Mullanphy Emigrant Home North St. Louis Old North

Mullanphy Emigrant Home Effort Needs Your Donations

What have you done to help the effort to preserve the Mullanphy Emigrant Home? The endangered near north side landmark — follow the link to read a basic history — suffered a wall collapse in April that prompted the successful effort of the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group to acquire the building.

Now, the Restoration Group is seeking funds for an estimated $100,000 stabilization project. With every day of inclement weather, than goal becomes more urgent.

Please send a tax-deductible contribution of any size ($5 isn’t too small to help):

Old North St. Louis Restoration Group
2800 N. 14th Street
St. Louis, MO 63107

If you have questions, call the Restoration Group at 314-241-5031 or e-mail I can assure you that the Restoration Group is serious about stabilization and your money literally will go straight into bricks and mortar.

The eventual restoration of the Mullanphy Emigrant Home will do more than save one building. This project has the potential to initiate major investment in the southern end of Old North St. Louis and aid in development that will link our renewing downtown to Old North St. Louis.

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New Life for the Mullanphy Emigrant Home

by Michael R. Allen

Given its institutional form and floor plan, and the dire need to retain and restore its special architectural character, the Mullanphy Emigrant Home seems best suited to an institutional or cultural use rather than any of the most likely prospects for reuse.

The building would make an excellent museum or exhibit center, library, school or hostel. I think that adapting it for use as apartments, condominiums or offices might involve architectural compromises and inefficient floor plans. Perhaps now is the time for near north side leaders and city officials to figure out what the building should become, and how the new use could be endowed.

Due to shrinking funding under the Bush and Blunt administrations, this is a bad moment to launch a new museum or cultural center. Yet the Mullanphy Emigrant Home would make an excellent museum of the city’s ethnic heritage, an outstanding small art museum, a cool alternative school, a great architectural center emphasizing vernacular forms and styles, or a youth hostel in conjunction with more public uses. Rarely does the city have the chance to restore such an old and important civic building. This is a momentous opportunity for the city, and time for creative thought.

Mullanphy Emigrant Home North St. Louis Old North

ONSL Restoration Group Now Owns the Mullanphy Emigrant Home

The Old North St. Louis Restoration Group has closed on its purchase of the Mullanphy Emigrant Home. Now, the hard work begins.

Here is a letter from the Restoration Group’s Executive Director, Sean Thomas:

Dear Friend of Old North St. Louis:

Today the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group has taken a huge leap of faith. As of this morning, we are the proud – and very nervous – owners of the Mullanphy Emigrant Home building at 1609 N. 14th Street, just a few blocks north of Downtown St. Louis. Although we’re a community-based not-for-profit organization with an extremely tight budget, our Board decided to take this action because nobody else seemed willing or able to save the buiding from demolition or collapse. But we did so with the support and encouragement of many who recognize the building’s historic and architectural significance. Now we’re at a point where we need more than words of encouragement – we need your financial support to preserve the building.

On April 2 of this year, severe wind gusts hit the Italianate brick structure that was built in 1867 to house the Mullanphy Emigrant Home. These winds knocked out much of the south wall and led to an order from the City of St. Louis Building Division to demolish the building. Because of determined efforts by Old North St. Louis
Restoration Group, aided by many friends inside and outside of city government and a structural engineer’s report indicating that the building was not in imminent danger of collapse, the City rescinded the demolition order. Thankfully, the building has survived over the past seven months without additional damage. If the building is going to survive through the winter, though, we will need to take immediate measures to shore up the south end of the building and re-build the wall. Because the total bill for acquisition, insurance, and stabilization work will equal at least $150,000, more than half of the amount we have to raise every year for our basic organizational operations, we need financial support well beyond our usual sources of revenue. To help us reach this goal, we’re asking all who care about Old North St. Louis to make a contribution of whatever amount they can afford.

