Cherokee Street Historic Preservation Old North Shaw

Cities Change, But Big Projects Remain the Same

by Michael R. Allen

The dean of New York history, Kenneth T. Jackson, recently published a salvo in the New York Times intended to advance the argument that New York’s neighborhood preservation movement was stifling the city’s chance to build new high rises. In his article “Gotham’s Towering Ambitions” Jackson argued that without new office buildings, New York could fall behind other global cities.

This week, Roberta Brandes Gratz published a very sensible, lyrical response to Jackson in The Huffington Post (“Urban Change to Believe In”. Gratz challenged Jackson’s view, arguing that New York has experienced a transformative change without giant new buildings –and that change is more impactful and long-lasting. In fact, Gratz argues that those voices Jackson called obstructionist actually are at the forefront of celebrating urban change.

“[I]t is time to celebrate the new kind of change that manages growth by balancing old and new and recognizes that the new derives its value from existing in the midst of the old,” writes Gratz, in an essay that captures what actually covers a larger context than just Manhattan. The larger context is the future of the American legacy city, and the past few decades of incremental urban change that has stabilized cities once in free fall.

Accrued urban change on Cherokee Street.

While St. Louis is several shades removed from the cosmopolitan metropolis of New York, the lilt of development debate has a few parallels. While New York is a high-demand market, St. Louis city remains fairly low-demand. In fact, we may still be losing residents. Yet our mythology of growth keeps city officials chasing big projects – not skyscrapers, but strip malls, warehouses, entertainment “districts,” and occasionally sports facilities. None of these projects seems to be very good at embracing the existing city fabric, and we are often told than none can afford to be – X number of jobs is more important than anything else.

The rallying cry in St. Louis is not a Jacksonian ode to the skyscraper jungle we could become, but rather the hegemonic official searches for “jobs” and “retail.” As Jackson criticized preservationists, St. Louis developers and officials are prone to blame a similar crowd — preservationists, urban design activists, boulevardiers — for the supposed push-back on projects like Northside Regeneration and City+Arch+River. In both cities, the supposed rabble of agenda-pushing activists actually looks more like average citizens demanding accountability and protection of their neighborhood quality of life. At the recent TIF Commission hearing on Northside Regeneration, none of the speakers against the project — panned as “barking dogs” by the developer — was a preservation or urban design activist.

The powers that want-to-be succeeded in attaining green lights for Ballpark Village, Northside Regeneration and City+Arch+River. If anything, the rallying against elements of these projects ultimately had little impact. Certainly, critical voices have been accused of tampering with all three of these projects, yet in the end the slow pace is only the fault of the projects’ own designers — and the forces of the real estate market. Perhaps people just don’t want these projects in the same way they want rehabbed houses on tree-lined streets, or restaurants in imaginatively adapted spaces, or small-scale public spaces like Citygarden that are based on delightful experience. Why do officials keep chasing the urbanist magic bullets in the name of economic growth, when these projects aren’t truly growing the city?

Gratz points out that New York’s meteoric spreading gentrification, which transformed a late mid-century SoHo loft trickle into a multi-borough flood, balanced and slow development has made the city more liveable and the values of buildings higher. The same dynamic, ever-slower, operates in St. Louis. The city’s evident comeback has little relation to mega-projects. Neighborhood revitalization has had few subsidies and little in the way of political favors. That’s why it makes so much economic sense — it is demand-driven and has an output greater than its cost.

Sudden urban change’s worst case scenario in St. Louis looks like Ballpark Village.

While city leaders decimated row houses in Mill Creek Valley for short-lived low-density urban “renewal” in the 1950s and 1960s, rehabbers set into motion long-term, sustainable reclamation of Soulard, Lafayette Square and the Central West End. Decades later, that momentum is evident in the spread of stabilized fabric, and in the amount of infill construction taking aim at the empty spaces in the early rehab neighborhoods. Earlier rehabber protections in the form of historic district ordinances are accommodating of change, too. I live in Shaw, where we have a local historic district with fairly strict standards. Two blocks away, in a few months some very different contemporary housing will rise as DeTonty Commons — and the Preservation Board approved the project after some careful review against our local historic district standards.

