by Michael R. Allen
By March 22, Haven of Grace had demolished the house at 2605 Hadley Street in Old North St. Louis — a building counted as a contributing resource to the Murphy-Blair Historic District. Last month, the Preservation Board approved the demolition permit for the house at its February meeting. (Read more here.)
Haven of Grace originally had applied to demolish that house and another one at 2619-21 Hadley Street that is also a contributing resource to the district. At the Preservation Board meeting, Haven of Grace announced its withdrawal of that application and its intention to rehabilitate the building for use as offices.
The demolition of 2605 Hadley makes way for a three-story addition designed by architect Tom Cohen, who is also preparing plans for the rehabilitation of the remaining historic house. The addition will create apartments that will allow Haven of Grace to expand its social services to homeless pregnant women and their children by offering more substantial transitional housing. Haven of Grace is a part of the Grace Hill Settlement House.
The expansion plan increases building density on the block, even though it entailed demolition of a historic house that was not beyond repair. On the whole, this is a good project for an important institution that does difficult work. Many neighborhoods would likely turn Haven of Grace away.
However, Old North St. Louis cannot afford to lose another historic building. This is an exception brought about through compromise — not a precedent.