BJC Seeking Demolition of Jewish Hospital Nursing School Building

by Michael R. Allen

UPDATE: The Preservation Board unanimously voted to deny the demolition on a preliminary basis.  Board Member David Richardson made the motion to deny, and Melanie Fathman provided the second.  Anthony Robinson voted “aye” and Chairman Richard Callow abstained from voting.  Mary Johnson arrived after the vote.

At the meeting of the Preservation Board today (Monday, July 26), the board will consider preliminary approval of demolition of the College of Nursing Building at the Washington University Medical Center. BJC Healthcare is requesting preliminary approval so that it can demolish the building for open space until it is ready to build a new building on the site.

Built in 1926, the College of Nursing Building is a sturdy, attractive flat-roofed building with a limestone base and red brick body. The building is fine, but not very significant, as a work of architecture. What makes the building significant is its original use as the Training School for Nurses for Jewish Hospital. The building is sound and human-scaled on a campus suffering from undistinguished giantism in recent construction. Besides, BJC has no immediate plan for redevelopment. By ordinance, presence of a redevelopment plan is a key consideration in Preservation Board determination of whether preliminary approval of any demolition is appropriate.

The city’s Cultural Resources Office rightly is recommending that the Preservation Board withhold preliminary approval at this time. The Preservation Board meeting is at 4:00 p.m. at 1015 Locust Street, 12th Floor. Written testimony may be submitted to the board via Secretary Adona Buford, BufordA@stlouiscity.com.

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  • http://www.stl-style.com Jeff

    I doubt I will be able to make it to the meeting this afternoon, but here’s my written testimony:

    Dear Preservation Board,

    I am a 10-year resident of the Central West End, and I am writing to urge you to deny preliminary approval to demolish the College of Nursing Building without a redevelopment plan. Over the years, countless buildings large and small have been torn down in our city with vague promises of “quality new construction.” With a few exceptions, our city has become pock-marked with parking lots, “greenspace” and vacant land, the closest of which is merely blocks away at the site of the old Doctors Building on Euclid and West Pine. Where a distinguished high-rise once stood, residents and visitors now pass a water-filled, litter-filled vacant lot in what is literally the center of our neighborhood.

    Without a sound, smart redevelopment plan, the College of Nursing Building should be preserved. It is an integral piece of what comprises one of St. Louis’ most dramatic urban street walls. A vacant lot in this location would greatly diminish the visual and pedestrian experience of N. Kingshighway. Please don’t allow critics to add yet another footnote to St. Louis’ textbook history of misguided urban planning and disastrous redevelopment policies.

  • Chris

    They didn’t seem to worry about the street wall of Forest Park Avenue when they approved the demolition of the Schoenberg Nurses Hall last year.