Brick Theft JeffVanderLou North St. Louis

Depletion, Bacon Street

by Michael R. Allen

Two pairs of houses had stood on the east side of Bacon Street just south of North Market Street since before the turn of the last century. Now, three of the four are reduced to ruins by brick thieves in St. Louis’ ongoing brick theft crisis, removing more of the JeffVanderLou neighborhood’s unique architectural character and housing units that were occupied until just three years ago. Some count three buildings lost, and shrug, while others count these among over 100 lost to brick theft across north St. Louis in the last decade, and wonder when it will end.

1920 and 1924 Bacon Street

These unusual houses were both built in 1897 by the same builder.  Unusual for the surrounding area of JeffvanderLou, the houses share a party wall.  However their front elevations show differences in execution of essentially two identical (but flipped) same floorplans.  The northern house, at 1924 Bacon Street, uses flat limestone lintels and a triangular pediment that put it in the Greek Revival.  The other house employs rounded arches with ornamental label courses as well as a cornice of ornamental brick,traits that put it in the Romanesque Revival that was very popular in St. Louis during the 1890s.

The houses at 1920 and 1924 Bacon Street in December 2009.
There is significant damage to 1920 Bacon Street in April 2011.

1910 and 1912 Bacon Street

These two houses in the Second Empire style had identical layouts, fenestration and bracketed wooden cornices. Built in 1884, they may have originally both had false slate-clad mansard roofs like the one at 1910 Bacon retained until the day it collapsed into the rubble pile of collective memory. The neighboring house remained, fire-damaged, until this spring.

The houses at 1910 (right) and 1912 (left) Bacon Street were empty but intact in December 2009.
By March 2010, 1910 Bacon Street was reduced to rubble in a foundation.
In April 2011, 1912 Bacon Street is being destroyed by thieves.

7 replies on “Depletion, Bacon Street”

Michael, don’t you think brick theft is a symptom of deeper problems? Has brick theft ever occurred in an occupied building?

Yes, at the corner of St. Louis Place and 20th Street. The man was down on his luck, so the house looked a little rough around the edges, but he was living there when a corner of his house was hit by brick thieves. The house was eventually torn down by the city.

BTW, wouldn’t you say the two houses were more of Italianate-Second Empire Hybrids? All the more reason they should have been preserved.

note the irony of a Neighborhood Watch sign right in front of a house pillaged by brick thieves.

Almost all houses in St. Louis are hybrids. I can see some Italianate influences here, but not enough to categorize the houses as such.

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