by Michael R. Allen
At 4011 Delmar Boulevard in the Vandeventer neighborhood stands a massive abandoned apartment building. The first floor base, clad in buff terra cotta, supports a H-shaped upper section of red brick with terra cotta quoins, string course under the top floor and cornice. The side and rear walls have an exposed concrete structural grid. The building is noteworthy because it is one of the few large apartment buildings in the vicinity — it truly is at a scale that is unusual for this location.
However, when construction began in 1927, the building was part of an anticipated boom of such construction following the tornado of September 1927. The site of the 4011 Delmar Apartments, as the building was originally known, was cleared after the tornado destroyed the buildings on the site. After the tornado, some developers thought there was potential to build up the neighborhood at greater density with modern fireproof multi-proof buildings. The Great Depression shot down that notion, but not before the 4011 was completed in 1928. Designed by obscure architect Marion Garrison, the 4011 remains an unusual post-tornado achievement.
Now, the 4011 is ripe for development once more. A sign on the exterior proclaims that it is for sale and includes the number of Frank Ploch, St. Louis Premier Realtors, 314-378-8016. Gutted down to the shell, the sturdy 72,000 square foot apartment building is ready for renewal at a location that is within short distance from the cultural institutions of Midtown and the street life of the Central West End. The potential of this building to shine again can be witnessed in the revival of another singular large apartment building that fell down on its luck, the Winston Churchill Apartments at Belt and Cabanne in the West End.
The 4011 Delmar is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and thus is eligible for historic rehabilitation tax credits. (Read the excellent nomination by Ruth Keenoy, Karen Baxter and Allison Brown here.)
Some photographs of the 4011 in darker days can be found on Sonic Atrophy.