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Musician’s historic Gravois Park home is remade for modern living

As a lifelong resident of south St. Louis, musician Neil Salsich was destined to purchase his first home there. He grew up in a historic home in the Shaw neighborhood, attending St. Margaret’s of Scotland School and later St. Louis University High School. After college, he lived with friends in a Benton Park apartment while growing and touring with his roots-rock band, the Mighty Pines.

In 2019, with the help of his parents, he started to look around for a home to buy. “I was transitioning out of that time in life, living in an apartment with a bunch of friends and was ready for his my own house,” he says.

At Home with Neil Salsich

The cozy, light-filled living room is Salsich’s favorite place to hang out, read, listen to his vast record collection and work on his music. The carved wood coffee table belonged to his grandfather, who purchased it in Haiti while in the Air Force.

A bandmate of Salsich’s had purchased a home from St. Louis developer/builder Rubicon Corporation through a program of the City of St. Louis Community Development Administration that provides funding to facilitate the new construction or rehabilitation of residential development projects within the city in an effort to expand the supply of quality affordable housing and help stabilize city neighborhoods through the remediation of blighted areas.

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Rubicon was in the process of renovating a historic property that was available for purchase through the program in the Gravois Park neighborhood. Built in 1896, the home had sat vacant for 20 years, deteriorating. When Salsich first saw it, it was down to the studs, forcing him to imagine its potential. His parents encouraged him, recognizing the opportunity to purchase a newly remodeled home at an extremely affordable price.

“I was long committed to buying it before it was finished,” says Salsich.

Being in on the early stages of the renovation allowed him some input on choices being made. The finished result is the perfect combination of old-house charm and detail with new-build quality, including new electric and plumbing systems.

At Home with Neil Salsich

 The home’s developer, Rubicon Corporation, carefully re-created the home’s original staircase with great attention to detail including the acorn finials and carved spindles. The inlay tall cabinet from Bali was handed down from a former roommate, and the small lamp that sits on top belonged to Salsich’s great grandmother.

“I love the natural light and the historic features and tall ceilings,” he says. “That’s the kind of house I grew up in, and that’s what’s home to me.”

It’s proved to be the perfect space for him with its cozy open living room/dining room, where he spends most of his time listening to or working on music and teaching himself to play the piano he inherited from his childhood home. In the warmer months, he enjoys spending time on the small deck off the kitchen and in the fenced-in yard of the corner lot — his little outdoor oasis in the heart of the city.

Salsich has a spacious bedroom suite on the second floor, as well as a home office and additional bathroom. With more than enough room for himself on the first two floors, he rents out the third floor — consisting of a bedroom, bathroom and small living space — to a housemate. While they didn’t know each other well previously, they’ve become good friends and their differing schedules allow them to share the kitchen and entry without getting in each other’s way.

Most everything Salsich has filled his home with has personal meaning or was handed down from family or friends, giving it a collected feel. Around the time he moved in, his mom moved out of a huge house and downsized, as did her boyfriend, so he inherited a lot of furniture and accessories — some of which he grew up with. A self-described “vinyl junkie,” Salsich says his record player and vast record collection are among his favorite things.

Artwork throughout the house pays homage to his love of the city, including a limited edition print celebrating nearby Cherokee Street and an image of the front door of legendary St. Louis restaurant and music venue Broadway Oyster Bar. One of his most prized possessions is a framed 1879 map of the city of St. Louis that his parents randomly found in an antique shop in Mystic, Connecticut, in the 1980s.

In the foyer, a crystal doorknob from his childhood home in Shaw mounted on a piece of wood hangs on the wall next to the front door as a reminder of his local roots. His mom and sister still both live in nearby neighborhoods.

Celebrating three years as a homeowner this month, Salsich has no regrets. “I love living here,” he says. “I’m a homebody — I can sit here every day and listen to records and read books.”

At Home with Neil Salsich

Neil Salsich poses for a portrait inside his home in St. Louis on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. Photo by Jordan Opp, [email protected]

At Home with Neil Salsich

Most of the furnishings in Salsich’s home were passed down from family or came from his childhood home, such as the rug in the dining room and the 1960s piano his mother grew up playing that he is now teaching himself to play.

At Home with Neil Salsich

The primary bedroom is spacious with tons of natural light and has a well-appointed en suite bathroom.

At Home with Neil Salsich

 Salsich was gifted this wood cabinet with built-in mirror by his mom’s boyfriend who moved from Indiana. A crystal doorknob from his childhood home in Shaw mounted on a piece of wood hangs on the wall next to the front door.

At Home with Neil Salsich

One of Salsich’s most prized possessions is this framed 1879 map of the city of St. Louis that his parents randomly found in an antique shop in Mystic, Connecticut, in the 1980s. 

At Home with Neil Salsich

Having purchased the home in the early stages of its renovation, Salsich got to provide input on some of the finishes such as the cabinet and floor stain colors and kitchen and bathroom fixtures. He added the white subway tile backsplash with his dad’s help.

At Home with Neil Salsich

Salsich rents out the third floor, consisting of a bedroom, small living space and a bathroom, to a housemate.

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