JeffVanderLou North St. Louis Northside Regeneration

Blairmont: Other JeffVanderLou Buildings

Part of the Photographic Survey of Blairmont Buildings.

Building is at right. Date of photograph: December 13, 2006.

LOCATION: 3510 Cozens Avenue; JeffVanderLou
CURRENT OWNER: Dodier Investors LLC

Date of Photograph: January 21, 2007.

LOCATION: 1450 N. Grand Avenue; JeffVanderLou

Building is the center one of these three row houses. Date of photograph: January 21, 2007.

LOCATION: 3226 Magazine Street

Columbus Square JeffVanderLou North St. Louis Northside Regeneration Old North St. Louis Place

Photographic Survey of Blairmont Buildings

by Michael R. Allen and Claire Nowak-Boyd

2933 Montgomery Street, owned by Sheridan Place LC.

Wonder what exactly we keep talking about when we bemoan the treatment of historic north side buildings by the “Blairmont” companies?

Now you can see for yourself by looking at our photographic survey of their buildings. This project is a work in progress, and will be greatly expanded, but already the survey includes recent photographs of over 50 of their buildings in Old North St. Louis, Columbus Square, JeffVanderLou and St. Louis Place.

Columbus Square

1617 N. 10th Street


2400-2500 Block of Coleman Street

2900 Block of Montgomery Street

Other JeffVanderLouBuildings

2629 St. Louis Avenue

2800 Block of St. Louis Avenue

Old North St. Louis

The Old North Buildings

St. Louis Place

1900 Block of Wright Street

Some of the St. Louis Place Buildings

St. Louis Avenue Buildings in St. Louis Place

Fire JeffVanderLou North St. Louis Northside Regeneration

Former Syphilis Center Burns

by Michael R. Allen

The former Better Donut Drive-In at the southeast corner of Grand and Cass burned last night. This two-story early twentieth century commercial building has been vacant for several years, but is infamous as a major contact point in the city’s syphillis epidemic during the early 1990s (see Malcolm Gay’s insightful article published in the Riverfront Times last June).

Incidentally, the owner of the building is VHS Partners LLC.

JeffVanderLou North St. Louis Northside Regeneration Old North St. Louis Place

Strange Purchases on the Near Northside — Is There a Plan?

by Michael R. Allen

On October 13, the city recorded the quit-claim transfer of a sliver of property on Cass Avenue just east of the Greyhound station from Iron Horse Resources of O’Fallon, Illinois to Noble Development Company LLC. This parcel is the tunnel approach section of the right-of-way of the former Illinois Terminal Railroad’s electric interurban railroad.

The interurban ceased its runs in the 1950s, and this right-of-way has been vacant ever since. Currently, the section of the interurban line that ran on an elevated trestle to the McKinley Bridge is being converted into a trail. The “tunnel” section under Tucker Boulevard will be filled in by the city so that improvements can be made to Tucker.

Noble Development Company LLC is, of course, part of the “Blairmont” family of real estate companies. Supposedly a great mystery to city officials, these companies have a great knack for purchasing property that is strategic to various public works initiatives or urban planning projects. I find it very difficult to fathom that city leaders would let a parcel like the old Terminal Railroad right-of-way section slip through their fingers when it is needed for two large projects that are underway.

Is it possible that the transfer of the land to Noble Development Company was a result sought by someone in city government and that the mysterious company is holding the parcel and others in accord with a master plan for the near northside? I’m not sure, but it seems possible. Until city leaders address the strange property acquisition pattern of these companies, people are going to be led to such conclusions.

Hopefully, rehabbers and business owners on the near north side will stand their ground and avoid panic as rumors float. What a shame that as Old North St. Louis gains development traction the Blairmont scheme emerges without comment from the mayor or others who could instill confidence.

JeffVanderLou North St. Louis Northside Regeneration Old North St. Louis Place

MLK 3000: Not the Latest MC on the Scene

by Michael R. Allen

On September 19 and 20, the city recorded sales of properties owned by Ecology of Absence favorites N & G Ventures and Path Enterprises Company to MLK 3000 LLC, a corporation registered through the CT Corporation System office in Clayton and whose manager is apparently Harvey Noble, according to deeds of trust filed with the Recorder of Deeds’ office. Noble is a partner in Eagle Realty Company with Steven Goldman, registered agent for N & G Ventures.

