Paul Brown Building
818 Olive Street
Architect: Preston Bradshaw
On the west side of Ninth Street between Olive and Pine streets stands one of downtown’s latest early office buildings, the Paul Brown. Named for a banker and vice president of the Mercantile Trust Company, the Paul Brown Building was completed in 1926 from plans by architect Preston J. Bradshaw. The building was a speculative project, and it replaced older buildings on the site including the Odd Fellows Building at the corner of Ninth and Olive (1888). One of the tenants in the Odd Fellows Building, the Christian Science Reading Room, ended up being partly responsible for the Paul Brown’s design when the tenant won a court injunction against relocation. Bradshaw had to redesign the building to utilize the base columns and first floor of the older Odd Fellows Building. Given the inferior older structure of that building, Bradshaw reduced the height of the Paul Brown at the north from sixteen to twelve stories to avoid overloading the older building’s base.
Midwest Terminal Building
Location: 710 N. Tucker Boulevard
Architects: Mauran, Russell & Crowell
Now simply known as the Globe-Democrat Building, the Midwest Terminal Building was originally intended to house a freight terminal for the Illinois Terminal System underneath a 19-story building. The Illinois Terminal company developed the building. As designed by Mauraun, Russell & Crowell, the Midwest Terminal Building would have had two levels of parking, underground freight loading from the Illinois Terminal’s subterranean lines, a lobby and retail base, 16 floors of warehouse or general commercial space and three floors of offices above. The building would be accompanied by a 32-story tower one block south at the corner of Twelfth Street (now Tucker Boulevard) and Washington. This tower would house the passenger terminal of the Illinois Terminal Railroad, which provided electric interurban rail service to cities across Illinois including Peoria, Decatur and Urbana. Both buildings would be powerfully cubic, streamline Art Deco masses making dramatic use of setbacks. The Midwest Terminal Building was designed with a limestone-clad base and an elaborate carved entrance motif.
300 N. Broadway
Architects: Eames & Young
The Monward Realty Company, headed by developer and realtor Lawrence B. Pierce, acquired lots at the northeast corner of Olive and Broadway streets in 1911 and 1912. Located in the heart of the financial district, the site was well-suited for a modern office building. Monward Realty company hired Eames & Young to design the new building, which would later be named the Marquette Building. The firm came up with a plan consisting of a U-shaped 19-story base and a 10-story tower with pyramidal cap influenced by New York skyscrapers of the era. The building blended rugged steel frame construction with Classical Revival exterior detailing in brick, stone and terra cotta. The tower was never built, and the base was completed in 1913. In 1914, fire destroyed the Boatmen’s Bank Building at Fourth and Washington, and the bank elected to lease the first floor bank space already built out.
415 N. Tucker
Architects: Barnett, Hayes and Barnett
Built: 1904; 1928
Renowned local designers Barnett, Haynes & Barnett designed the original section of the fourteen-story Hotel Jefferson, completed in 1904. The Classical Revival building was completed with stacked bay windows offering wide views of downtown, and an ornate upper section and entablature that included round windows (later reconstructed as rectangular openings). In 1928, a major addition to the west was completed when owners rebranded the hotel as the New Hotel Jefferson. The addition notably did not attempt to replicate the appearance of the original section, but instead offered a more subdued but still classically-oriented facade on Locust Street.
812 Olive Street
Architect: Tom P. Barnett Co.
Developed by Edward Mallinckrodt as downtown’s first office building with an enclosed shopping arcade, the Arcade Building (also known as the Arcade-Wright Building) envelops the earlier Wright Building (1906) at the northwest corner of Eighth and Pine streets, designed by Eames & Young. Master of the picturesque and eclectic Tom P. Barnett designed the new building in the Gothic Revival style, a stylistic idiom well-suited to the two-story vaulted arcade inside. Construction began in 1917 while World War I claimed America’s steel supply, so the Arcade was built in reinforced concrete. Briefly, the building was the world’s largest reinforced concrete building. The exterior today retains the building’s characteristic lancet arched retail and entrance openings, with ornate bosses, terra cotta tracery at the top of the northern section, and dramatic bay windows facing Eighth and Olive streets. Gone is the original terra cotta cladding on the piers that terminated in projecting gargoyles above; the piers were reclad in brick during the 1930s after failure on the terra cotta anchoring.
Northwest corner of 7th and Locust streets
Architects: C.W. & George L. Rapp
The Ambassador Building was a seventeen-story building in the heart of Downtown St. Louis that housed one of the city’s most elaborate theaters beneath eleven stories of offices. The building was developed by theater magnate Spyros Skouras’s Skouras Brothers Company. Designed by noted theater architects Rapp & Rapp, who had also designed the St. Louis Theater (1925, now Powell Hall), the building balanced baroque terra cotta ornamentation at the base and griffin-adorned cornice with a powerful, plain brick shaft. Inside, the lavishly detailed 3,000-seat theater employed a French Renaissaince Revival style associated with the “Sun King” Louis XIV. After several years as a music venue, the theater closed down in 1976. The fixtures of the theater went to public auction in 1989; the chandeliers are still found in the Des Peres Cinema in West County. Mercantile Bank demolished the Ambassador in 1996 and 1997 to create space for a driveway to the Mercantile Tower (now the US Bank Tower). The St. Louis Building Arts Foundation recovered the terra cotta ornamental systems.
