East St. Louis, Illinois Historic Preservation Theft

Murphy Building Secured

by Michael R. Allen

Someone has finally re-boarded the front entrance to the lovely and decaying Murphy Building in downtown East St. Louis. On March 6, we reported that thieves had removed the boards and stolen three terra cotta keystones.

Historic Preservation

There IS Something We Can Do About It

History is being flooded, too: Slave records, jazz archives, Jefferson Davis’ mansion: Hurricane Katrina has put them all in peril. by Rebecca Traister (Salon, September 10)

Please, after reading this article, make an effort to visit some place like the Scott Joplin House in St. Louis, the Museum of Labor and Industry in Belleville, Illinois or somesuch. Better yet, ask these places if they need a hand with things. Preservation efforts aren’t just threatened by floodwaters — apathy is still the biggest destroyer of our past.

Abandonment Historic Preservation North St. Louis Old North

Good News in Old North

by Michael R. Allen

Some great news: The Old North St. Louis Restoration Group has now closed on both of its loans for its North Market Place development, which includes construction of 41 new homes and rehabilitation of several old buildings. Credit goes to the Restoration Group for rehabbing several buildings that had been approved for demolition and were in advanced states of deterioration.

Look for lots of activity on Benton, North Market and Monroe Streets between Hadley and North Florissant this fall and spring. Rebuilding neighborhood density is always interesting to watch, but rarely heartening. This project is encouraging. While the new homes use some materials that I do not find appropriate, their design, scale and — most notable — lot placement (close to the sidewalk, close to neighboring buildings) are compatible with the neighborhood.

Century Building Downtown Historic Preservation Media Mid-Century Modern

“Form Over Function” Transcript Available

CBS New Sunday Morning has posted a transcript of this morning’s program, Form Over Function, which featured preservation battles over Edward Durrell Stone’s 2 Columbus Circle building in New York, historic homes in the Chicago suburb of Kenilworth and the Century Building in St. Louis.

Historic Preservation Theft

The Stained Glass Fence

by Michael R. Allen

On one of those rare instances where we watch network television news, we caught a report on a KTVI Channel 2 news program about the South Patrol’s efforts to return stolen stained glass windows to south city building owners. Buried at the end of the reports was this tidbit:

The thief sold all of the windows to a single local antiques dealer who cut a deal with police to escape prosecution.

There’s the real story. The police can catch every “stained glass bandit” and these dealers remain, ready to sell stolen goods and fueling the market in thievery by creating demand.

Who was this dealer? KTVI didn’t release the name.

Century Building Demolition Downtown Historic Preservation

Architectural Record Coverage of the Century Building Demolition

The Architectural Record covers the controversy:

“Critics Say National Trust Helped Doom Renowned St. Louis Building”

Historic Preservation People Urbanism

ReVitalize St. Louis

New Grassroots Organization
Committed to St. Louis’ Revitalization
Announces Formation

As you may or may not know, The Rehabbers Club will be celebrating its 5th Anniversary in October of this year. From its humble beginnings as a small monthly support group, our membership now numbers nearly 1400! It is wonderful that so many people are interested and involved in caring for St. Louis’ building heritage.

As the Rehabbers Club expanded in membership, broadened its base, and took on additional projects like the semi annual “Works in Progress” tour and the rehabbers classes, its organizational needs have changed. Handling money, building organizational capacity to manage projects, accepting donations, and sustaining the group require a level of organization above the loose affiliation of the e-mail list we all know and love.

A group of volunteers has been working diligently to lay the ground work for this new organization. So today, with much pride, we announce ReVitalize St. Louis!

We are a diverse coalition of citizens committed to revitalization in the city of St. Louis through historic preservation and sensitive, planned development. We address social, political and economic issues as they impact each of St. Louis’ neighborhoods.

Through partnerships, education, outreach, and support, we hope to create positive change in the urban St. Louis community with an eye towards preserving and rejuvenating the city’s physical landscape and inspiring progressive civic action.

Claralyn Bollinger (Treasurer), Marti Frumhoff (President), Tim Klaas, La’Shonda Turner-Brown (Vice President), Gayle Van Dyke, Steven Wilke-Shapiro (Secretary), and Taron Young.

St. Louis Rehabbers Club: This is a Yahoo! Groups email listserve that boasts over 1300 members – from an original group of 23 just 5 short years ago! This group shares everything from seasoned “how-to” content and where to live, to which local hardware store carries a hard-to-find item and who to contact at city hall for permits as well as a slew of other rehab-related subjects. The group meets once a month in a different city neighborhood with a determined goal of visiting all 79 designated areas over time.

Rehabbers Classes: Created out of a request for in-depth subject coverage from Rehabbers Club members, the classes, begun in 2003, have been a wonderful addition to the rehabbing community. The 14-week once-a-week classes have highlighted diverse subjects like historic tax credits, environmentally-responsible rehabbing, and both mixed-use and urban redevelopment issues, just to name a few.

The Big BIG Tour: This huge city-wide house tour with on-site homebuyer’s fair is enjoying its sixth successful year. It is totally free to the public and is a very popular venue with sponsors and exhibitors as well as the thousands of attendees who have passed through its doors over the years.

The Rehabbers Club won’t change. Those who want to continue to share renovation knowledge and resources online and at the monthly Rehabbers Club meetings probably won’t notice a difference.

However, there will be many opportunities for anyone who is interested to become more involved in reshaping the City. Please consider volunteering for one of the working committees or helping out at one of our many events.

Our working committees are Built Environment, Fundraising, Marketing, and Programming. We hope you will join us in creating the foundations for these committees as they take shape.

Our small and humble website is in the works and if you’re interested in becoming a member, we have membership opportunities available, all of which we’ll be telling you about very soon.

We look forward to your involvement and input as we all move forward together in continuing this great renaissance in the city of St. Louis!


Marti Frumhoff

ReVitalize St. Louis
P.O. Box 63062
St. Louis, MO 63163

Architecture Historic Preservation Illinois

More Demolition at Manteno State Hospital

According to The Manteno Project, wreckers demolished the Todd Cottages at the Manteno State Hospital last month. The Manteno State Hospital is a former mental hospital located in Manteno, Illinois, about one hours south of Chicago, Illinois. The Georgian-Revival-style hospital was constructed in 1928 and is a unique example of the cottage-style mental hospital popular after the more-famous Kirkbride style fell from favor. The cottage-style plan placed patients in small cottages — Manteno had 38 — located away from larger administrative and medical buildings. The State of Illinois favored this construction plan after the state prototype, the Bartonville State Hospital in Peoria, received much renown.

The northern half of the Manteno complex was converted into an Illinois State Veterans’ Home years ago, while the southern half was left empty longer. This part has been undergoing a steady transformation in the last three years, with many of its old buildings being converted to business use and new homes constructed around the complex. Sadly, some its abandoned buildings have been demolished recently. In June, Manteno lost a major structure, the Mechanical Shop.

Fortunately, we visited Manteno State Hospital in May and photographed the Mechanical Shop and both the interior and exterior of Todd Cottage. Still, the demolitions leave major holes in this impressive campus.