Abandonment Lafayette Square LRA South St. Louis

Eads House

by Michael R. Allen

The so-called Eads House at 1922 Chouteau Avenue in Lafayette Square was owned as investment property by James B. Eads, designer and builder of the famous Eads Bridge in St. Louis. Built in 1872, the mansard-roofed Second Empire originally was divided into two townhouse-style units but was later further divided into four units. The building has stood empty for at least 25 years, and has begun to fully collapse. The Chouteau facade seems intact but a walk around to the alley elevation reveals that the building is in need of desperate help. Homeless people still sleep under the building’s sturdy front steps, though.

East St. Louis, Illinois Metro East Salvage Theft

Murphy Building Vandalized

by Michael R. Allen

Vandals have been pillaging the Murphy Building in the last few weeks. On Sunday, March 6, we arrived to find that three of the ornamental terra cotta keystones above the fifth-floor windows on the main facade had been removed. The vandals had removed the boards covering the front door of the Murphy Building — until then mostly inaccessible — and left the boards lying on the sidewalk outside. They had crudely removed the keystones, leaving jagged openings.

The building is owned by the City of East St. Louis, which did not authorize the removal. This is an illegal act.

If you come across the keystones or other parts of the Murphy Building, please contact your local police department.

Facade shot showing the missing keystones.

One of the locations of a keystone. The crude cut of the vandals is evident.

The vandals removed the plywood on the front door.

Historic Preservation People Urbanism

ReVitalize St. Louis

New Grassroots Organization
Committed to St. Louis’ Revitalization
Announces Formation

As you may or may not know, The Rehabbers Club will be celebrating its 5th Anniversary in October of this year. From its humble beginnings as a small monthly support group, our membership now numbers nearly 1400! It is wonderful that so many people are interested and involved in caring for St. Louis’ building heritage.

As the Rehabbers Club expanded in membership, broadened its base, and took on additional projects like the semi annual “Works in Progress” tour and the rehabbers classes, its organizational needs have changed. Handling money, building organizational capacity to manage projects, accepting donations, and sustaining the group require a level of organization above the loose affiliation of the e-mail list we all know and love.

A group of volunteers has been working diligently to lay the ground work for this new organization. So today, with much pride, we announce ReVitalize St. Louis!

We are a diverse coalition of citizens committed to revitalization in the city of St. Louis through historic preservation and sensitive, planned development. We address social, political and economic issues as they impact each of St. Louis’ neighborhoods.

Through partnerships, education, outreach, and support, we hope to create positive change in the urban St. Louis community with an eye towards preserving and rejuvenating the city’s physical landscape and inspiring progressive civic action.

Claralyn Bollinger (Treasurer), Marti Frumhoff (President), Tim Klaas, La’Shonda Turner-Brown (Vice President), Gayle Van Dyke, Steven Wilke-Shapiro (Secretary), and Taron Young.

St. Louis Rehabbers Club: This is a Yahoo! Groups email listserve that boasts over 1300 members – from an original group of 23 just 5 short years ago! This group shares everything from seasoned “how-to” content and where to live, to which local hardware store carries a hard-to-find item and who to contact at city hall for permits as well as a slew of other rehab-related subjects. The group meets once a month in a different city neighborhood with a determined goal of visiting all 79 designated areas over time.

Rehabbers Classes: Created out of a request for in-depth subject coverage from Rehabbers Club members, the classes, begun in 2003, have been a wonderful addition to the rehabbing community. The 14-week once-a-week classes have highlighted diverse subjects like historic tax credits, environmentally-responsible rehabbing, and both mixed-use and urban redevelopment issues, just to name a few.

The Big BIG Tour: This huge city-wide house tour with on-site homebuyer’s fair is enjoying its sixth successful year. It is totally free to the public and is a very popular venue with sponsors and exhibitors as well as the thousands of attendees who have passed through its doors over the years.

The Rehabbers Club won’t change. Those who want to continue to share renovation knowledge and resources online and at the monthly Rehabbers Club meetings probably won’t notice a difference.

However, there will be many opportunities for anyone who is interested to become more involved in reshaping the City. Please consider volunteering for one of the working committees or helping out at one of our many events.

Our working committees are Built Environment, Fundraising, Marketing, and Programming. We hope you will join us in creating the foundations for these committees as they take shape.

Our small and humble website is in the works and if you’re interested in becoming a member, we have membership opportunities available, all of which we’ll be telling you about very soon.

We look forward to your involvement and input as we all move forward together in continuing this great renaissance in the city of St. Louis!


Marti Frumhoff

ReVitalize St. Louis
P.O. Box 63062
St. Louis, MO 63163

East St. Louis, Illinois

Corno Mills Elevator

by Michael R. Allen

Once part of the large complex of Corno Mills, this lone grain elevator stands prominently alongside Interstate 64 near the new homes of Parsons Place. National Oats Company opened the Corno Mills in 1904, which thrived in the East St. Louis boom years only to close in the 1970’s after Cargill puchased the facility. Thousands of people see this elevator every day, but few people know its history as part of one of the east side’s largest feed mills.

