by Michael R. Allen
With the St. Louis Archdiocese awaiting a new archbishop, and archdiocese revenue down to $160 million in 2008 (compare to $252 million in 2007), hope for the DeVille Motor Hotel at 4483 Lindell Boulevard is growing. After all, with a major leadership transition in the works and revenue down, there is a great chance to convince the archdiocese to reconsider demolition of the mid-century modern motel. The Archdiocese may find it more financially prudent to place the building up for sale to raise revenue. The land alone remains very valuable.
Sale of the land would probably not occur until after a new archbishop is installed and after prices rise again. For as imprudent and wasteful demolition and parking lot construction is, getting a low sale price is just as bad. The Archdiocese can wait out market conditions and a change in leadership.
Thus, preservationists have some time to thoroughly explore options that would retain architect Charles Colbert’s curvaceous modern landmark. Serious thought should be given to use, conditions, cost and landmark eligibility. With creative thinking, a solid preservation plan could be on the table in time for the next archbishop to consider. Even then, the Archdiocese might not be ready to make a move — but advocates for saving the fine building would be ready for the time when it is.