Brecht Butcher Buildings Demolition Old North

Watching the Brecht Demolition

by Michael R. Allen

Every morning comes one of the many internal negotiations of the day: Do I pass by the Brecht Butcher Supply Company buildings on my way to work?

I have a few choices for routes to work, so passing by the buildings is not necessary. However, as wrecking work progresses, I have to deal with the innate curiosity. How much further have the wreckers progressed? What does the column on that floor of that section look like now that it’s exposed? And so forth. These are questions that I consider not only for my own curiosity but because I’m bound to get a few (and I mean very few in this case, given what side of Delmar these buildings are on) questions.

Most days, I take the hard route and pass by. Sometimes, I linger for awhile. The smiling workers are busy putting bricks up on pallets, knocking wall sections down. I watch, but only once have I photographed the scene. Usually, I am compelled to take a few photographs of demolitions, because the recorded details are useful for later research. This time, I have been slow to record what has to be one of the greatest buildings to be demolished in St. Louis since the Century Building.

Perhaps my lack of urgency comes from my deep personal disgust at this senseless loss — one I haven’t felt much before. Perhaps it comes from the fact that these buildings never received the preservation battle that they deserved. (Has any building in recent years?) Most likely, both. In the face of business as usual, investment in observing great loss alone can seem pointless.  I suppose that I will take the camera with me tomorrow, though.