TOUR 9/7: Reber Place in Southwest Garden

Why is there a large Foursquare next to a a four-family on a "Place"? Come on the tour to find out!
Why is there a large Foursquare next to a a four-family on a “Place”? Come on the tour to find out!

Come enjoy a Walking Tour of the Reber Place Historic District this Saturday, Saturday Sept. 7, 10:30 to noon.  Meet at 4900 Reber Place at 10:30 am to begin the tour.  Register at the link below, or just show up.

Preservation Research Office Affiliate Architectural Historian Lynn Josse wrote the historic district nomination for the Reber Place Historic District (with assistance from Michael R. Allen). Lynn has graciously agreed to lead a tour of this historic area, beginning at the corner of Reber and Kingshighway. The tour is free. Donations are gladly accepted. This historic district designation enables property owners to apply for historic tax credits on major renovation projects.

Historic tax credits have had a positive impact on economic development; spurring investment, construction jobs, and enticing new families to the area. Learn about the architecture, the families that originally developed the neighborhood, and the businesses that once existed in the Reber Place Historic District.

(Note: If you took Michael Allen’s Reber Place tour in 2012, you should come get Lynn’s version just to be sure you have the right information!)


PRO TOUR: That Summer Fields Grew High: Agriculture & Architecture in St. Louis Place


Saturday, August 24
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Meet across from Crown Candy Kitchen, 1401 St. Louis Avenue

St. Louis Place is one of the city’s most time-altered neighborhoods — but that makes it a place of uncanny possibilities. Platted in 1850, built up by 1900, and ravaged by federal and local clearance policies in the late 20th century, the neighborhood survives with resilience. Come see historic architecture and activist agriculture — architecture and horticulture — people and place.

The tour led by architectural historian Michael R. Allen starts at Crown Candy Kitchen in Old North and moves from there. The former Pruitt-Igoe site is included.

Presented by Preservation Research Office. $5 per person (cash please).

Questions? or 314-920-5680.



Abandonment Art Events

Following Time and Trauma Across the City: Two Exhibitions Opening This Weekend

by Michael R. Allen

The City Inside/Out
Opening Friday, June 7 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Sheldon Art Galleries

St. Louis’ built environment has been a yielding subject to many photographers over the years, from Emil Boehl to Charles Cushman to Toby Weiss. Each view transports us to a different city with the same name — or so the frozen images tease us to believe. The week closes with the opening of a large polyphonic urban photographic exhibit at the Sheldon Art Galleries, in which we find not only different cities but different frames.

meyerowitzAmid our current fascination with remaking the Arch grounds, and consideration of our ongoing vacancy crisis, Joel Meyerowitz’s St. Louis and the Arch (1979-1982) series should be of heightened interest. Meyerowitz depicts the relationship between a modern monument and a city in transition. Roland Barthes’ punctum — defined in Camera Lucida as that photographic element that “pierces the viewer” — may well be off-frame, wherever the people missing from so many of the images may be (South County? Clayton?). The Meyerowitz images are over thirty years old now, and recent urban regeneration might cast them in a new light.

raimistOther photographers with work in The City Inside/Out include Andrew Raimist, Ken Konchel, David Johnson, Demond Meek, Alise O’Brien and Richard Sprengeler. Raimist drills down in Meyerowitz’s world to the surface of the Arch itself, capturing the vandal-created surface texture that belies its unitary skyline presence. Meek’s images of abandoned buildings, largely in isolation as if sprung from the unconscious upon the landscape, provide a reminder of the more troublesome impact of time on architectural beauty.

Shifting Terrains: Works By Carlie Trosclair
Opening Saturday, June 8 from 7:00 – 11:00 p.m.
Drew Henry salon&gallery, 2309 Cherokee Street

Saturday, on kinetic Cherokee Street, the south side’s fastest-changing artery, there is another noteworthy opening. Carlie Trosclair will exhibit recent works in a show entitled Shifting Terrains at the Drew Henry salon&gallery. Some may recall being captured by Trosclair’s soft sculpture installations at various venues (although perhaps not in a river stream in Vermont). These fervent spatial occupations evince an originality desperately lacking in local hard-architecture practice and a searing psychological intensity that can simultaneously intimidate and mesmerize.


In Shifting Terrains, Trosclair offers an array of impressionistic entry points into constructed space. Her alterations to photographs of decayed interiors are a welcome break from the traditional gaze upon architectural ruin. By casting aside photorealism, these works evoke their subjects’ dreamlike — perhaps sometimes nightmarish — experiential nature more vividly than straight-on documents.

Architect Eric Mendelsohn wrote in Amerika that the American city was “unbridled, mad, frenetic, lusting for life.” While Mendelsohn was capturing traits of the twentieth century’s rapid urban pulse, Trosclair’s works suggest that even in decay our cities possess an energetic secret life. Perhaps even that life is more terrifying now that it comes from urban free-fall instead of controlled growth. Yet there may be a quiet order in urban trauma we don’t always detect — and Trosclair seems intent on finding that order.


Talk: The James Clemens, Jr. House: St. Louis’ Most Endangered House

May is National Historic Preservation Month, and we have joined the Chatillon-DeMenil House foundation for an event that will raise awareness of the plight of an endangered sister house on the north side.


