by Michael R. Allen
If photographs of its old neon sign measured anything, the “Sarah-Lou” building at the northeast corner of St. Louis and Sarah avenues in the Greater Ville is a winner. Although the building has been abandoned for years, its sign for the famous, shuttered Sarah-Lou Cafe attracts a great deal of attention. Alas, the attention the building needs to attract is that of an owner willing to rehabilitate the fine corner mixed-use building.
The building, which dates to 1906, was condemned for demolition in the year of its centennial. This year, the city erected a fence around the building to protect the sidewalks from falling clay tiles. The tiles’ fall was triggered by damage caused through theft of the metal guttering. Yet the privately-owned building is far from a wreck.
A look at the rear wall shows no structural problems with the masonry walls. Someone wisely demolished a sagging frame porch that had been enclosed and which provided access to the second floor. Beyond the holes in the roofs of the false gables, the roof seems sound. Hopefully someone will come along and rescue this building, which is one of four two-story corner mixed-use buildings at the intersection. This is the only one that is vacant, and it also happens to be the most architecturally stunning of the group.