Historic Preservation Northside Regeneration Old North

Northside Regeneration’s Field Office

by Michael R. Allen

The Northside Regeneration field office.

In the United States, historic preservation almost always is a function of property ownership. The agency of an owner to make choices can lead to some puzzling losses and some unlikely saves. Readers know that the historic preservation agenda of Northside Regeneration has been of great interest to this writer for years. Thus I was pleasantly surprised that the company chose to rehabilitate a pretty unremarkable — but solid and attractive — former truck transfer depot at Howard and in Old North as its field office.

NS = Northside.

The office is within the “Area A” of the larger redevelopment plan — an area that has a separate redevelopment ordinance still in effect unlike the vacated master ordinance. This area currently is mounded with a variegated array of crushed materials flowing to and from new river bridge. Here Northside Regeneration proposes a materials recycling center, and just behind the new field office is the landing of the old Illinois Terminal interurban trestle that Great Rivers Greenway will repurpose as a trail.

Will the little transfer depot — one of many built north of downtown in the 1930s in place of rows of tenement houses — survive the changes coming in this area? That is not certain, but for now Northside Regeneration has an unlikely first completed rehabilitation project.

Historic Preservation Missouri

Missouri’s Most Endangered Historic Places Announced

Missouri Preservation announced its List of Most Endangered Historic Places for 2011 on Tuesday, June 7, 2011. The slate of endangered sites was unveiled at a Missouri Preservation Press Conference, held at the Oak Grove Mausoleum St. Louis County, which itself is on the 2011 List of Most Endangered Historic Places.

Hodgen School in St. Louis' Gate District neighborhood, nominated to the statewide endangered list by PRO's Michael Allen and Lindsey Derrington.

The Most Endangered Historic Places, one of Missouri Preservation’s most visible programs, calls much needed attention to threatened historic resources throughout the state. The Most Endangered Program annually highlights historic resources that are “at risk.” Each year Missouri Preservation solicits nominations from around the State, evaluates the merits of the submissions, and announces the “Most Endangered.” Throughout the year, Missouri Preservation provides technical assistance, advocacy, and planning support for the listed properties.

Missouri Preservation Board President Karen Bode Baxter, Penny Pitman, Chairperson of the Missouri Preservation’s Most Endangered Historic Places Committee and Bill Hart, Missouri Preservation’s Field Representative made the announcement.

Nine listings representing eleven buildings and structures were held over from the 2010 List, as they are still considered endangered and continue to need support to save them from deterioration or destruction. Six historic places are new to the 2011 list, including the Williams-Gierth House in Poplar Bluff, the Jefferson School in Cape Girardeau, the William P. Thompson House in the Trenton vicinity, the Delmo Community Center in Homestown, the Hodgen School Building in St. Louis City, and the Oak Grove Mausoleum and Chapel in St. Louis County. More detailed information about all endangered historic places is available here.

Historic Preservation

What Preservation Month Is About

As Preservation Month draws to a close, the St. Louis Beacon has a published a story by intern reporter Erika Miller: “National Preservation Month aims to make preservation a year-round priority”

Historic Preservation Public Policy

Aldermanic Candidates on Citywide Preservation Review

NextSTL sent questionnaires to aldermanic candidates in the St. Louis general election on Tuesday, April 7. Among the questions posed is one of interest to readers of this blog: Do you support city-wide historic preservation review?

Preservation review map from the Cultural Resources Office.

Since the adoption of a new historic preservation ordinance in 1999, the city’s Cultural Resources Office has not had the power to review and deny demolition permits across the city, but only in wards whose aldermen choose to participate. Currently 20 of the city’s 28 aldermen participate — a number boosted by Alderman Antonio French’s placement of the 21st Ward in review upon his election in 2009.

Here are the answers from candidates who chose to respond.

Jesse Irwin, Republican, 10th Ward: “I don’t know enough about this to make a worthwhile comment. I’m for keeping everything worth keeping and building green everywhere else.”

Craig Schmid, Democrat, 20th Ward:”Yes, but individual communities must have a say in this. I sought to include my ward in preservation review and to obtain historic district designations.”

