by Michael R. Allen
My goodness, I hate passing the corner of Cass and Florissant and seeing a strange mess of masonry rubble where before the Brecht Butcher Supply Company buildings stood. It’s getting harder to know when I’m back home. I hate to engage in outbursts of emotion, but I feel that this problem is pretty logical: the loss of tangible landmarks erodes a living environment to the point of unfamiliarity.
Do you want to pass by daily a pile of rubble that may stay a vacant lot for years? Do you want to look through that rubble and see intact and recognizable parts of the building? Do you want to deal with the failure of any legal authority to protect the sanctity of place?
This was no mere run of the mill (method) building. The Brecht buildings were among the finest of the near north side’s industrial buildings, and completely worth the loss of reputation I risked to defend them. Additionally, they defined the southern portal of my neighborhood, Old North St. Louis. Without them, I have a vacant lot as a grave and — perhaps surprising — more energy to resist the next assault on my neighborhood. I’m not angry, I’m agitated — and that leads to action.