s and became known as private places. These places were typically characterized by a broad central boulevard, often edged by trees, divided by a verdant mall or median, lined with stately homes designed by prominent architects (e.g., Cope & Stewardson, H. H. Richardson), and set back from the street at a prescribed distance. Privacy and protection were often reinforced by single points of entry, limiting through traffic, and typically demarcated by ornate gates and gatehouse ensembles.
The first private place in St. Louis, Benton Place (1868) was designed by Julius Pitzman and established the pattern that other private places would imitate. It included 49 lots, each 25 feet wide, that faced either Lafayette Park across Park Avenue or an elliptical central mall. Pitzman subsequently planned myriad private places, including the Forest Park Addition (1888), which featured two boulevards, and Westmoreland Place and Portland Place. He additionally designed Lewis Place in 1890, which in the 1940s became the first private street in St. Louis owned by Black residents. By the turn of the century the private place concept proliferated and spread throughout the nation.
Multiple private places located in St. Louis are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, including Westmoreland and Portland Places (1974), Lewis Place (1980), and Parkview (1986).