by Michael R. Allen
On April 2, 2006, a wall of severe weather struck St. Louis, causing tornadoes to form in several areas. The near north side was hit very hard, and one of the most notable buildings sustaining damage was the Nord St. Louis Turnverein. Unfortunately, winds ravaged the most vulnerable part of the abandoned landmark: the original portion, dating to 1872, that had suffered a roof collapse two years earlier. The roof of the gymnasium fell inside during heavy winter snows in 2004, leaving the brick walls unanchored. As water continued to enter the brick walls, it created major bulges in the east and west walls. During the strong winds on April 2, these bulges led to extensive wall failure because the walls had no structural anchor.
Historian and preservation consultant Karen Bode Baxter and engineer Alan Scott toured the building on April 5. Baxter reports: “Without a roof, it was bound to start having wall problems, it was an opportunity just waiting for a strong wind.
The good news appears to be that the damage was isolated to one section of this larger complex and the remainder of the building does not appear to be insurmountable. Most of the complex does not appear to have major structural problems, at least according to the initial inspection by the structural engineer.”
Without urgent action, the building could be demolished and lost forever. Also hit on April 2 was the Mullanphy Emigrant Home just south in Old North St. Louis.
Photographs taken immediately after the storm struck.