Today, from Cherokee Street to Old North to Fountain Park to Bevo, people are still doing the same thing: rehabbing houses, opening small businesses, and rebuilding the density of activity the neighborhoods’ architectural frameworks still can support. The litany of hot-shot big-ticket projects, from St. Louis Centre to Chouteau’s Lake, have either failed to survive despite high subsidy or have never materialized at all. The supposed game-changing projects of today languish, and force their success stories through mediocre over-priced “development” that likely removes more tax dollars than it ever returns.

Drastic change, represented by Northside Regeneration’s computer model. Where are the people?

The city’s only new high-rise built during the market boom, downtown’s Roberts Tower, was completed only to sit empty before going to foreclosure. Meanwhile, the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market grows and thrives amid the influx of families to the area around Tower Grove Park in south city. The McRee Town neighborhood, just twelve years ago considered one of the city’s most dangerous parts, now boasts a patisserie across the street from a wine bar in a converted gas station. Picnic tables and benches in O’Fallon Park are hard to come by following major park improvements in the last years, and that is not even when the annual summer concerts are going. All over the city, incremental change has built community, while high-cost development has either floundered or simply supported changes already underway.

Citizens who are skeptical of big fixes for their cities, in St. Louis or New York, aren’t naysayers. They are stewards of the gradual transformation of legacy cities that is ground-level, economic and communitarian. They embrace change. These are people who say yes to continuing to develop cities in ways that are responsive to their users, so that the profits of development are socially distributed rather than individually concentrated. Development is not inherently a threat to smart urban growth, but when it ignores actual economic demand and social needs, it can be everyone’s worst enemy.

New Yorkers may see tall towers as a threat. In St. Louis, the biggest threat to sustainable change is more likely embodied in the Ballpark Village parking lot. If the vernacular red brick building has become the symbol of what St. Louis adores, it’s not so much because of nostalgia or fanaticism — it’s because that building represents a bona fide economic and visual asset built at a human scale (not an ethereal promise based on a profit motive or an inflated sense of civic identity). The alternative often is too ugly to love. As Gratz writes, “Change worth celebrating values the distinguished and ever functional old and shuns the new for the sake of what’s new, too often banal and surely big.”

Slow change, as represented by the intersection of Euclid and Maryland in the Central West End. Streets for people, and even new buildings.

Architect and friend Ann Wimsatt often talks about the “four corners” urbanism that St. Louisans like, embodied best perhaps by the intersection of Euclid and Maryland avenues. There, the intersection is held by four historic buildings, none higher than four stories and three of which are brick. All have wide ground-level storefronts, which are full of activity into the night. Here, the buildings are supporting human activity — buying, selling, shopping, dining, conversing — in approachable forms. Anything new that could be as functional, attractive, storied and beloved as that intersection would be a hit in St. Louis. Perhaps city officials hear the voices at public meetings as growls, but I hear them as odes to the urbanism that works — and that we already have.

Mid-Century Modern National Register PRO Projects Shaw

Thurman Station: Where It All Began For Me

by Dave Brownell

The National Park Service placed “Thurman Station,” the former Standard Oil station at Thurman and Cleveland avenues in Shaw, in the National Register of Historic Places on July 23. Preservation Research Office prepared the building’s nomination for new owners who are converting the building into the home of The Social Affair, a catering business, small market and cooking class facility. Literally as soon as listing was official, crews were at work converting this long-vacant neighborhood into a active part of Shaw’s economic life. We received this article while awaiting listing.


When friends visiting from St. Louis brought this internet article to my attention, my thoughts quickly turned into a little reminiscing:

This relic of a Standard Oil station turns out to be the very place, fifty-two years ago, where I grew from being a Car Fan into a Car Guy. From my sixteenth birthday until I qualified for a commercial driver’s license at eighteen, this is the place where the boy became a man. And reading and reflecting on the renewal plans in 2013 is when the man becomes a boy once again.

This corner gas station is where my father (and much of the surrounding Shaw neighbors) would drive a car for a weekly “two Dollars, Regular” experience in buying gasoline. In the late fifties, bars and taverns outnumbered gas stations three to one, so there wasn’t a lot of competition nearby. John Wolf, a very young looking Korean War veteran, was the station’s proprietor. John noticed that Pop’s cars were almost always very clean. He asked how my father managed it and was told “the Kid does it, mostly without asking.” John mentioned that he could use such a talent around the station, especially on Friday afternoons and Saturdays, when there were too many customers who wanted their cars washed and serviced in time for the weekend. Pop told me to go down and make official what I had been doing for our neighbors for several years, saying that I might even dare to ask for a dollar an hour, a big jump from the seventy-five cents I got for washing and sweep out a neighbor’s car. A dozen or so of these folks had trusted me with their cars and keys, beginning about age fourteen, to keep their cars clean, so here was my chance to enter into the big time as a professional.