The James Clemens, Jr. House: St. Louis’ Most Endangered House

Sunday, May 5, 2013
2:00 p.m.
Chatillon-DeMenil House, 3352 DeMenil Place

In 1858, James Clemens began building a magnificent country home on Cass Avenue outside of the central city. Designed by Patrick Walsh, the Clemens House embodied the principles of Palladian villa design while utilizing cast iron for man of its architectural elements, a rarity in St. Louis if not nationally. This grand house has gone through changes over the years, and today sits facing an uncertain future. Abandoned and neglected for the last twenty years, James Clemens’ house is the last antebellum mansion in St. Louis to not be restored or rehabilitated. Architectural historian Michael R. Allen will present the story of the house — past, present and future. This event is free.


Call Party at the Harry Hammerman House to Save the Missouri Historic Tax Credit

Wednesday April 24, 2013, 4:00-7:00 pm

at the Harry Hammerman House
219 Graybridge Rd. Ladue, MO 63124

Please join us at the mid-century modern Harry Hammerman House (1952), designed and built by Harry Hammerman following principles of Frank Lloyd Wright. The Hammerman House was rehabilitated in 2008 using the historic tax credit. We will contact legislators, including key St. Louis County-based opponents, urging them to preserve the historic tax credit, which is currently under a grave threat in the State Capitol. Written materials will be provided to guide your interactions. Wine and refreshments will also be available.

RSVP to Christian Frommelt:, or (314) 323-6854

Abandonment Events Old North

Sustainable Land Lab Winners Revealed Next Week

by Michael R. Allen

A vacant lot on 14th Street in Old North.

In St. Louis, vacant land is a huge problem. Yet the details are small: a single lot here, a moribund city-owned red-brick house there, or a dead gas station down the block. As the city struggles to conjure systematic strategies for dealing with the vacancy and to gain rapid demand for land reuse — big solutions — some small solutions are emerging. Many business owners, neighbors and dreamers have conquered a building or a lot, often making a critical impact for a larger area.

Bistro Box, a finalist in the Sustainable Land Lab Competition.

The Sustainable Land Lab Competition, sponsored by Washington University in St. Louis, offers a moderate-sized method for vacant land reclamation. The competition secured four vacant parcels in the heart of the Old North St. Louis neighborhood, and funds to offer both two-year leases and $5,000 to implement practical, ready-to-build ideas for reusing them. The proximity of the lots might provide a sizable visual impact, depending on the four winners announced next week.

Sunflower+Project: STL, a finalist in the Sustainable Land Lab Competition.

Among the eight finalists chosen from the initial 48 submissions are the “Bistro Box,” a container cafe placed on 14th Street near Crown Candy Kitchen, and the Sunflower Project, which envisions an interim use of sunflower cultivation that also would aid soil remediation on a polluted vacant lot. Some might argue that these ideas are impractical or ephemeral — but they are not much like projects this city has ever tried before. New ideas are not “destined” to fail or work. New ideas carry the pulse of city’s best minds, without guaranteed results.

The great part about the Sustainable Land Lab Competition process is that these solutions are both malleable (a two-year lease offers a good test period) and transportable (they could be done on different sites, multiple sites or better sites). Also, the competition should encourage neighborhoods to take action now. All we have is now, the song goes — so let these ideas inspire more local, less-structured actions regionally. After all, the whole city came into being by furtive, sustainable land development. St. Louis remains an experiment.



Thursday, April 11
6:30 PM
Bridge, 1004 Locust Street

Disclaimer: I serve on the Sustainable Land Lab Competition Advisory Committee.



Hand-On Preservation Training March 13 & 14

Missouri Preservation One Day Hands-On Training: March 13 & 14, 2013
Care, Restoration & Repair of Historic Masonry

Materials to be covered include mixture and pointing for brick surfaces, cleaning and repair of brick, limestone, sandstone and terra cotta.

Date(s): March 13 & 14, 2013 (second date will be filled after first date registration filled)
Time: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Location: The Lemp Brewery Complex
3410 Lemp Avenue, Suite 22A, STLMO 63118

Credits: Three hours HSW (AIA approved credits)

Cost: $75 registration fee

RSVP: To register and learn details, download this form.


Public Meeting on Citywide Non-Residential Mid-Century Modern Survey

The Cultural Resources Office soon will host the first public meeting on the citywide survey of non-residential mid-century modernist architecture. On Monday, February 11 at 5:30 p.m., the meeting starts inside of an appropriate setting: the former L. Douglas Abrams Federal Building at 1520 Market Street, completed in 1961 from plans by Murphy & Mackey with William B. Ittner, Inc.

Last year the Cultural Resources Office issued a request for proposals for a consultant to aid in conducting the survey and developing context statements. Peter Meijer, Architect PC of Portland, Oregon won the bid. (Disclosure: PRO submitted a bid.) Meijer included architectural historian and energetic modernista Christine Madrid French on the team, a very good move and one that hopefully leads to the spirited public engagement that Christine brought to the National Trust’s TrustModern initiative in the past. (Chris’ Twitter feed is a must-read: @archmod.)

One of the purposes of this first public meeting is to gather public input on ranking of 40 buildings selected as potential candidates for further study and potential City Landmark designation. The Cultural Resources Office promises to post information on the survey website as well.


PRO Cinema: “Between Two Rivers” at Washington University January 30th

Preservation Research Office is happy to help promote education on regional historic preservation issues, so we are pleased to join Washington University in St. Louis’ American Culture Studies Program to publicly screen Between Two Rivers. Between Two Rivers is not a straight-up preservation story, but rather presents the economic, social and racial dynamics that have impacted the physical character of the shrinking city of Cairo, Illinois.

Please join us!

Events Mid-Century Modern

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