by Michael R. Allen
The alley house largely intact, November 19, 2005. Photograph by Michael R. Allen.
The alley house after its wall collapse, April 8, 2006. Photograph by Claire Nowak-Boyd.
The high winds of April brought a cruel fury to the near north side of St. Louis. Spectacular damage sustained on April 2 by the landmark Mullanphy Emigrant Home on 14th Street and the Nord St. Louis Turnverein on Salisbury Street was followed by the total destruction of a smaller building a few days later. Late on April 7, the alley house at 3512 N. 19th Street fell to the winds of the sort that must have inspired T.S. Eliot’s famed quote. The entire western wall, along 19th Street, collapsed and took down most of the roof and second floor, leaving only three walls to contain a pile of rubble that spilled out onto the street.
View of eastern elevation. Photograph by Claire Nowak-Boyd.
The plain two story flat-roofed house stood behind the house at 1530 Mallinckrodt Street, near the head of Garden Street. Construction of the house, which likely housed four households, likely dates to the early 1890s, but the house fell vacant nearly one hundred years later as became part of the city government’s inventory of vacant buildings in 1989. With little interest in Hyde Park in recent years, and even less interest in alley houses, the fine building was only waiting for its demise. No one could have guessed that it would come spectacularly around midnight, just moments before the editors of Ecology of Absence would come upon it while driving home.
View southeast from the corner of 19th and Mallinckrodt streets. The vacant building to the left is privately owned. Photograph by Michael R. Allen.
Sadly, this block has been suffering lately; in October, the Bernard Kettman House at 1522-24 Mallickrodt caught fire and now sits condemned and vacant. Other buildings on the 1500 block of Mallinckrodt are vacant or in disrepair.