John Wolf hired me that summer afternoon and my education began the very next morning. He showed me how to quickly and efficiently wash a customer’s car, starting with a hose at the roof, working down, with the wheels done last with a separate sponge. Five minutes per car was his goal and maybe an hour for “Simonizing” if the sun was not too hot and direct. I clearly remember that first “professional” car wash was a new 1960 Chevy Impala 409 hardtop with a four-speed. The crew-cutted owner watched me carefully position his treasure without stalling it before cleaning its new white paint back to a factory shine. This guy, with his beautiful car, continued to became a weekly wash customer, so I must have done well while under intense observation from both client and boss.

Within the first few days John taught me how to “count up” change, deal with the new Addressograph credit card imprinter, handle the cash register, pump gas, check oil and tire pressure without prompting, and sell a new set of Anco wiper blades or Atlas tires to those who needed it. Teaching me how to measure the underground gas tanks with a long wooden pole and then reconciling fuel delivery amounts took a bit of patience. A week later I was putting cars on one of the two lifts, changing oil, sucking oil out of Chevy canister filters, and pumping grease into several dozen fittings on the average car. All of this had to be done with a smile and more than a bit of hustle. On slow days, I did things like painting the curbing with white paint and every Saturday night, before the station was finally closed for the weekend, the lube bays were scrubbed and mopped clean for a Monday opening. John entrusted me with the keys to his 1940 Ford coupe “parts car” and the International tow truck that seemed to hate me and anyone but John on its first attempt to start each day. Ever resourceful and frugal, John developed a system where we’d drain the last drops from the emptied fiber oil cans, eventually collecting a stew of fresh oil, enough to give us a “free” oil change for each of our personal and station vehicles every month!

A few weeks before my summer vacation job was to come to an end, John trusted me enough to be left in charge while he took a week’s vacation with his family. Little did I know that his former boss, who had trained him in much the same way at about the same age, had been asked to drive by or stop in, posing as an customer, just to see how I was doing. Apparently, I did just fine because my job was extended almost another year as after-school work.

If this station someday makes it onto a list or historical registry, it will represent, for me, a personal landmark for kind and patient mentoring. John Wolf was among the youngest children from a baker with a large (17?) family and shop less than a block away. By being among the youngest, he must have learned the value of instructing and encouraging someone younger and did it very effectively. These days, all of my five children have picked up a treasure of automotive tips learned at this station. Passing on some of the automotive and interpersonal skills I picked up that year is perhaps the best way a Car Guy knows how to say thank you.

Dave Brownell ( is president of the Corvette Club of Atlanta, Georgia.

Mid-Century Modern Shaw South St. Louis

The Streamlined Standard Service Station in Shaw

by Michael R. Allen and Emily Kozlowski

Thurman Station as it looks today.

Preservation Research Office’s latest project was a sheer joy: preparation of a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the streamlined Thurman Station gas station in the Shaw neighborhood. Thurman Station is an automobile service station at 2232 Thurman Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri built by Czechoslovakian-born franchisee Alois F. Mulach in 1940. Built from the 1930s Standard Oil Company design prototype, the building exemplifies the standard oblong box, porcelain enamel-clad gas station form that was developed at the height of Streamlined Moderne gas station design. The Thurman Station is an excellent showcase of changing gas station design trends in mid-20th century America.

Between 1930 and 1950, modernist design strongly influenced American gas station architecture. The economic depression of the 1930s resulted in deteriorating gasoline sales. In response, new larger stations were built to house more services (like repair service and tire changing) and allow sales of more goods (like tires). The changes increased services and products kept stations competitive. This business tactic brought about the idea of the “common” gas station — always near and usually in close proximity to another station.

The entrance to the shop and office at Thurman Station. Soon the plywood will be removed.