Scott Ogilvie, Independent, 24th Ward: “I believe there is strong support for keeping the 24th Ward in the Preservation District. The historic quality of our neighborhoods is one of our greatest strengths as a City, and we need to ensure that when demolition takes place, a new project of equal or greater value is replacing what is being removed. The fact that much of North St. Louis is not in the Preservation District has led to some senseless demolition of historic buildings of a type that are unlikely to be replaced. I would like to see stronger protection of existing structures and fewer demolitions — but we need to make sure there is support for expanding the Preservation District into new Wards.”

If any other candidates want to answer the question, send a note to us at and we will post the response.

Historic Preservation

Landmarks Seeking Most Enhanced Award Nominees

Landmarks Association of St. Louis is looking for nominees for the 15th Annual Most Enhanced Awards.

Landmarks Association of St. Louis, Inc. initiated its Most Enhanced Awards in 1996 to recognize the city’s best examples of quality rehabilitation, adaptive reuse and outstanding new construction within historic contexts. To be considered for our 2011 citations, a project must be completed between January 1, 2010 and May 2011. ln determining award recipients, a jury will consider geographical balance, different building types exhibiting various styles, and dates of construction along with a range of ownership and financial collaborations.

Please return the nomination form by Friday, April 8th 2011 with no more than five photos. Photographs submitted from digital cameras must be high resolution and quality. All photographs become the property of Landmarks Association of St. Louis and may be used for publicity regarding the Enhanced Award program. If your project is chosen for further consideration, Landmarks may request additional photos/digital images at that time. For more information, please call 314.421.6474. Please print and return the following form with photos to: 911 Washington Ave., Suite 170 St. Louis, Missouri 63101. Check out some of our past award winners.

Details and the form are here.

DALATC Historic Preservation Missouri Public Policy

Changes to Missouri Historic Tax Credit Pass Senate Committee

by Michael R. Allen

Yesterday the Missouri Senate’s Ways and Means Committee passed by a 5-0 vote a committee substitute to Senate Bill 280 (now SCS SB 280), which would implement many of the Tax Credit Reform Commission’s recommendations. The new version of the bill takes the bill from 109 to 254 pages, and tacks the Compete Missouri legislation (SB 279) onto the bill.

Included among SCS SB 280’s numerous policy changes are several that would change the state historic tax credit for the worse. Here is a summary of the changes:

  • Caps all annual issuance of historic tax credits at $75 million;
  • Sunsets Missouri’s historic tax credit after August 28, 2015 unless the legislature re-authorizes the program;
  • Prohibits “stacking” of historic tax credits with Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Neighborhood Preservation Act tax credits;
  • Authorizes the Department of Economic Development to define an “applicant” for the credits;
  • Permits only qualified rehabilitation expenditures (QREs) incurred prior to issuance of the tax credits;
  • Establishes a limit of $50,000 in tax credit issuance for an owner-occupied property, and prohibits applications from owner-occupied properties purchased for $150,000 or more.
  • The most pernicious change is the new cap formula, which does not separate small and large projects as the 2009 cap did. The result will be a system that throws homeowners, small business people and neighborhood groups in the same mix as developers with stronger political connections. This new version of the Missouri historic rehabilitation tax credit would be highly politicized, and would allow the Department of Economic Development to pick winners and losers.

    Among other sections of SCS SB 280 is the bizarre recommendation that no applications be taken for the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage Tax Credit (DALATC) after August 28, 2011. Looks like the “tax credit for one man” — a charge that Department of Economic Development officials refuted at a public forum in St. Louis in September 2007 — will become exactly that. Why not simply end the program altogether? The DAATC has a sunset in August 2013. Under SCS SB 280, applications would end this year but the program would continue to exist for another two years. I cannot pretend to understand that logic.

    Readers, what do you think? Don’t tell me — tell your state senator and Governor Jay Nixon!

    Historic Preservation North St. Louis O'Fallon

    Scenes from the O’Fallon Neighborhood

    The 4400 Block of Holly Avenue.

    Yesterday, we conducted the first of several intensive photographic excursions needed for our survey of the O’Fallon neighborhood. By the time we are done with photography this month, we will have photographed an estimated 1,796 buildings in the area roughly bounded by Newstead/Pope avenue, O’Fallon Park, Warne Avenue, Fairground Park and Natural Bridge Avenue. Our work yesterday took us around the Plymouth Park subdivision just south of O’Fallon Park, where we walked Carter, Clarence, Holly, Red Bud, Harris, Fair and Rosalie avenues.