There is no apparent reason for the elevator’s lonely vigil. Why it survived the demolition of the larger Corno complex is not certain. Nor is there a self-evident explanation for the removal of all of the stair risers on the elevator’s internal spiral staircase (see photograph below). The cast concrete structure is fairly strudy and should stand for another fifty years in its abandoned state, but whether or not the elevtaor survives that long is yet another uncertainty.

Clearance McRee Town South St. Louis

The Destruction of McRee Town: March 2005

Century Building Demolition Downtown

The Demolition of the Century Building: Cleaning Up

Photographs from February 28, 2005

By the end of February 2005, masons were working daily to cover the openings on the east wall of the Syndicate Trust Building, exposed when the connector structure between that building and the Century Building was removed. Other workers were picking through the rubble in the Century basement to separate out bits of steel and iron that could be sold as scrap.

2005 St. Louis Election Demolition Downtown North St. Louis South St. Louis

Some News Today


Masons are working quickly to close up the holes in the Syndicate Trust Building. Meanwhile, the Century basement is entirely excavated. The parking garage will sit on the basement floor, which will not be removed. So some part of the 1897 building will live on for the 60 years it will take for the parking garage replacement to collapse.

Oh, and the renderings of the replacement garage continue to show less and less detail. Perhaps the plan is to make the Old Post Office look better by building the ugliest downtown garage ever next to it.


Wreckers recently demolished the two-story storefront building directly north of Uncle Bill’s Pancake House on South Kingshighway. The little building, respledent with braided terra cotta columns and other details, was the only traditional storefront building remaining between Connecticut (near Arsenal) and Beck (near Chippewa) streets. The building fell for a an expansion of the Uncle Bill’s parking lot. Across the street, QuickTrip is building yet another new location.


A new Big Lots has opened in the once-moribund plaza at Kingshighway and Devonshire, behind the Department of Motor Vehicles office.


Arch City Chronicle reports that both Payless and OfficeMax in the St. Louis Marketplace are closing.


I love the one-story bungalows lining Kienlen Avenue north of Martin Luther King Boulevard. They are sturdy and simple, and due to road expansions now sit almost directly on the sidewalk line.


I am spotting lots of paired Irene Smith for Mayor and Darlene Green for Comptroller signs, including some in Shaw. In Ward 19, the pair often gets a third wheel — Re-Elect Michael McMillan for Alderman signs.


Steve Patterson posted an informative update on the shuttered Western Lanes bowling alley in his campaign blog. Steve in running for aldermen of the alley’s ward, 25, in the Democratic primary. If he wins the primary, he’ll be the next alderman, because no other parties have any candidates. Don’t forget to vote for him — in just eleven days!

Century Building Demolition Downtown

The Demolition of the Century Building: Excavation

Abandonment East St. Louis, Illinois Uncategorized

Is the Spivey Building Threatened?

by Michael R. Allen

On Thursday, January 20, 2005, acting East Saint Louis City manager Alvin Parks ordered the demolition of the Spivey Building (designed by Albert B. Frankel, completed 1928). Prompting his decision was a recent incident in which around fifty bricks from the roofline fell onto the street below during a gust of wind. A similar incident in July 2004 led city officials to condemn the building and erect a fence around the sidewalk surrounding it.

Parks did not specify how the city government would pay for demolition.

Yet a February 16, 2005 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the building’s owner, Phillip H. Cohn, objected to the forced demolition and promised the city government that either he or a prospective buyer would make necessary repairs within the near future. Parks accepted this promise and is holding off on demolition — for now.

St. Louis developer Cohn had purchased the Spivey Building for $75,000 in 2001 and sucessfully sought its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Cohn started removing asbestos-laden insulation illegally, having workers throw unsealed debris from the building’s windows. Neighbors complained to the city government about their exposure to the hazardous debris. The federal government has charged him with several federal crimes, including violations of regulations on asbestos removal. Work on the Spivey stopped in 2002.

The last tenant, State Community College, left the Spivey nearly twenty years ago. However, the building once was a prominent address in downtown East St. Louis, home to the old Metro Journal newspaper founded by publisher Allen T. Spivey, who built the building. For years, it housed many doctors’ offices that brought much of the city’s population through its doors. Its Sullivanesque ornament and stature make it a striking regional landmark. As the tallest building in Illinois south of Springfield, its significance echoes beyond East Saint Louis.

Saving the building is a great challenge, but one that the Saint Louis region should accept. Losing the Spivey would rob East Saint Louis of the chance to rebuild its downtown as a complementary urban district near re-emerging downtown Saint Louis. Let’s hope that the Spivey Building soon reopens and stays open.

Century Building Demolition Downtown

The Demolition of the Century Building: The Last Stand

The evening light fell upon the newly-uncovered east side of the Syndicate Trust Building, revealing a colorful cross-section of walls that were once part of the connector between the Syndicate Trust and Century buildings.

A large and spectacular unexpected collapse the night before had necessitated nearly completing above-ground demolition of the Century Building. The wreckers were supposed to leave a large section standing so that they could take it down ceremoniously in front of the developers responsible for the demolition.

At around 7:45 p.m., the wrecker pulled a cable to pull down the last free-standing above-ground portion of the Century Building while Steve Stogel and other developers watched. This photograph shows the two columns before the pull. Only one column fell on the first pull.