Abandonment Demolition Historic Preservation LRA

Just Couldn’t Make It

by Michael R. Allen

Until last month, this modest storefront building stood at the southeast corner of Delmar and Leffingwell avenues. According to city building permits, the building dates to 1881 and was originally four stories tall. Looking carefully at the building, I detected evidence of infill of the third floor sills and window openings just below the parapet wall, which lacks a creasing course. The shortened height and partly-filled windows are obvious, marring the building’s appearance. Still, handsome details like the iron storefront and arched side windows remained evident.

Once part of a robust, dense urban neighborhood just north of Mill Creek Valley, the building and an alley house behind it fell into the hands of the city’s Land Reutilization Authority. All of its neighbors were gone. Across Leffingwell stands a large housing project, while adjacent to the east is a lot owned by N & G Ventures LC, a holding company controlled by Paul McKee. South of here is the hulking campus of Wachovia Securities, formerly A.G. Edwards & Sons. Any semblance of the historic walking neighborhood in which this building played a commercial role was long gone. The city itself lost the mometum needed to keep even diminished buildings in use.

Befitting, the building’s east wall partly collapsed in December. On February 6, the Building Division approved a demolition permit and wrecking commenced. The neighborhood could have used a corner anchor, even as one small representation of its old form. Yet the building just couldn’t make it. Besides, would the time have ever come again for this lopped-off old building?