The Old North St. Louis Restoration Group is dedicated to re-building the neighborhood in a way that incorporates the community’s rich history and respects the beauty and architectural significance of the built environment – and the skill and craftsmanship of past generations that created it. We invite you to help us with a contribution to the preservation of the Mullanphy Emigrant Home. Please send a tax-deductible contribution to us as soon as you can, using the enclosed form. And if you know of anyone else who cares about preserving our city’s unique architectural heritage, please encourage them to contribute as well.

Thank you!

Sean Thomas
Executive Director

(By the way, Preservation covered the effort to restore the Mullanphy in a recent article.)

Mullanphy Emigrant Home North St. Louis Old North

Good News for the Mullanphy Emigrant Home; Hard Work Ahead

by Michael R. Allen

There is great news about the Mullanphy Emigrant Home: the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group has the damaged landmark under contract.

However, the effort to truly preserve the building only now begins. The What’s New in Old North blog maintained by the Restoration Group’s Executive Director Sean Thomas reports that the organization needs to raise between $100,000 and 150,000 to be able to stabilize the building before being able to market it to developers. The blog entry details how people can help by making donations to the stabilization effort.

Benton Park Mullanphy Emigrant Home North St. Louis Old North Severe Weather South St. Louis Switzer Building

Storm Update

by Michael R. Allen

Wednesday night was rough on us. The front quarter of the flat roof membrane on the three-story section of our house blew off, pulling up the recovery layer and uncovering the decking. Water poured in, ruining drywall on the third floor and seeping down into the second floor. Meanwhile, my truck was hit by a street tree that fell and the windshield was damaged.

When I returned home, I was able to get a tarp from a neighbor and make a hasty covering although continued lightning cut short my efforts. Our power stayed on long after most neighbors lost theirs, but went out before midnight. It remains off, although just last night I saw lights back on inside of Crown Candy Kitchen, where perishables had been evacuated by distributors.

Yesterday, I stayed home and obtained more tarps from neighbors and set to making a sturdier repair. An ex-neighbor who has been helping friends rehab a building that he sold to them was around and helped me with the work. I used various scrap 2×4’s, 1×4’s and other pieces to nail down the tarps around the edges. I further anchored the tarps with bricks.

At the moment, severe weather has returned and I am at work hoping that my work holds up today. No matter what, we will return to sleep inside of our brick oven tonight to keep thieves away.

Other news from the storm:

Winds took down part of the east wall of the Switzer’s Building on Laclede’s Landing.

Downtown East St. Louis took an incredible hit, with several small historic commercial buildings in states of partial collapse or with severely compromised roofs. The Stockyards area was hard hit, with the old entrance sign bent and the Robertson’s feed store suffering a small collapse. Somehow, the Armour packing Plant and the Murphy Building escaped further damage.

A corner storefront building at Sidney and Lemp in south St. Louis has part of its eastern wall collapse.

Two houses in a lovely Greek Revival row on Howard Street between 13th and 14th streets lost parts of their second-story walls. A commercial building dating to te 1870s in the 1300 block of Benton Street — the old Someone Cares Mission — collapsed; it was already fire-damaged. The nearby Mullanphy Emigrant Home thankfully did not incur further damage.

While officials promised to help evacuate people, seniors down the street at the Jackson place senior center were still sitting around outside while the building lacked power. Ambulances came to the center all day long.

Once again, I was reminded that urban areas have grossly inadequate strategies for coping with summer heat. Winter weather can impair driving, so a lot of emergency planning covers winter storms. Summer heat waves always catch cities off guard, even though they are far deadlier than winter weather.  I can’t believe that over 400,000 people in the region lack power during 100-degree heat.

Historic Preservation Hyde Park Mullanphy Emigrant Home North St. Louis Old North

Emigrant Home, Turnverein on Missouri Preservation’s Most Endangered List

by Michael R. Allen

Missouri Preservation, formerly the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation, announced its 2006 Most Endangered Historic Places list at a press conference in Fulton last Saturday.

