Bridges Fountain Park Martin Luther King Drive Mid-Century Modern North St. Louis St. Louis County

Finding Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in St. Louis

by Michael R. Allen

The city's Land Reutilization Authority owns the vacant building at 4553 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in the Greater Ville.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Bridge at sunrise. Photograph from Wikipedia Commons.

Our city’s enduring legacy to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. consists of the renamed Veterans Memorial Bridge (built 1951, renamed 1968) and the several-miles of combined Franklin and Easton avenues (renamed in 1968). The bridge is ever-functional and well-maintained, but the street honoring America’s greatest twentieth century political leader generally is a poor testament to the man. No matter how many miles of fresh concrete sidewalks and pink granitoid old-fashioned street lights go up on Martin Luther King Drive, the street’s condition generally is depressing, and most of its miles lack even basic beautification measures like street trees. (Of course, that street named for the slave-owning founder Thomas Jefferson is not much better off in many stretches.)

Historic Preservation Housing North St. Louis Old North

Step Away From the “Like” Button And Write A Check Already: Brickstarting a Rehab in Old North

by Emily Kozlowski

One of these things is not like the others. 1316 North Market Street, at left, needs help.

Here is a chance to actively participate in preserving a part of St. Louis. Old North Saint Louis
Restoration Group (ONSLRG) recently bought this three-story, brick structure at 1316 North Market from the Land Reutilization Authority (LRA). In 2005 there were vacant lots on either side of the building. Today, there are newly built homes surrounding it. Preserving this building would retain the urban past of the block and maintain the positive momentum that the community has been building in the area.

Events Mid-Century Modern

Workshop: Authenticity + Sustainability: Making the Most of Your MCM Masterpiece

Abandonment Academy Neighborhood North St. Louis

Vacancy on Kensington Avenue

by Michael R. Allen

Currently we are working on preparing a historic tax credit application for a property on the 5200 block of Kensington Avenue. The block is located behind the mighty, proud building housing Soldan High School, and slopes downward into one of the city’s hidden gem neighborhoods, Academy. Most of the Academy neighborhood is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the Mt. Cabanne-Raymond Place Historic District (nomination by Lynn Josse). The streets in the area are lined with a classic array of St. Louis brick (and a few stone) houses and two-flats, sporting the latest fashions in architecture at the turn of the twentieth century.

However, vacancy is a problem. Vacant lots dot a still very cohesive landscape, but vacant houses may start to dominate. On our first day of work, we spotted a hand-written for-sale sign in front of a vacant house across the street.

5207 Kensington Avenue in the Academy neighborhood.
South St. Louis Tower Grove East

Slow Modifications, Historic Preservation and the Closure of St. Elizabeth Academy

by Michael R. Allen

View of St. Elizabeth Academy looking southeast from St. Elizabeth at Pestalozzi avenues.

The impending closure of Catholic girls’ school St. Elizabeth Academy revisits territory hotly debated in Tower Grove East two years ago, when the Academy threatened to demolish parts of its historic campus to make itself more marketable. The Board of Directors of St. Elizabeth Academy and its tireless, persistent President, Sister Susan Borgel, were facing the reality that the very existence of the 131-year-old institution was threatened. A possible counteract was to demolish all of the buildings on the campus save a 1957 wing on Arsenal Street, and build contemporary facilities that other Catholic schools like Nerinx Hall and Rosati-Kain were able to provide. After careful consideration, the Tower Grove East Neighborhood Association formally opposed the demolition, but also pledged to assist the Academy’s efforts to sustain itself should preservation of its historic buildings be part of the plan. The crux of historic preservation again surfaced: do we first preserve buildings or communities of people that support buildings? Should cultural resource laws protecting buildings be bent when historic institutions’ futures are on the line?

Demolition This Building Matters

This Building Matters #3: Powell Square

The building known as “Powell Square,” located at Third and Cedar streets near downtown, was built in 1917 as the pharmaceutical factory of the John T. Milliken Chemical Company. Later users included the Fulton Bag Company and Dan Powell Company, which both used the building for warehouse space. A company controlled by attorney Stephen Murphy has owned the building since 2001. Murphy, who owns neighboring buildings in the south riverfront area, planned to rehabilitate the building into artists’ studios and other uses, but eventually abandoned the project.

On December 28, 2012, the Building Commissioner Frank Oswald approved a permit to demolish the building as an emergency order. The City of St. Louis is paying for the demolition, which will be billed to the owner. We asked local entrepreneur Ryan Albritton to discuss the demolition and what it means to the city.

North St. Louis Northside Regeneration Pruitt Igoe

Video: Winter at Pruitt-Igoe

This video documents a site visit on January 6, 2013. What a beautiful day for a walk in the forest!

Events Pruitt Igoe

Pruitt-Igoe Panel Discussion at Laumeier Saturday

More information can be found on the Laumeier Sculpture Park website.

James Clemens House North St. Louis St. Louis Place This Building Matters

This Building Matters #2: James Clemens, Jr. House

On Christmas Eve, we visited a hallowed site in our city’s architectural heritage: the James Clemens, Jr. House. The condition of the house and its still-evident beauty moved Steven Fitzpatrick Smith, who joined us for the visit. As the video shows, the condition of the Clemens House continues to worsen. Yet we cannot let this treasure be lost.

Bohemian Hill Demolition South St. Louis

Nothing Sustainable About Bohemian Hill Demolition

by Michael R. Allen

Looking northwest at the house located at the corner of Soulard and Tucker avenues in 2004.

On November 19, the Building Division issued a demolition permit for the historic house at the northwest corner of Soulard Avenue and Tucker Boulevard on Bohemian Hill. The Building Division paid over $7,000 for the demolition as part of routine city demolition package for condemned buildings. This house was condemned for demolition in August 2007 and its owners were AWOL. Yet the house was likely to go to Sheriff’s land tax auction in 2013, and could have been purchased by a rehabber for less than $2,000.