Central West End Mid-Century Modern

New Central West End Standards Will Protect Recent Past Architecture (Whatever That Will Be)

by Michael R. Allen

The now-demolished San Luis Apartments (DeVille Motor Hotel; 1963, Charles Colbert) in context. Photograph from 2009 by Jeff Vines.

On June 22, 2009, the Preservation Board voted 3-2 to grant preliminary approval to demolition of a landmark work of non-residential modern architecture designed by a renowned architect with a national practice, located in the Central West End Local Historic District. Readers with memories long and short will know that this building was the DeVille Motor Hotel (later San Luis Apartments) at the northeast corner of Lindell and Taylor avenues, completed in 1963 and designed by Charles Colbert, partner in the firm of Colbert Hess Lowery & Boudreaux. Some of the same number will know the arduous struggle by preservationists to get the Archdiocese to reconsider demolishing the curvaceous former motel, which ended up in a lengthy Preservation Board meeting.

North St. Louis Old North This Building Matters

This Building Matters #1: 1914 & 1916 Palm Street, Old North

Preservation Research Office is pleased to present the first episode of a regular video series called This Building Matters. The premise is simple: Preservation is something lots of of people care about and practice in their daily lives. This series documents the everyday experiences of historic preservation in St. Louis, and the preservationists in our communities across the region. The format is simple and spontaneous — these episodes come from our field work, and may be unrehearsed. After all, we run into people doing good work every day.

For our first effort, we talked to Stefene Russell about two historic houses on her block in Old North St. Louis. Stefene lives across the street and is rehabbing a small house that, along with the two houses shown here, is one of the three remaining buildings on the south side of the 1900 block of Palm Street. Their loss would change the lives of Stefene and her neighbors forever. [Note: Turn up the volume; our audio skills are young.]

If you have an idea for the series, let us know by posting a comment or sending Michael Allen a note at Thanks for watching!

DALATC Eminent Domain North St. Louis Northside Regeneration Uncategorized

Eminent Domain, Northside Regeneration and the St. Louis American

by Michael R. Allen

The most recent edition of the St. Louis American‘s lively Political Eye editorial column deals with the Missouri Supreme Court consideration of the Northside Regeneration redevelopment agreement and tax increment financing bills, invalidated by Circuit Court ruling in July 2010. The Supreme Court took the case under advisement after a November 28 hearing and will issue a ruling early next year.

As a longtime observer of the Northside Regeneration project concerned with both its historic preservation and cultural impacts on north St. Louis, I was struk by one of the Political Eye’s statements:

The EYE is certain McKee would have taken the right to eminent domain had he been able to finagle it, but he was not. Both the Land Assemblage Tax Credit legislation that lavishly benefitted his project and the Northside redevelopment agreement with the city expressly forbid the use of eminent domain.

Actually the use of eminent domain has never been forbidden for Northside Regeneration by state or local statute — although Mayor Francis Slay has stated several times that he would not support the use of eminent domain on owner-occupied housing for the project.

Abandonment North St. Louis Northside Regeneration Pruitt Igoe

“The Viability of St. Louis as an Urban Place”: Karrie Jacobs on Pruitt-Igoe and Northside Regeneration

Sumac and the skyline: Downtown St. Louis viewed from inside of the Pruitt-Igoe forest.

In her Metropolis column this month, under the title of “Saint Louis Blues”, Karrie Jacobs reflects on her fall visit to St. Louis (she was keynote speaker at the FORM Contemporary Design Show). The column takes on both the Northside Regeneration project (“[n]o one could explain what he was doing, aside from getting compensated for his land purchases by a peculiar piece of Missouri legislation”) and the winners of the Pruitt Igoe Now design competition: “I’m sorry that most of the finalists have given up on the viability of St. Louis as an urban place. Residents here have nothing to feel inferior about. The component parts of a great city are still there.”

Historic Preservation North St. Louis Northside Regeneration St. Louis Place

The Winkelman House on St. Louis Avenue: A Popular Emblem, Fading Away

by Michael R. Allen

The Winkelman House in Septmeber 2005.

[Previous coverage: The Precarious Condition of Two Beautiful Houses on St. Louis Avenue, August 12, 2009]

The front elevation of the Bernhardt Winkelman House at 1936 St. Louis Avenue has become a quiet cultural icon for visitors to the near north side. No other front wall in that area may be as much-photographed, with a possible representational life without end. There is no doubt that the diminishing state of the built environment has enhanced the visibility of the three-story stone-faced house, but there also is a certain decorative quality possessed by the front elevation that is notable in its own right. To state that the façade is beloved would be an understatement, but also an assertion closer to the fact of the building’s status than any more formal descriptors. The Winkelman House, imperiled though it may be by current circumstance, may well be the popular emblem of the St. Louis Place neighborhood’s store of high-style residences.