Among the thirteen places are the storm-damaged Nord St. Louis Turnverein and the Mullanphy Emigrant Home on the near north side of St. Louis. Another St. Louis-area building made the list: the Mark Sappington House in Crestwood, built in 1840 and threatened with demolition for a strip mall.

The list may draw greater attention statewide to the plight of these buildings. Across the state, St. Louis has a strong reputation as a leader in historic rehabilitation efforts, so people may take our forward movement for granted. The truth is that the city’s north side continues to lose buildings at an alarming rate with no end in sight. Hopefully the inclusion of the near north side buildings will show people that great architecture requires political and economic maintenance, even (especially?) in a city on the rebound from decline.

Thanks go to Karen Bode Baxter for nominating the Turnverein and the Emigrant Home at the last minute.

Hyde Park Media Mullanphy Emigrant Home North St. Louis Old North Severe Weather

Media Catching Up on Mullanphy and Turnverein Stories

by Michael R. Allen

Yesterday, Tom Weber at KWMU covered the great effort the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group is putting into finding a new owner for the Mullanphy Emigrant Home.

KTVI Fox 2 News will air a story on DHP Investments on its Monday 9:00 p.m. news program, with the Nord St. Louis Turnverein featured.

Historic Preservation Mullanphy Emigrant Home North St. Louis Old North

Lone Star

by Michael R. Allen

A wall tie with no wall to anchor on the Mullanphy Emigrant Home. May the weather be mild for the rest of the week.

Historic Preservation Hyde Park Mullanphy Emigrant Home Old North

Demolition Held Off on Mullanphy, Turnverein buildings

by Michael R. Allen

Jim Shrewsbury, President of the Board of Aldermen, and Barb Geisman, Deputy Mayor for Development want to help preserve the Mullanphy Emigrant Home and the Nord St. Louis Turnverein. Geisman should be commended for stepping in to hold off on the emergency demolition that the Building Division seeks.

The cost of demolishing the Mullanphy Emigrant Home and the cost of rebuilding the wall seem to be the same, and slightly less that the $100,000 that owner Paul Hopkins seeks for a sales price. The results of either approach could not be more different: the loss of a historic building that enhances the near north side and also is a valuable economic asset, or demolition for a relatively worthless vacant lot.

Either way, the city fronts the money for work costing less than the money the owner seeks. How does demolition make sense?

If the owner’s insurance will pick up the demolition cost, it could pick up the cost of rebuilding the wall and enhancing the value of a historic building. However, without a development plan the building may face similar hurdles in the future. What it needs most of all is a change in ownership. Hopkins will have to take a loss to keep the building standing.

As for the Turnverein, there is less certainty on its future but no immediate danger of further collapse, since all that fell were walls already destabilized by a roof collapse. Some bracing on the remaining ports on those walls and removal of the building material inside would buy some time — but, again, we must not stop working to find a real future.

Time is of the essence for a historic assets that are worth something to more people than just the owners. I am glad that some city officials understand what needs to be done.

Historic Preservation Hyde Park Mullanphy Emigrant Home North St. Louis Old North

Update on Turnverein and Mullanphy Buildings

by Michael R. Allen

The Building Division has issued emergency orders of condemnation for the Nord St. Louis Turnverein and the Mullanphy Emigrant Home. These orders would bring about demolition. The Building Division is waiting a few days before proceeding to see if staff at the city’s Cultural Resources Office or other interested parties can put together plans to stabilize both buildings. These plans inevitably involve changes in ownership, and normally cannot be effected too fast.  If you can help, call the Cultural Resources Office at 314-622-3400.

The owner of the Mullanphy Emigrant Home, Paul Hopkins, does not want the building to be demolished. He is interested in any reasonable offer for his building. To arrange to make an offer, please call Sean Thomas at the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group at 314-241-5031.