The introduction of new services in subsequently competitive gas stations influenced a new building style. Traditionally, gas stations had hip or gable roofs, but new stations were constructed with completely flat roofs to stand out from the rest. The new gas stations used more glass plate and took away nearly all exterior decoration. Walls were built with brick or stucco, painted with color schemes that matched their company’s logo design. With a clean and bare look, the new gas stations stood apart from any former designs previously used. Built for function and purpose, this particular design became simply known as “the oblong box.”

Sherman Perk occupies the former Copeland’s Service Station in Milwaukee (1937). Copleand’s was built according to the same Standard Oil plan as Thurman Station, but originally clad in masonry instead of enamel panels.

Streamlined industrial design and modern car culture influenced car manufacturers as well as service stations. Designer Walter Dorwin Teague developed an early and influential “streamlined” design for The Texas Company (Texaco) in 1934. Teague’s prototype had curved corners and eye-catching, simple green and red details. Soon other national companies instructed designers to follow suit. Socony-Vacuum Company (now Mobil Oil) hired prominent industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes to develop streamlined buildings. Most stations featured a flat roof, minimal details, the use of porcelain metal panels and a rounded corner with inset office and retail area.

Walter Dorwin Teague’s patent drawings for a Texaco gas station (1934).
Model of Norman Bel Geddes’ famous standard design for Socony-Vacuum service stations (1934).

Building materials were intentionally chosen for service station buildings. Porcelain enamel metal tiles, for example, conjured a modern feeling, while remaining durable, impervious to most damage, easily cleaned through simple washing and as shiny as a new automobile. By the end of the 1950s, however, porcelain enamel service stations began to be remodeled. A common alteration was the removal of the tiles and transformative remodeling based on popular ranch-style designs popular in suburban residential design.

Context: Looking southeast from the intersection of Cleveland and Thurman avenues.

Although located within the Shaw Historic District (a certified local historic district), the gas station was “non-contributing” due to its age. The Shaw Historic District’s period of significance ended in 1937. Preservation Research Office thus prepared a single nomination using the context of the Historic Auto-Related Resources of St. Louis, Missouri Multiple Property Documentation Form (MPDF) written by Ruth Keenoy and Karen Bode Baxter in 2005. Already approved at the state level this month, Thurman Station awaits final listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Thurman Station’s future entails a historically sensitive rehabilitation designed by Craig Shields of Resitect. The porcelain panels are set to shine once more. The owners will use the space for a catering business that will demonstrate the adaptive reuse potential of just one of the city’s vacant oblong box gas stations.

Laura G. Jablonski aided in editing this article, which is derived from the nomination.

Fire Shaw South St. Louis

The Lost Twin at Shaw and 39th

by Michael R. Allen

At the northeast corner of 39th and Shaw avenues stands a three story brick building at 3867 Shaw Avenue that has been fully rehabilitated.    The building sports newly-painted wooden replacement windows and a developer’s sign out front.  Where once its red-brown brick walls showed signs of the grime of age, now is is clean testament to a building’s redemption.

The building, which dates to 1914, is a handsome example of our city’s eclectic Craftsman vein of building and the concurrent rise of mass-produced building products.  The Hydraulic pressed brick, the machine-cut limestone that sparingly adorns the wall and the galvanized metal cornice with its perfectly stamped brackets all show the creative potential of machine age ingenuity.  The stone entrance set into jack-on-jack brick (brick laid corner to corner) within a round-top relieving arch is a particularly fine feature.

The building at 39th and Shaw also stands as the remainder of a set of perpendicular twins that doubled the density of the corner parcel. The twin neighbor of the same age met a horrible end just a few years ago yesterday. I took the photographs here on October 31, 2004.

Between the hours of 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. on October 26, 2004, the St. Louis Fire Department responded to three alarms within a four-block radius. Three buildings — all owned then by the Garden District Commission — were ablaze: a two-flat in the 4000 block of Folsom Avenue, a house in the 4000 block of McRee Avenue and the three-story apartment building at 1854 South 39th Street. All would be demolished in subsequent months.

The twin neighbor was obviously damaged severely by the fire. Rescue would have been possible, but expensive since the roof and top floor had completely collapsed at the building’s north end.