    Next we will write a narrative description of each building. Simultaneous to all of this work, we are examining the city’s building permit records on microfilm to learn the date of construction, cost, designer, builder and original owner of each building. This is a tall order, but needed to create a National Register of Historic Places historic district for the entire O’Fallon neighborhood.

    As we work, enjoy some of yesterday’s photographs.

    Corner two-part commercial building at Rosalie and Clarence avenues.
    The 4400 block of Harris Avenue.
    Historic Preservation Public Policy

    Congress Looking at Cuts to Preservation Funding

    From Preservation Action

    Avoiding a government shutdown, earlier this week Congress passed a two-week Continuing Resolution extending federal funding until March 18th. Addressing many lawmakers’ calls for spending cuts, the CR eliminates $4 billion in funding. Historic preservation programs were spared the “axe.”

    Unfortunately lawmakers must still decide what to do about spending for the balance of FY 2011 and there is still widespread disagreement between legislators who want to see substantial cuts (such as the $61 billion proposed in House-passed H.R. 1), and those who want few or no additional cuts for the balance of the year — instead focusing on FY 2012.

    As we have been reporting, the House CR (which the Senate immediately rejected), would have eliminated funding for the Save America’s Treasures (SAT) and Preserve America programs but spared funding for National Heritage Areas. It would also have made sweeping cuts to the Community Development Block Grant program, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. It would also have made cuts to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

    At the same time lawmakers are trying to find a compromise to wrap-up FY 2011, hearings began this week on the President’s proposed FY 2012 budget — which recommends increasing funding for State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices and eliminating funding for SAT and Preserve America and cutting funding for Heritage Areas in half. Yesterday, the House Committee on Natural Resources conducted a hearing on the President’s proposed budget with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. In his testimony, Salazar mentioned the proposed cuts:

    Examples of the tough decisions made in 2012 include terminating the $7.0 million Rural Fire Assistance program which is duplicative of other fire assistance grant programs managed by the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Agriculture. The National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America programs are eliminated in 2012 to focus NPS resources on the highest priority park requirements. The NPS Heritage Partnership Programs are reduced by half to encourage self-sufficiency among well-established National Heritage Areas while continuing support for newer areas.

    A central theme to his testimony was the America’s Great Outdoors initiative which he said “…can support a renewed and refreshed conservation vision by working in collaboration with [those] … who are working to protect the places that matter to them and by engaging people across the country in conservation and recreation.” The centerpiece of the AGO initiative is a call for full-funding ($900 million) for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Several other hearings will be taking place next week.

    Preservation Action opposes the proposed cuts in the President’s Budget as submitted, but supports the modest increases to State and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers. Next week, at Lobby Day, Preservation Action and its partners will be advocating for: $50 million for State Historic Preservation Officers; $11 million for Tribal Historic Preservation Officers; and $9 million for Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America. Recognizing the current budget climate, collectively this $70 million budget request is actually ten percent less than total program funding for FY 2008.

    Historic Preservation Mid-Century Modern

    Mid-Century Modern Preservation and the Generation Gap

    Last night Toby Weiss and I presented a talk on mid-century modern preservation and the new group Modern STL at the Alton Area Landmarks Association‘s monthly membership meeting. Here’s a clip of Toby discussing how the generation gap plays out in the rise of the movement to preserve modern architecture. – Michael R. Allen

    Historic Preservation

    New Film: “The Greenest Building”

    Poster for today's premiere of "The Greenest Building."

    Amid better weather than here, tonight Portland, Oregon hosts the premiere of The Greenest Building, a documentary that examines the problems inherent in the anticipated demolition of over one-third of the United States’ building stock over the next 20 years. Produced by Jane Turville, The Greenest Building examines the ecological reason for preservation.

    The argument is one of the most direct, compelling moral calls for preservation, and cuts through academic and aesthetic mystification of the very simple and very necessary ethic of preserving the built environment. “We need to realize that buildings are consumer products on a grand scale,” wrote Turville in a blog post in 2009. The consequences of consumption of buildings are far greater and more dangerous than any other, as this new film makes clear.

    Hopefully the film makes it way to St. Louis soon. Meanwhile, here are some clips.