by Michael R. Allen
The house at 5115 Cates Avenue in the Mount Cabanne-Raymond Place Historic District is on tomorrow’s St. Louis Preservation Board Agenda. The owner is seeking a preliminary review on demolition, via the Department of Public Safety. (That arrangement is supposed to allow the owners to “test” the Preservation Board before hiring a demolition contract and shelling out a down payment.)
There is absolutely no reason for demolishing this house. Built in 1901 and designed by Benjamin Cunliff, the only major alteration to the house has been the replacement of the original porch columns. The stately Classical Revival house is perfectly sound, with all four walls solid as the day they were finished. The roof seems intact. Most window and door openings are secured. Under the city’s preservation ordinance, the condition of the property and proposed re-use of the site (crabgrass farm) do not meet the criteria set forth that allow the Preservation Board to grant demolition. For that reason, the city’s Cultural Resources Office is recommending denial of the preliminary review.
Beyond the house itself, this block is a largely intact one lined with rows of homes just like these — American Foursquares designed in a range of revival styles. The streetscapes here bear a resemblance to those of Tower Grove South and Shaw. The potential for this neighborhood — technically the Academy neighborhood — to become as healthy as its south side counterparts is strong, but rests on preservation of its distinctive architecture.
The Preservation Board meets at 4:00 p.m. Monday, November 24, in the 12th floor conference room at 1015 Locust Street downtown. The meeting agenda is online. Correspondence to the board may be sent to BufordA@stlouiscity.com.