Demolition of the apartment building at 1854 S. 39th Street took away one contributing resource from the Shaw Historic District as well as the existing residential density of the site. Perhaps some day the site will again give rise to a building. Mean time, the next door neighbor stands as a reborn twin separated at death.

Agriculture Gravois Park Shaw South St. Louis Tower Grove East

Chickens in South City

by Michael R. Allen

Sparing readers of chickens coming home platitudes, I will state that there are a lot of chickens in St. Louis city these days. Urban agriculture in the city is becoming more diversified, and many backyard farmers are adding chicken coops with resident hens and roosters. The coops range from formally-designed to organically-built, small to large. Many are made from wooden pieces found in alleys.

On July 11, Travis DeRousse organized the first “St. Louis Chicken Coop Tour” (this is the first by that name, not the first). The tour included eight coops in Shaw, Tower Grove East, Gravois Park, Marine Villa, Benton Park and Dutchtown. The concentration in a relatively small part of south St. Louis suggests that there are dozens of such coops all over the city. Since most coops are low buildings, and most chickens pretty quiet, neighbors may not even realize what is going on next door or down the block. With over 60 people in attendance on the tour, there seems to be strong interest in building more coops and bringing more chickens in the city — which is a return to historic practice, actually.

The first coop on the tour was Greg’s elegant backyard coop in Shaw.  With vergeboards, ornament and a hinged salvaged window, this is a fine work of architecture.

Cara Marie in Tower Grove East built a coop of wood from alleys, with the different pieces almost striated as horizontal siding.

Travis’ own coop in Tower Grove East is a small, neat raised building.  The problem: his dogs shared the backyard, but not for long.  The dogs killed the chickens.  Chickens need to be protected from dogs.  Some coop owners on the tour spoke of how their cats were safe around chickens, and protected them.  Not all cats are created equal, however.

Just one block down the street from Travis, Sara Kate has what was the largest coop of the tour.  Again, the alley salvage craftsmanship shows.  The shed roof is hinged to open for easy access.

I had to leave the tour at the Community Arts and Media Project (CAMP), the fourth stop, but not before peeking in the CAMP coop to see not only a hen but also a duck!  There are certainly lots of possibilities in urban farming.

The contemporary urban coops are just the latest manifestation of chicken-raising in the city.  Old newspapers are full of tales, mostly silly, that illustrate how prevalent chickens were in St. Louis in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  An 1897 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gave a hi-falutin “city farmer” space to describe good practices.  The farmer called for prohibiting chickens in the city so that farms were all-vegetable!

The August 20, 1881 issue of the Post-Dispatch carried the article “The Compton Hill Chickens,” showing that the southsiders of today are really just upholding tradition.  A Mr. Brunaugh of 2744 Lafayette Avenue reported that men were going door to door on Compton Hill trying to sell chickens that they brought along.  The sales ruse included letting the a chicken go, causing a mad dash by the “salesmen” across back yards.  They would capture their hen but also pick up a few others on the way.  “The finest chickens in the city are raised on Compton Hill,” the reporter wrote.

Sometimes chickens led to courtroom drama, too.  The article “Poisoned Fowls Cause of Quarrel” in the October 5, 1904 issue of the Post-Dispatch reported on the curious sudden death of 35 of Mrs. Fox’s chickens.  (There were no limits on number of chickens at that time, and I doubt that today’s chicken farmers have any aspirations to a number as big as 35.)  Mrs. Fox accused next-door neighbor Mrs. Catherine Seher of 2812 Arsenal Street of throwing poisoned bread over the fence.  Justice Kleiber of the Police Court sided with Mrs. Seher, however, after testimony by all parties.  Miss Nellie Seher, daughter of the accused, was a strong witness.  The article notes that Miss Seher “did not use adjectives in her testimony, and was therefore more than ordinarily convincing.”

Demolition Fire Historic Preservation Shaw South St. Louis

Lost Chance on Shenandoah

by Michael R. Allen

The 2007 fire that struck the four-flat at 3927-29 Shenandoah Avenue in the Shaw neighborhood eventually proved fatal. The building had been under rehabilitation when fire struck. The owners stopped paying taxes and mortgage payments, and ownership somehow split between Heartland Bank and the Land Reutilization Authority (the building straddles a lot line).

