Cass Bank, Castle Ballroom Nominated to National Register

by Michael R. Allen

On Monday, the St. Louis Preservation Board approved two National Register of Historic Places nominations of historic buildings.

The first nomination is for the Cass Bank and Trust Company Building at 1450 N. 13th Street in the Columbus Square area. The building dates to 1927 and was designed by the prolific Bank Building and Equipment Company. In the last few years, after the departure of long-time tenant Greyhound Lines, the building has been vacant.  The neo-classical, Bedford limestone-clad building replaced the earlier Cass Avenue Bank building at 1501 Cass Avenue built in 1915 and designed by Wedmeyer & Stiegemeyer. One year after completion of the Cass Bank and Trust Company Building, the Chippewa Trust Company completed a similarly-styled two-story building at the southwest corner of Chippewa and Broadway streets also by the Bank Building and Equipment Company.

Melinda Winchester of Lafser & Associates wrote the nomination for Northside Regeneration LLC, but the building is owned by the city’s Land Reutilization Authority (LRA). The nomination states that Northside Regeneration has the building under contract.

The second nomination is for the former Castle Ballroom at 2831-45 Olive Street in midtown. Prepared by PRO’s Lynn Josse, the nomination recognizes the social history of a building best known in recent years for its slather of goldenrod paint. The building was built in 1908 as Cave Hall, a dance hall that replaced popular Uhrig’s Cave when it was closed to build the Coliseum. Later it became the Castle Ballroom, which served African-Americans from the surrounding Mill Creek and Yeatman neighborhoods. When Mill Creek Valley was cleared up to the south side of Olive Street in the 1950s, the Castle Ballroom survived as one of the few remaining traces of the once-vibrant neighborhood.

As part of a Certified Local Government — a local government with a preservation ordinance certified by the State Historic Preservation Office — the board reviews National Register nominations and sends recommendations to the state Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (MOACHP). MOACHP will consider these nominations at a meeting on November 19, and forward approved nominations to the National Park Service for listing. The most extensive National Register nomination review takes place at the state level.

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