The Missouri Secretary of State’s website reports that MLK 3000 LLC was chartered on March 31, 2006.

N & G sold the parcels at 2929, 2931 and 2633 Hebert; 2331 and 2543 Maiden Lane; 2528 St. Louis; 2721 Dodier; 2506 University; and 3114 and 3116 Glasgow. Path sold the parcels at 1435 through 1449 Benton Street in Old North St. Louis (most of the former Al’s Auto Sales lot). According to deeds of trust, the total purchase price for these properties is over $890,000.

Northsiders everywhere should thank MLK 3000 LLC for the new comps on the market.

Fire JeffVanderLou North St. Louis

Houses at 3654-60 Cook Avenue

by Michael R. Allen

The fire marshal’s car sits in front of the houses on Cook Avenue after the fire on August 28.

On the night of August 28, 2006, a fire struck the two turreted houses at the southeast corner of Cook and Spring avenues. These two houses are splendid examples of how the Romanesque Revival was interpreted by local architects and made part of the city’s turn-of-the-century architectural vernacular. They also illustrate the St. Louis tendency to group houses that re so similar to each other that at first glance they seem like copies, while in fact the details and ornament are completely different even as materials, style and proportion are synchronized. According architect Paul Hohmann: “The buildings are actually two pairs of townhomes, for a total of four units. The two portions are connected only at the center, with the projecting fronts separated to appear like two large mansions. … Unfortunately the way the two halves were joined at the middle at the third floor would have provided an easy conduit for a fire to spread from either side.”

Demolition JeffVanderLou North St. Louis

Lost: Carpenters’ Building

The author took all of the photographs used here on June 19, 2006.

by Michael R. Allen

This summer, St. Louis lost a building designed by noted architect Preston J. Bradshaw, and no one turned out to mourn its passing. In June, wreckers began dismantling his Carpenters Building (1930) at the southwest corner of North Grand Boulevard and Cozens Avenue. By this point in time, few observers could recall the glory days of this building as the home of the Carpenters’ District Council, now located in well-known quarters on Hampton Avenue. Few historians who may have noted the building’s pedigree passed by the building in recent years, and it largely went unnoticed. (No biographical sketches of Bradshaw note the Carpenters Building.) The building’s new owners didn’t care to study its history; they wrecked the building to build another section of the ungainly strip mall that is MLK Plaza.

Yet, once upon a time when Grand Avenue was a bustling thoroughfare, trade unionism was strong and architects of Bradshaw’s ability took commissions of all sizes, the Carpenters’ Building came to stand here. The union council built the building in 1930 for the cost of $50,000, which was substantial then. The design by Bradshaw is typical of the idiosyncratic Renaissance Revival style he employed frequently in the 1920s and early 1930s for hotel, apartment and office buildings. There is an abundance of buff terra cotta ornament at the base and crown of the building, while the shaft is an unadorned plane of brick. Here, the building is two stories, so the effect of this ornament program is quite different than on taller buildings that Bradshaw designed. Rather than accentuating height, here the design accentuated the width of the primary elevations, giving the building a stately presence worthy of one of the city’s most prominent thoroughfares. The abundance of terra cotta, manufactured by the Winkle Company of St. Louis, makes the short building project a message of abundance and tradition that suited the unions of the day. As with many of Bradshaw’s designs of that period, here he masterfully balances the Renaissance Revival idiom with a modern emphasis on form.

Bradshaw (1880-1949) designed many famous local buildings, including the Chase Hotel, Paul Brown Building, Coronado Hotel and, late in his career, the modernist Ford Apartments. He came to St. Louis in 1907 after having studied architecture at Columbia University and having briefly worked for McKim, Mead and White. He became known for his prowess at designing hotel and apartment buildings, and was among the best-known St. Louis architects of the first half of the twentieth century. His works are expressions of the optimism of the growing city as well as explorations of the possibility of modern architectural forms. Many of Bradshaw’s are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and have been restored in recent years.

The Carpenters Building is not among those that will be so cherished.

Demolition JeffVanderLou Martin Luther King Drive North St. Louis South St. Louis Southampton Theaters

Coming Down This Week

by Michael R. Allen

Urban Review St. Louis reports that the Doering Mansion is almost gone. Demolition began last week.

Also nearly gone this week is the art deco Regal Theater on Martin Luther King Boulevard. I have been following the saga there and hope to post more information and photographs on our website soon. In the meantime, the other endangered art deco movie house in town, the