by Michael R. Allen
A quiet row of survivors sat at the intersection of Taylor and Delmar for years, until this year. These two-story commercial buildings, starting with an odd corner building with a rounded bay, formed an unbroken row in a part of the Central West End that is sadly disjointed from years of demolition, fires and bad remodeling. These find buildings date to the turn of the century, and are comparable to the splendid commercial buildings once found south on Olive Street in the area known as Gaslight Square. Over time, they became rare examples of this areaâ€™s commercial stock instead of the lesser variety they would have been when built.
Yet demolition started this year, marring the row. At first, the small building at 4472 Delmar, owned by the cityâ€™s Land Reutilization, fell. Next, the owners of the two buildings from 4470-78 Delmar (joined as one parcel) began plotting demolition. These two were executed in solid red brick with spare use of ornamental flourish. The building at 4470 was very plain but had wonderful arched storefront openings at the ground floor, while the building at 4474 had some fine cast iron columns decorating its first floor.
The building at 4474 Delmar Boulevard on March 31, 2005. Photograph by Michael R. Allen.
By July, 4474 was gone. By the end of August, 4470 will be completely gone as well.
The buildings at 4470 and 4474 Delmar Boulevard on August 9, 2005. Photograph by Michael R. Allen.
The two most unusual buildings in the row will survive, but without the context that accentuated them seem less spectacular. The Mae Building, now home to Williams Ornamental Iron Works, will remain at 4468 Delmar. Its white glazed brick facade features a decorative course of green glazed bricks as well as a polychrome terra cotta shield panel. The corner building at 468 N. Taylor will stand, although its being owned by “Kashflo Properties” makes me hesitant to stop worrying about it.
This casual demolition of common historic buildings is prevalent in historic areas not included in National Register of Historic Places or City Landmark districts, since renovation tax credits are not available in these areas expect for individually-listed. In this case, the buildings stood in a part of the Central West End north of Olive Street that is not part of the current district boundaries. May the boundaries soon be extended northward.
The remains of the buildings at 4470 and 4474 Delmar Boulevard on August 9, 2005. Photograph by Michael R. Allen.