Abandonment Storefront Addition Vandeventer

Fading on Delmar

by Michael R. Allen

The storefront additions at 4035 (left) and 4033 (right) Delmar Boulevard in slightly better condition last year.

Last month, I reported that the large apartment building at 4011 Delmar Boulevard was on the market again. Down the block to the west, another story is unfolding — and I see an unhappy ending in the works. The elegant but abandoned town house at 4035 Delmar Boulevard, shown above, and its streamlined two-story storefront addition are in trouble.  (More information about the storefront additions on this block can be found in this post from last year.)

4035 Delmar Boulevard last month.

First, something — perhaps an automobile — smacked into the corner of the storefront addition.  The corner of that section is settling something fierce.  Now, there is gaping hole in the front of the house that continues to grow wider.

If the property was owned by the city, its demise would all but be assured.  However, property tax records show that the owners live in Israel.  Perhaps the owners are aware of the building’s condition, but there has been no indication borne out in repair.  No doubt that we will watch a slow death unfold — for shame.

Some readers may find the contrast between the faded beauty of the house and the modern lines of the storefront jarring.  Yet I see the simultaneous presence of two phases of the Vandeventer neighborhood’s life, and soon-to-be squandered potential for rebirth.

Abandonment JeffVanderLou North St. Louis Storefront Addition

Storefront/Commercial Addition: Ted Foster & Sons Funeral Home

by Michael R. Allen

People often ask me about the history of the old, boarded-up funeral home at 1221 N. Grand near Page. This is indeed a curious old building, and it wears clearly its layers of construction history. There is the old house, built in 1895 and tucked away behind the later kinda-sorta Colonial Revival front. The front itself shows its seams, so to speak: there is the 1930s-era first floor, with the scrolled broken pediment entrance and prominent keystones. Then there is the second floor, with slightly different tapestry brick and flat-arch window openings with unmistakable post-World War II metal windows. There is a boxy northern wing and the graceful gated archway on the south, from which a funeral procession would once begin. Tying the whole thing together is a projecting gabled portico, replete with columns topped by authentic Ionic capitals with genuine volutes. There are terra cotta urns on each side of the portico up top.

This is a pretty classy hybrid building, and its history is likewise dignified. This is the former home of Ted Foster and Sons Funeral Home, which had passed its 75th year of business here when it abruptly closed in 2008. When the African-American Foster family took over the old house around 1933, this neighborhood had changed a lot. Now known as JeffVanderLou, this was then called Yeatman or Grand Prairie and the residential population had shifted to being largely African-American. As African Americans migrated to the city, the Mill Creek Valley neighborhood was overwhelmed and African-Americans began moving farther north up toward Cass Avenue.

The Foster family were entrepreneurs and ran a strong business until foreclosure in 2008. the circumstances of the closure remain vague, and the building is now empty awaiting its next life. Perhaps renewed interest in developing this part of time will be a rising tide for this curious dry-docked vessel.

North St. Louis Penrose Storefront Addition

Stone Church

by Michael R. Allen

The frame one-story commercial building at 4709 Natural Bridge Road went up in 1914, early in the heydey of the thoroughfare. Later, by 1965, a church congregation took over the building and added the projecting, crenellated stone entrance bay. In so doing, the congregation largely masked the modest building behind and created one of Natural Bridge’s smallest architectural landmarks. Today, the building houses the Christian Servant Missionary Baptist Church.

Fountain Park North St. Louis Storefront Addition

Small Storefront Addition

Southeast corner of Vernon and Walton Avenues, Fountain Park.

Preservation Board Storefront Addition The Hill

Two Buildings on Southwest Avenue Threatened

by Michael R. Allen

In August, the owners of the historic Hill restaurant Favazza’s applied to demolish two buildings to the west of the restaurant’s building. These buildings are located at 5209 (right in the photograph above) and 5211-13 (left) Southwest Avenue. These are finely-detailed brick buildings that help define the street wall. Of course, the residential building at 5211-13 Southwest Avenue sports a fine storefront addition that extends the building to the sidewalk line. The original section appears on the 1903 Sanborn fire insurance map as one of the few brick buildings in the largely undeveloped area.

Although not in any historic district, the buildings are within the 10th Ward Preservation Review district. The city’s Cultural Resources Office has denied the demolition permits. The owners of the buildings have appealed. The proposed new use is unknown to this writer.

The Preservation Board will consider the appeal at its monthly meeting on November 23 at 4:00 p.m. (The meeting takes place downtown at 1015 Locust Street, 12th floor.)