After the Circuit Court upheld the Planning Commission’s vote to block demolition of Cupples 7 in late June, there was little to report on the ailing historic warehouse building. Yesterday St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tim Bryant provided good news: Montgomery Bank foreclosed on owner Ballpark Lofts, which owed $1.4 million to the bank (along with some $250,000 owed to the city unpaid property taxes). Yesterday the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority voted unanimously to issue a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a redevelopment plan for the building.
Among recent arrivals in the office this week came this postcard view of the long-lost Carleton Building, whose decorated mass once stood proudly at the northeast corner of Sixth and Olive streets. Designed by architect Theodore C. Link, the Carleton was completed in 1899. The building’s owners bestowed the name honoring businessman Murray Carleton upon completion. Fronting 50 feet on Olive Street and 114 feet on Sixth Street, the ten-story building seems small by contemporary standards but received considerable attention in its time.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch announced construction on October 8, 1898. The newspaper reported that the Reliance Building Company had secured a 99-year lease from the owner of the site, Mrs. Virginia Peugnet. Reliance Building Company evicted the Mermod-Jaccard Company, jewelers, from the building standing on the site, which they demolished. The builder of the new, yet-unnamed building was Hill O’Meara Construction Company. According to the National Register nomination for the Hadley-Dean Glass Company Building, written by Carolyn H. Toft, construction of the Carleton Building required the manufacture of the largest piece of plate glass made to that date.
Amid a heat wave and the pop-pop of homegrown independence celebration came an easy-to-overlook but significant preservation victory: the St. Louis Circuit Court’s affirmation of the Preservation Board’s decision to block demolition of the warehouse at the Cupples Station complex known colloquially as “Cupples 7.” Upon appeal by owner Kevin McGowan’s company, the Preservation Board upheld the Cultural Resources Office denial of a demolition permit at its meeting on November 28, 2011. McGowan appealed the decision to the Planning Commission, which voted to take no action.
Under the city’s preservation ordinance, the final appeal is to the Circuit Court. McGowan followed in the footsteps of legendary developer Larry Deutsch, who in 1995 famously obtained a Circuit Court ruling overturning the predecessor Heritage and Urban Design Commission’s denial of demolition of the former Miss Hullings Building at 11th and Locust Streets. McGowan’s Ballpark Lofts III LLC joined creditor Montgomery Bank in a suit against the city in Circuit Court seeking demolition as well as inverse condemnation. On Friday last week, McGowan lost on both counts.
The Circuit Court ruling affirms all of the Cultural Resources Office and Preservation Board findings, yet it concedes that the point of Cupple 7’s soundness under the definition of the preservation ordinance “presents the Court with its most difficult assessment of the evidence.” Yet the Court disagrees with the conclusions submitted by McGowan’s structural engineer. Most importantly, the Court ruling finds that McGowan failed to explore temporary structural stabilization of the building — a point that preservationists brought up at the Preservation Board meeting.
Perhaps the most significant part of the ruling is its dismissal of claims made by McGowan attorney Jerry Altman that structural stabilization of Cupples 7 would cost $7-8 million and full rehabilitation would cost about $52 million. The Court’s response is summed up as “prove it” — the Court finds that McGowan submitted no independent analysis to prove these figures had any basis. Likewise, the Court dismissed Altman’s assertions about the loss should McGowan’s company sell the building for less than its mortgage of $1.4 million. Again, no evidence.
The Circuit Court ruling on Cupples 7 affirms the strength of the city’s preservation ordinance, and the need for Preservation Board decisions to be considered on the basis of fact. On the surface, this seems to be a very simple ruling. Yet its timing makes it very important. Besides McGowan, recent demolition seekers at Preservation Board meetings, like the AAA, have brought forth claims about architectural merit and reuse potential that lack legal, financial or professional base. The Cupples 7 ruling reminds everyone that those arguments don’t hold any legal weight, and that the Preservation Board should continue to stick to the facts.
Postmodernism’s preservationist audience has yet to emerge, but when it does it may find solace in the fact that not all of St. Louis Centre was altered in its parking garage transformation. On the top level of the garage, now called the Seventh Street Garage, remains the barrel vault skylight that once illuminated the mall atrium. The atrium’s openings have been infilled by new floor plates, and the interior’s white and green supplanted by the gray din of utility, but the lighting remains beautiful.