Downtown Historic Preservation

Preservation of Police Headquarters

by Michael R. Allen

Picking up on the Downtown St. Louis Business blog’s post: St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Daniel Isom wants an overhaul of police headquarters, and one option he will present to the Board of Police Commissioners is demolition of Police Headquarters and replacement with a new building. The other options are renovation (sensible) and relocation into new quarters (perhaps most expensive).

The Police Headquarters Building, built in 1927 and designed by Mauran, Russell & Crowell, is an integral part of our civic buildings group. Losses in the past twenty years of the Kiel Auditorium, Police court, Board of Elections, Jail and the Children’s buildings have already diminished that group. The Headquarters and the adjacent Police Academy, built in 1928 and also designed by Mauran, Russell and Crowell, form a distinguished if austere pair.

The Police Headquarters is not a City Landmark, is not listed in the National Register of Historic Places and sits in a ward (the 7th) that lacks preservation review of demolition permits. All of those statuses should change, but National Register listing could be the most beneficial for the department to come up with a financially feasible plan for rehabilitation. Our ancestors had a knack for building great public buildings, and we have a knack for rehabbing them for original or new uses. Chief Isom and the Board of Police Commissioners can count on a lot of help — and creativity — preserving Police Headquarters.