by Michael R. Allen
There is an old front-gabled, one-story shotgun house in Old North St. Louis at 1445 Monroe Street. This little home is clad in a permastone-like material but retains pretty elaborate wooden tracery along the front gable. I would guess that the home dates to the early 1880s.
This house sits directly across the street from the block face where a partnership between the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group and the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance has rescued three buildings from vacancy, including two old buildings that needed front walls rebuilt. This partnership assembled financing using 11 different sources of funding and spent over $250,000 per finished unit in the ongoing restoration of buildings like these.
Meanwhile, Noble Development Company purchased the house at 1445 Monroe on March 9, 2006, and the house is now vacant. Noble Development Company is apparently part of the “Blairmont” family of companies (link to an in-progress site of documentation) and now owns around 250 properties. While responsible developers are spending $250,000 per unit on buildings in need of intense rehab, the guns behind Blairmont won’t even spend $1,000 on each of its many properties, that include overgrown lots as well as buildings like the James Clemens, Jr. House.
Then again, someday people may be paying $250,000 for a house at 1445 Monroe — but not the modest but lovely house on the site now. Perhaps the street name will be changed by then. #14 Ingenuity Drive, anyone?