Historic Preservation JeffVanderLou North St. Louis Northside Regeneration

Not Long for This World?

by Michael R. Allen

The house at 2719 Madison Street (left), owned by N & G Ventures since 2006, is obviously facing serious problems. The front wall collapsed in early 2008. While the joists run parallel to the front wall and are in no way compromised by the wall collapse, the roof structure is clearly sagging. The old house in JeffVanderLou dates to 1879 and managed to dodge decades of area decline. Two blocks east is the Pruitt-Igoe site. All around this block are vacant lots and derelict historic buildings. In the past five years, the speed of abandonment has rapidly increased, but the worst toll hit this area between 1950-1980.

The surviving buildings hung on, due to better ownership or physical condition than neighbors. Will the survival of remaining resources be only momentary? That’s up to current owners and political leaders — especially the aldermen who have the power to craft a redevelopment ordinance that will detail requirements for preservation, land use and eminent domain. For every house with a wall collapse is one like the next-door neighbor here, which is vacant but as solid as ever. No matter what, this poor house at 2719 Madison Street does not seem long for the world.