by Michael R. Allen
The Romanesque Revival house at 3658-60 Cook Avenue, the subject of an article on Ecology of Absence last year, is slated for demolition. The house and a connected house to the east were architecturally similar and jointly made a strong impact on the streetscape. I can think of few interconnected buildings in the city that were so compatible and whose existences seemed so deeply intertwined.
In late August 2006, a fire struck both houses and led to the demolition of the city-owned half of the pair. The other house remained in place, against the odds of reason, time and condition. Brick rustlers made quick work of the rear elevation, leaving gaping holes and revealing whole rooms. That uncertain state is now over.
The Building Division has apparently issued a permit (Geo St. Louis shows a permit application), and a wrecker’s sign now hangs on the front elevation.
While photographing the doomed house this week, I met a neighborhood resident who asked me why I was photographing the building. I offered that the building was special, and he asked me again why I was there and whether or not I would buy it and fix it up. I told him about the demolition, and he was amazed. A house like this won’t ever be built again, I said and he nodded.
The other, newer ballon-frame houses on the block will blow over in the next tornado, according to this man. Seeing how beautiful and sturdy this house was even after a fire underscored his point well.