by Michael R. Allen
I have taken so many photographs of north St. Louis buildings that I often fall behind in tracking the subjects. The buildings shown above are a good example, since this photograph dates to August 2005, their demolition took place in 2006 and I noticed their loss in 2008.
When I stumbled upon this pair on Evans Avenue in Lewis Place I was struck by the versatility of the pyramidal turret. At left, the house at 4409 Evans Avenue uses the turret to punctuate the top of a projecting bay window.
Brick quoins and terra cotta panels adorned the Classical Revival building, but that center-placed turret was the crown. Rising above the flared gable’s peak, the turret drew the eye toward the sky, balancing the view of the building with a strong sense of the natural world around it. The architect’s skyward aspirations were immodest but also inspiring. Here, as in so many other instances in St. Louis, a building for the common person was addressing the street with architectural finery and any power above with a tall turret.
The vacant lot now on this site draws the eye downward, at ragged grass and the droppings of careless pedestrians and motorists. There is nothing transformational about the vacant lot, and no hint of any aspiration — even toward reuse of the site.