Obviously, the building was struck severely by the fire. Like most house fires, the fire spread upward and consumed the roof and second floor worst. Most of the roof sheathing was lost in the fire, leaving the building open to the elements. However, the walls had been tuckpointed and remained solid until the last days.

In October 2008, the Building Division condemned the building for demolition and sought demolition. Neighbors had filed many complaints on the condition of the house. Immediately to the west, a developer is rehabbing a similar building using historic rehab tax credits and understandably did not want a big question-mark next door.

After first being placed on the November 2008 agenda of the Preservation Board, the demolition shifted into high gear. Suddenly, the Building Division issued an emergency demolition order and paid to wreck the building. By the middle of December, it was gone. (Wonder if owner Heartland Bank got a bill for half of the cost?)

While the condition of the building was extreme, it was far from being a total loss. With solid masonry, the building was in no danger of immediate collapse. This could have been a great reconstruction project. Instead, the house went through the motions of our failed public safety laws: damage and abandonment, citizen complaints, emergency tear-down order. As the developers next door show, there is more than one way to fix a broken building, but the Building Division never seems to grasp that fact. Nor does the Cultural Resources Office (CRO) possess sufficient legal authority to prevent a senseless demolition like this one; the office and the Preservation Board were at the mercy of the Building Division, which controls what matters reach consideration of our preservation agency and its citizen commission. The CRO cannot override an emergency order, no matter how silly it is (and many are).

The neighbors’ momentary complaints are addressed, but they ultimately lose a remarkable street scape. On a block with only two gaps in continuous historic building line, both across the street, this demolition stands out. The demolition stands out even more since the demolished house is one of a row of five near-copies of the same plan built in 1903. defined by rusticated limestone front elevations, central porches and projecting bays on each end, the row was a handsome group.

Looking at one of the extant members of this group, one sees the potential that the house at 3927-29 Shenandoah Avenue had, even in its fire-damaged state.

Demolition matters as much in a neighborhood as dense as Shaw as it does in a ravaged built environment like Old North. I would write that the only difference is why the buildings matter, but that would be false. The reason senseless demolitions harm our neighborhoods is because they erode the sense of place. Take away the last two buildings on a north side block, and the last vestige of the block’s urban character is gone forever. Take away one house on an intact block face in Shaw, and that block face is no longer intact. That brings a difference as big as taking down the last building standing. Besides, it’s not just a matter of blocks or neighborhoods but ultimately a matter of stewardship of this interconnected mass of resources we call St. Louis.

Academy Neighborhood Demolition Lafayette Square North St. Louis Preservation Board Shaw South St. Louis St. Louis Place

Preservation Board to Consider Five Demolition Proposals on Monday

by Michael R. Allen

The preliminary agenda for the St. Louis Preservation Board’s regular monthly meeting on Monday, November 24 is now available. The agenda contains five demolition proposals.

Three proposals are preliminary reviews requested by the Department of Public Safety, seeking condemnation for demolition on private properties located at 1824 Warren Street in the Clemens House-Columbia Brewery Historic District (St. Louis Place), 5115 Cates Avenue in the Mount Cabanne-Raymond Place Historic District (Academy) and 3927-29 Shenandoah Avenue in the Shaw Historic District. The fourth preliminary review is requested by a homeowner for a historic garage at 1106 Dolman Street in the Lafayette Square Historic District.

Then there is a staff denial of a demolition permit for the frame 19th century house at 4722 Tennessee Avenue in Dutchtown South. A different owner went through the same motions last year, and in June 2007 the Preservation Board upheld staff denial of the demolition permit. The current owner, New Life Evangelistic Center, is a tenacious organization, so this may be the most contentious item on the agenda.

Hyde Park McRee Town North St. Louis Preservation Board Shaw South St. Louis

At the Preservation Board Today

by Michael R. Allen

The agenda for today’s St. Louis Preservation Board meeting contains some interesting items. Under the item “4104-54 DeTonty” we find that McBride and Son wants to retain some of the existing buildings on the block. Still, McBride wants to level two great Craftsman-style four-flats that, while derelict, are structurally stable enough for rehab (and vastly superior in materials and detail to any new houses I’ve seen in the city). Under “4008 N. 25th Street” — one of two Hyde Park items on the agenda — the Cultural Resources staff is urging preservation of a sound, small fachwerk (part brick, part timber) building that Alderman Freeman Bosley wants demolished.