Citizens can testify on the matter at the meeting or send comments to:

Preservation Board c/o
Adonna Buford, Secretary
1015 Locust Street, Suite 1100
St. Louis, MO 63101

Alderman Joseph Vollmer
Board of Aldermen
Room 230
City Hall
1200 Market Street
St. Louis, MO 63103

Fairground North St. Louis Storefront Addition

Storefront Additions: West Florissant and Linton

by Michael R. Allen

The striking group of vacant buildings at the northwest corner of West Florissant and Linton Avenues (3900-4 West Florissant Avenue, technically) in the Fairgrounds neighborhood has long attracted the attention of photographers, amateur architectural historians and passer-by. The colorful name on the liquor store sign at the corner, Lucille McQuade, tempts the imagination to conjure Lucille. Sassy liquor store owner, sitting behind the corner with a quick no bullshit face for the teenagers trying to buy a Colt? I don’t know, but I do know Lucille’s old store is not long for this world.

Two years have passed since I took the first photograph in this post. The three buildings now look even worse. Well, the corner building (built in 1933) is same and sound, although the enamelled sign board has been crumpled by a would-be thief. The two-story house, built in 1896, was first robbed of limestone keystone and voussoirs above the second floor windows. Then came the fire in May of this year that triggered collapse of most of the building structure. The formal front elevation struggles to maintain its composure, and the side walls are largely intact. However, anything wooden has fallen down where gravity has lured all buildings forever.

Yet all is not lost, because the house’s commercial front (built some time after 1933) is intact. This front actually covers the front and wraps around the side. Bricks from the house have fallen through the roof, perhaps, but this fireproof building addition is intact and could be rescued from its crippled parent. The pale-toned tapestry brick and the terra cotta shields are particularly bright on this building. Notice how the new front is built over the pier of the one-story corner store, which shares some of its vocabulary.

If we lose the buildings on one side of Linton, we have two other storefront additions on the other. United Railways built a street car line on West Florissant between 1910 and 1915, and as residents of older neighborhoods like Old North and Hyde Park moved in this direction, there was demand for more retail. The residential buildings around this intersection were located near earlier commercial buildings, and adaptation into commercial use was logical for owners. The tenement building above, located at 3856 West Florissant Avenue, was built in 1890 and built out to the sidewalk with a store in 1927.

On the same block at the alley line is the building at 3848 West Florissant Avenue. The house is a small brick shaped-parapet structure on a raised foundation dating to 1892. The commercial addition dates to some time after 1910. Use has come full circle, as the storefront is now used as a residence.

Midtown Storefront Addition

Storefront Additions: The Bars of Laclede Avenue

by Michael R. Allen

Where do thirsty Billikens go? Why, they are likely to head to a storefront addition on Laclede Avenue. Both of the street’s off-campus bars are located in former nineteenth century residences that were converted to commercial use in the twentieth century.

The venerable bar Humphrey’s at the southwest corner of Laclede and Spring Avenue has been around since 1976. The building housing the bar dates first to 1891, when the two-story row of flats were built. While some of the window openings are bricked in or altered, and the building is covered in a stark paint scheme, the building’s Romanesque cornice is fully intact. The wide commercial addition with its chamfered (architecture speak for “angled”) corner entrance dates to 1939. The first tenants in the storefront were Oscay McCoy, confectioner, at the corner, and Vernal Ragsdale, barber, at the next door.

One block west at 3818 Laclede Street is the Laclede Street Bar and Grill, an establishment that is not as old as Humphrey’s. Neither is the building, since the house dates to 1895 with a back addition for the Ortleb Machinery Company built in 1947. The storefront and side additions, however, are not as old as they look. The additions date to 1968, when the building opened as Caleco’s bar. This storefront addition has always served university students.

Benton Park South St. Louis Storefront Addition

Benton Park Building With Storefront Addition Wins Award

by Michael R. Allen

When Landmarks Association of St. Louis awarded its annual Most Enhanced Sites awards on may 15, it included the building at 1814 Sidney Street in Benton Park. Besides receiving a major overhaul and sensitive rehabilitation, the building sports a storefront addition! The house dates to 1884, with the addition built in 1912.

David Rothschild, Vice President of Rothschild Development, purchased the building in 2006 and embarked upon rehabilitation in 2007. With masonry and mansard roof restoration as well as storefront reconstruction, the building looks much better now. Perhaps other buidlings with storefront additions will follow.

Read more about the Most Enhanced Sites here.

CORTEX Storefront Addition

Storefront Addition With Grain Elevator

by Michael R. Allen

To me, the contrast between the house with storefront addition at 4052 Forest Park Boulevard (house, c. 1890; addition, 1917) and the towering grain elevator is beautiful. Both buildings are testament to the results of flexible zoning and the spirit of commerce. No subsidy or master plan could produce any architectural contrast like this — this is the work of people shaping the built environment to their needs.

Flounder House JeffVanderLou North St. Louis Storefront Addition

Storefront Addition to Flounder House

by Michael R. Allen

Just west of the Pruitt-Igoe Nature Reserve at 2719 James Cool Papa Bell Avenue in JeffVanderLou is this fine storefront addition dating to 1912. Now used as a residence, the structure is attached to a two-story flounder house! No attempt to match that house’s dentillated cornice was made by the builders of the addition.