Marine Villa Preservation Board South St. Louis

Old Carnival Supply Buildings Return to the Preservation Board

by Michael R. Allen

The two buildings at 3924 and 3928 South Broadway may look like a contrasting pair. One makes a robust display of unpainted, unaltered brick work that includes many patterns. The other building’s front wall is covered in metal paneling, and its side elevation is caked in old paint. Separated by Alberta Avenue, these two buildings were the long-time home of St. Louis Carnival Supply.

Now, these corner anchors sit vacant. This summer, the present owner, KOBA LP, tried to persuade the city’s Preservation Board to permit demolition of both buildings so that the owner could expand the parking lot of an adjacent strip mall where a Grace Hill clinic is located. In August, the Preservation Board voted to deny both demolitions on a preliminary basis. Now, KOBA LP returns with a proposal to demolish the metal-clad building and retain the other.

The city’s Cultural Resources Office (CRO) does not accept the compromise. In a report to the Preservation Board for the Monday, December 21 meeting, the CRO recommends denial of both permits. CRO maintains that the metal-clad building is likely intact under the siding and its appearance could be restored. Furthermore, loss of the building would alter the nearly-intact Alberta Avenue street scape.

CRO is right. The building at 3924 S. Broadway is obviously worth rehabilitation, and the owner’s earlier attempt to demolish it made no sense. However, the other building may be just as obvious a candidate for preservation once the metal siding is removed (an easy preliminary step). Perhaps KOBA LP will have evidence to dispel CRO’s recommendation, but without removing the siding any argument merely will be a good guess.

The Preservation Board meets Monday, December 21 at 4:00 p.m. in the 12th floor conference room at 1015 Locust Street downtown. Testimony may be submitted via e-mail to Adona Buford at

One reply on “Old Carnival Supply Buildings Return to the Preservation Board”

My grandfather is the gentleman that opened St. Louis Carnival Supply, and the business kept over a dozen families with work for over 50 years. I myself worked there for 25 years. It is with great sadness that I see that the buildings that my father took so much pride in maintaining have fallen by the wayside. The alderman used to say that our business was the brightest spot on all of South Broadway. The first owner, a man by the name of Abelyn, had a tobacco store here and was murdered right on the sidewalk there by the store entrance. The warehouses had the original plumbing in them along with several claw foot tubs. Most people only saw our beautiful and unique showroom but the unseen parts were just as interesting. The steel clad front was added by my dad who wanted the store to stand out and have an updated look. I could go on and on and welcome anyone to ask questions.

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