by Michael R. Allen
In March 2006, the City Council in Granite City approved spending $90,000 to demolish 15 buildings as part of an effort to revive the ailing downtown area. Seven of these buildings had architectural merit and were structurally sound. While the other eight were marginally interesting and in various states of decay, these seven were all from the period of 1890-1920 and worth preserving in a city where historic architecture is one of the biggest cultural assets.
One of these buildings is the two-story commercial building at 1308 19th Street in the heart of downtown that once housed the R.S. Holstein Dry Goods Company. This building draws upon the Georgian Revival style and possesses intricate detailing in white enameled terra cotta. While the interior needs gutting, the building retains historic and structural integrity and is a fine candidate for reuse. Perhaps Granite City government agrees, because as of September 2006 the building remains standing while the other 14 slated for demolition are gone. Economic Development Director Jon Ferry has commissioned a preservation study for downtown. Preservation of buildings like this one are essential components of such a plan, given the high level of demolition that has eroded the architectural context there. The city shouldn’t overreact — this building is neither a crack house nor is it falling onto the street. Ferry seems to understand the cultural and economic value of such buildings, so reuse may be forthcoming.
Of special note are the painted signs on the building’s west wall.