by Michael R. Allen
On Wednesday, November 16, the editors of this site spotted three men and a pickup truck in the front yard of the Clemens House. The men were loading cast iron from the porch of the main house, including the intact pediment. Much of this ornament had fallen off of the porch in the last six months, and the men simply had to lift pieces off of the ground and into their truck. In fact, it appears as if they did not attempt to remove any parts from the porch.
We alerted the police, but nothing came of our call.
Here is what the thieves took with them:
Keep an eye out at antique shops, museums and scrap yards for this unique piece of St. Louis history. While it may turn up locally, the more likely scenario is that it was either scrapped or sold through an intermediary to a dealer in a place where no one will recognize the stolen parts.
Here is what the Clemens House looks like before and after the porch collapse and theft:
The porch on October 31, 2004
The porch on November 25, 2005
Abandonment, speculation and architectural theft — the fate of the Clemens House is very familiar in this city. But how can we send such an exceptional building to an unexceptional death? Our city needs no more architectural bloodletting; we are ready to heal. The Clemens House should be preserved.