The Winkelman House in January 2007.

Officially, the Winkelman House is a contributing resource in the Clemens House-Columbia Brewery Historic District (NR 7/22/1986). Built by German-born wholesale grocery merchant Bernhardt Winkelman c. 1873, the house contributes to two areas of significance identified in the 1986 amendment to the District nomination: Architecture and Ethnic Heritage. In 2009, owner Northside Regeneration LLC (which purchased the house in 2005) placed the property on its list of “Legacy Properties” identified for preservation — a list required as part of the city’s master redevelopment agreement with Northside Regeneration.

Downtown Parking Preservation Board

More Parking Lots in Downtown St. Louis: Unacceptable

by Michael R. Allen

The red arrow marks 1105-9 Olive Street. The letter P denotes all surface and structured parking in the vicinity.

Yesterday the St. Louis Preservation Board unanimously voted to withhold preliminary approval of Larry Deutsch’s plan to demolish the historic building at 1105-9 Olive Street and replace them with a surface parking lot. Deutsch’s attorney, former alderman and City Counselor Thomas Connelly, attempted to divert consideration of the ordinance criteria with unrelated arguments about the viability of downtown development, tenants’ demands for parking spaces and the loosely-documented structural condition of the building’s east wall.

Abandonment North St. Louis Old North Planning

Sustainable Land Lab Competition First Phase Submission Due December 10

Led by Washington University in St. Louis, the Sustainable Land Lab kicked off with an event on Friday, November 2 at the Contemporary Art Museum. (By the way, Ron Sims’ moving talk from the kick-off is now available on the website as a podcast.) The Sustainable Land Lab picks up the intellectual threads of GOOD Ideas for Cities and Pruitt Igoe Now and attempts to weave a program in which innovative urban land use projects are implements on vacant parcels in Old North — a neighborhood where experimenting with the urban condition is welcome.

Sustainable Land Lab is focused on implementation: teams that win will get land and money, and the chance to make things actually happen. Preservation Research Office is delighted to advise the competition and help teams with our knowledge of Old North and urban abandonment.

The first round of submissions is due December 10, so there is not much time to create your concept. Get details here and join in an amazing and spirited experiment.

Downtown Preservation Board

Part of Music Row Threatened

by Michael R. Allen

The building at 1107-09 Olive Street before Maurizio's Pizza closed.

With demolition threatening the building at 1107-09 Olive Street, a look back at the history of the building shows that the building is part of the important “Music Row” cultural district on Olive Street between 10th and Tucker. Today, the narrow buildings on these two blocks that conform to the traditional city lot size share space with larger buildings like the Laclede Gas Building (1911, Mauran Russell & Crowell) and the former St. Louis Post-Dispatch Printing Plant at 1111 Olive Street (1942, Russell, Mullgardt, Schwarz & Van Hoefen). Historically, the encroachment of these big buildings has threatened the little ones, but today the supposed parking needs of the Laclede Gas Building, owned by storied downtown real estate developer Larry Deutsch, is the threat.

Abandonment Demolition LRA North St. Louis The Ville

Losing More Buildings on Martin Luther King Drive

by Michael R. Allen

4220, 4222 and 4224 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive during demolition in fall 2007.

In September and October 2007, the Land Reutilization Authority wrecked the three two-part commercial buildings at 4220, 4222 and 4224 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in the Ville. The demolitions hardly were startling. Alderman Sam Moore (D-4th), then in his first year of service, requested the demolition as part of his efforts to deal with abandoned properties. Then, the center building collapsed. The Preservation Board unanimously approved demolition at its September 2007 meeting, based on a report by then-Cultural Resources Office Director Kate Shea that recommended approval.

Next up: 4234 and 4236 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive.
Gate District Planning South St. Louis

Out of Place Or Right At Home? Either Way, Allowable Under St. Louis’ Zoning Ordinance

by Michael R. Allen

The new house at 2838-46 Lafayette Avenue. Out of place or right at home in the Gate District?

With change coming to the Sixth Ward aldermanic seat, perhaps it is timely to consider the new house at 2838-46 Lafayette Avenue in the Gate District. While the Gate District’s reconstruction has led to many new houses built with non-urban forms for a net decrease in the historic density of the neighborhood, none of the houses built since the Duane-Plater-Zyberk-authored master plan was adopted in 1991 have been quite as, uh, non-urban as this recently-completed one-story house. The house’s floor heights are far too short for it to complement surrounding building stock (which admittedly is somewhat depleted), its width occupies three lots and thus starts an imbalance in the rhythm of its street face and its setback from the street is excessively deep for Lafayette Avenue. The problem isn’t style or age, because there are two new houses across the street that work well enough for the urban setting.