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.

Mullanphy Emigrant Home North St. Louis Old North Uncategorized

Mullanphy Emigrant Home

by Michael R. Allen

The original appearance of the Mullanphy Emigrant Home. Line drawing by Pat Hays Baer, from the collection of Landmarks Association of St. Louis.

Those who pass by the Mullanphy Emigrant Home likely have no idea what this building used to be or how it appeared in its original state. Marred by a conversion that stole its distinctive pediment and cupola, the building is easier to neglect. This building is not abandoned, but it has fallen into disrepair and its current owner has not been able to keep up with the demands of its upkeep. An auto repair shop operates out of an addition to the building, but most of the original building is empty after years of abuse by previous owners.

The Mullanphy Emigrant Home was one of the charitable projects funded by the estate of Bryan Mullanphy, who left $200,000 — one-third of his estate — to establish the Mullanphy Emigrant Relief Fund for “poor emigrants passing through St. Louis.” Built in 1867, the Emigrant Home was a residential dormitory that provided temporary housing to immigrants. At that time and for decades to come, the near north side was becoming heavily populated by European immigrants. By the turn of the century, though, the tide turned and the European immigration slowed to be eclipsed by immigration into St. Louis by rural blacks from the American south. The Relief Fund abandoned the Emigrant Home in 1877, replacing the dormitory with a stipend for room and board to needy immigrants. The building went into use as Douglas School for the next decade.

The building is a noteworthy institutional application of the Italianate style designed by prominent local architects George I. Barnett and Albert Piquenard. The style was highly popular for schools and hospitals at the time of the building’s construction, but remaining examples are few. The State Hospital (formerly the County Insane Asylum), built in 1869 by plans by William Rumbold, is the one other example of an institutional Italianate style left in the city. The Mullanphy Emigrant Home deviated from conventions slightly by the curves of its central pediment, which exhibit a Spanish influence.

In 1900, H.R. Henderson — honored by the H.R.H. spelled in glazed bricks on the building — bought the old Emigrant Home for his Absorene Company. Henderson presided over some unfortunate alterations to the building, including the construction of an addition in the northeast corner that blocks the original facade.

James Clemens House North St. Louis Northside Regeneration Old North

Seeking Blairmont

by Michael R. Allen

Just saw this post (copied below) on Craigslist. It’s great to know that someone wants to save the James Clemens, Jr. House. It’s distressing to know that Blairmont Associates LC is causing yet another annoyance to a rehabber; Blairmont owns many properties on the Near North Side of St. Louis and is notoriously hard to reach. No one can find out anything about Blairmont except that a man named Harry Noble supposedly owns the company — but even that isn’t verified. A search through the Missouri Secretary of State’s corporation registry reveals that the “CT Corporation System” registered the name “Blairmont Associates LC” on behalf of an anonymous party or parties.

Many of Blairmont’s properties seem to be vacant lots in Old North St. Louis, St. Louis Place and other neighborhoods, although the company recently purchased a vacant St. Louis Public Schools property at 2333 Benton.

Other people report needing to make agreements with Blairmont to repair shared utilities or utilities that run through Blairmonnt properties, and having difficulty finding a phone number.

If you know anything about Blairmont, please post a comment here and maybe we’ll be able to help Lyra and others who are interested in contacting the company.

Contact info for Blairmont Associates LC?
Reply to:
Date: 2005-06-19, 1:58AM CDT

Do you know how I can get in touch with a company called “Blairmont Associates LC”? aka Blairmont Associates, Blairmont Associates Limited Company.

They buy and sell property in St. Louis, and they currently own (bought just this April) a house on Cass Avenue that I am *REALLY* interested in purchasing… the Clemens House. I have fallen in love with this abandoned house, and intend to restore it to it’s old glory. The house’s history is intriguing (Buddhists, nuns, insanity, and the title of “the Taj Mahal of St. Louis”), and the history of the family that built it in 1858 – James Clemens, Jr – is even better (James Clemens Jr was Mark Twain’s uncle, and helped found the city’s first electric company and first bank, among other things). The house itself is beautiful, but dying, and I want to help this city landmark return to it’s golden days.

Problem is, Blairmont Associates LC’s last address is on Olive Street, and they are no longer there. I have been unsuccessful in finding their current address, or their phone number; although I do know that they are under a corporation based in Clayton called “CT Corporation System.”

If anyone out there has any info on the address, phone numbers, owners/officers of this company, or anything I might have missed, the information would so very appreciated! Please contact me (Lyra) at

Demolition LRA North St. Louis Old North

Dummitt’s Confectionary

by Michael R. Allen

Dummitt’s Confectionary on April 22, 2005.

The decaying confectionery building at 1300-04 Hebert Street in Old North arrived in the 21st century, withstanding arson, demolition and disinvestment since its construction around 1870. The building came so close to a day when someone inspired by the new energy of the neighborhood would have come to purchase and restore it. Alas, the owner was the city government’s coldest shoulder, the Land Reutilization Authority, which wrecked the building in May 2005 after its roof had collapsed.

Forest Park Southeast Old North

Targeted revitalization

From the St. Louis Business Journal:

Regional housing alliance planning two new projects

“[Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance’s] commitment to community improvement through partnerships with local redevelopment agencies has led to an affiliation with Old North St. Louis Restoration Group and Forest Park Southeast Development Corp. The three have teamed up in an effort to revitalize the Old North St. Louis and Forest Park Southeast neighborhoods through a project called CONECT St. Louis, which stands for Coalition of Neighborhoods Effecting Change Together. The project plans include a combined 59 apartment units in 22 buildings, as well as more than 100 single-family for-sale homes throughout the two neighborhoods.”

Abandonment Demolition North St. Louis Old North

What the 14th Street Mall Could Be

by Michael R. Allen

On St. Louis Avenue in Old North St. Louis, a one-story storefront building just bit the dust. Located at 1315 St. Louis Avenue, the modest narrow building was once a productive part of neighborhood commerce, and was part of a connected group of three buildings. Such groups have allowed the neighborhood to evince strong historic character despite the fact that over half of its 20th century built environment is gone.

Across St. Louis Avenue and a half-block to the west is the two block “14th Street Mall,” a section of the commercial district turned into a pedestrian mall in 1977. The buildings on the mall are largely abandoned and some have been lost.  However, this is the most dense and intact group of commercial buildings left in Old North, or anywhere on the near north side between downtown and Salisbury Avenue.

A remnant of 1970’s era urban planning, the closure of 14th Street from St. Louis Avenue southward to Warren Avenue left a once-bustling shopping district in decline. The shop buildings gradually became vacant, and only a few businesses on the fringes remain open — notably the venerable Crown Candy Kitchen at 14th and St. Louis. With some renewed attention to the surrounding Old North St. Louis area in the last two years, though, the 14th Street Mall could enjoy some form of rejuvenation soon. Hopefully, rejuvenation will not consist of massive demolition; the two blocks suffered from much demolition when the mall was built to accommodate parking behind the stores on 14th Street.

The scale of this shopping district is as intimately urban as that of the Cherokee Street district. Buildings here are small and close together, and within walking district of beautiful and remarkably intact — by northside standards — 19th century row and town houses. It could be instrumental in developing a multi-racial, mixed-income district of housing and shopping north of downtown, which is priced out of range for most of Saint Louis and is woefully lacking in diversity in its emergent population.

This area could anchor a near-north belt of family-friendly housing, cooperatively managed rental units, urban gardens, live-work spaces (Neighborhood Gardens, anyone?), and neighborhood schools. Imagine: affordable, restored historic living space in the inner city in the 21st century!