Demolition Fire Lewis Place North St. Louis

4416-22 Martin Luther King Boulevard

by Michael R. Allen

At about 8:30 p.m. on August 8, I was driving toward downtown on I-64/40 and saw a huge gray smoke cloud against the also-gray night sky. I noticed bright orange flames reaching skyward. I took the Grand Avenue exit and headed north, then west until I pinpointed the location near Martin Luther King Boulevard and Taylor.

I arrived near the building at 8:38 p.m., passing two newly-burnt buildings on the way (the damage on both was anywhere from one day to one week old). When I got close, I watched firefighters battling an intense blaze behind a two-story commercial building west of the corner of Newstead Avenue and MLK. The address of the building is 4416-22 Martin Luther King Boulevard.

I left because I could not get close enough to see the building well, and the smoke on the ground was thick enough to preclude good viewing from the sidewalk.

I tuned in various AM radio stations, hoping to catch a breaking news report. Nothing. Later tonight, I watched the local television news reports on KMOV Channel 4 and KSDK Channel 5. There were stories of suburban fires, but none about this one. I had spotted a helicopter circling the fire and had assumed it contained a television news camera person.

I just searched the websites of those stations as well as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and located no stories about the fire. I did, however, find stories about fires at the following north city locations within the last 48 hours:

  • 2400 block of Sarah
  • 5200 block of Maple

    The building at 4416-24 Martin Luther King Boulevard on August 10, 2005. Photograph by Claire Nowak-Boyd.

    I returned to the fire on MLK the next day and also did some research.

    The building that burned was a two-story commercial building at the rear of 4416-22 Martin Luther King. I write “rear” because the building that burned down was not originally attached to the storefront building that faces Martin Luther King and was only joined with a crude connector — good news for the building, I suppose.

    Looking toward the fire damaged one-story building on August 9, 2005. We could not get any closer per the work crew’s presence. Photograph by Michael R. Allen.

    The rear building was reduced to a pile of rubble and only a few sections of the outer brick walls stand, none higher than eight feet.

    Saint Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church owns the buildings. Who knows what will become of the two-story building, with its graceful Union Foundry cast iron storefront columns and elegant lines. (Note the already-removed cornice and the odd-sized window sills.)


  • Categories
    Abandonment Fire Hyde Park North St. Louis

    Nord St. Louis Turnverein, Yesterday and Today

    The Nord St. Louis Turnverein, open for business in 1981. (Source: Landmarks Association of St. Louis Archive.)

    The Nord St. Louis Turnverein, after a devastating fire on July 4, 2006. (Photograph by Claire Nowak-Boyd.)

    LOCATION: 1926-30 Salisbury Street; Hyde Park; Saint Louis, Missouri
    DATE OF CONSTRUCTION: 1879; 1893 (addition); 1898 (addition)
    ARCHITECTS: H.W. Kirchner; Oscar Raeder (1893 & 1898 additions)
    OWNER: DHP Investments LLC

    Fire South St. Louis Southwest Garden

    Lecoutour Brothers Stair Manufacturing Company

    by Michael R. Allen

    This building once housed the operations of the Lecoutour Brothers Stair Manufacturing Company. According to a website on the historic McFaddin-Ward House in Beaumont, Texas: “Unlike mail-order companies such as Sears and Montgomery Ward, the Lecoutour Brothers firm specialized in custom-made or ‘odd work,’ as they termed it for their clients.”

    In recent years, the building was used by the adjacent Sterling Lacquer Manufacturing Company. The building burned in a spectacular blaze in early May 2005.

    Other photographs

  • Burnt factory: Photos by Toby Weiss
  • Photos by Nick Findley
  • Categories
    Clearance Crime Fire McRee Town

    More Fires in McRee Town

    From the October 26 St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

    “3 suspicious fires hit McRee Town” [link defunct]

    “Suspicious fires were set in two vacant buildings in McRee Town early Monday and in a third building nearby, authorities reported. The fires were in the 4000 block of McRee and Folsom Avenues in McRee Town and a three-story multifamily building at 39th Street and Shaw Boulevard.

    “All the fires were discovered between 3 and 4 a.m., and police bombing and arson squad detectives presume all three were set by the same person. McRee Town was beset by a rash of fires in December, but until Monday the area had had just one fire over the past six months.”

    Fire Midtown

    National Memorial Church of God in Christ

    by Michael R. Allen

    The church in 1972. (Source: Heritage/St. Louis Collection, Landmarks Association of St. Louis)

    LOCATION: 460 N. Spring Avenue; Midtown; Saint Louis, Missouri
    OWNER: Grand Center, Inc.

    A bolt of lightning struck the National Memorial Church of God in Christ in March 2001, and the church burned. The church building was built in 1884 by the Garrison Avenue Baptist Church, which reconstituted itself here as the Delmar Baptist Church. The congregation followed its upper-middle-class and wealthy members by moving to Delmar and Pendleton avenues in 1892. A Swedenborgian congregation, the Church of the New Jerusalem, was the next occupant. In the 1950s, the Pentecostal, African-American National Memorial Church of God in Christ purchased the building and began services.

    After the fire, the church shell sat in Midtown containing the charred debris of the church roof, pews and altar. Eventually, Grand Center, Incorporated bought the building for conversion to an urban sculpture garden. In late 2003, construction crews removed the debris and began renovation. Yet after initially filling the basement with gravel in spring 2004, the crews stopped work.