by Michael R. Allen
Located on Carr Street between 14th and 15th streets, the Carr School has stood as a forlorn reminder that the downtown renovation boom has left many buildings behind. The Carr School, an elementary school designed in 1908 by the celebrated school district architect William B. Ittner, was abandoned by the St. Louis Public Schools in 1983. Sitting on a block of mostly vacant lots surrounded by the Carr Square Village low-rise public housing project, the school seems precariously posed between death and life; the mostly-occupied apartments are in reasonable shape and of a mediocre (as opposed to awful) design, but the missing buildings on the block and others along 14th Street point to a different future altogether. The Carr Square Tenants’ Association owns the building and has struggled for two decades to renovate the building for elderly housing with no success. Consequently, the building has slid toward dereliction — even a short glance at the roof is saddening — and has been listed on the Landmarks’ Association’s Most Endangered Buildings List for many years running. The interior is in particularly bad shape, with plaster falling from most walls and many floors less than intact. Nevertheless, the brick walls and their ornamental tile work are in very good shape and retain their beauty.
Recall a time when such craftsmanship was common in elementary school design, and then attempt to imagine one of today’s new school buildings surviving 21 years of abandonment this gracefully. The difference in quality is staggering.
See more photos at Built St. Louis.