3,999 posts ago, I started this website, back in May of 2007 (the twelfth anniversary is coming up in a couple of months), and while technically a few posts have been deleted for various reasons due to redundancy, or whatnot, I thought it might be interesting to check in on what has happened to the various buildings I photographed all of those thousands of posts ago, and what is happening to those spaces today.
Switzer Candy Factory
The Switzer Building on Laclede’s Landing was damaged by high winds, and while the famous candy factory had moved out years before, it still apparently sent people into a panic, flooding the company’s phones with frantic calls about the status of their favorite licorice. Laclede’s Landing’s urban fabric is heavily compromised; it’s more parking lots than historic buildings, and from what I understand, there’s a new plaza going in where at least a portion of the old buildings once stood. We need another urban plaza like a hole in our heads. I think the future of the area revolves as a normal urban neighborhood with apartments, condos, offices, shops and restaurants–and not as some sort of entertainment district. Hopes for some sort of Beale Street have failed, and I think it should be a notable but pleasant quarter next to downtown.
The Forest Park Gasometer was almost completely gone when I photographed it, and within a couple of years, all of the historic gasometers in the metropolitan region would be torn down. The site has been filled with complete, total suburban-style crap that will probably be torn down in the next thirty years. Just wait; trust me. The Grove has transformed dramatically in the last twelve years, so much so that I barely recognize it anymore. As someone supposedly said, it’s so crowded now that nobody goes there anymore, including me.
Front vs. Back, Revisited
At long last, the beautiful Adler and Sullivan Union Trust Building was brought out of abandonment, and converted into a boutique hotel. While I wish that St. Louis real estate was more valuable that a parking lot would not be the best use of the lot that still sits to its north, I am very happy it is now back in use. I like the balconies on the north wall, which has brought life to the faded trompe l’oeil mural that had badly faded in twelve years. But my post from the first month of this website shows something that has not changed on the backside: the continued, embarrassing abandonment of the Chemical Building. Every so often another scheme comes along, but they all seem to fall through.
Winterset, Iowa, Revisited
Early on, with my visit to Winterset, Iowa in 2007, I established that I would not be exclusively featuring St. Louis, and that I would compare and contrast other parts of America and Europe with the Gateway City’s built environment. When I went back to Winterset in 2013, I discovered they had restored and repainted the dome. I don’t know if I necessarily like the new paint scheme, as I felt the old one matched the limestone or sandstone of the building better. These cities and places can be viewed in the Further Afield category.
Old North, Revisited
Old North is still, all these years later, one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city, and it is still chugging along with revitalization, despite being completely ignored by politicians. The beautiful renovation of the 14th Street Mall was completed several years ago, but just single rehabs, one by one, are what is also bringing this neighborhood back. When regular people are given the tools to succeed, and are not held back in favor of big grandiose plans such as the Northside TIF, real change can happen. The mural above, which I photographed back before I even moved back from the East Coast, has faded, but is still there. Below is a rehabbed building on 14th Street.
Transitions, New and Old, Revisited
When I first moved back to St. Louis, the mighty Syndicate Trust Building was still vacant, and its poor older neighbor the Century Building had just been ignominiously demolished for a parking garage, which is now being poorly maintained. But now, it is beautiful, though sadly, the downtown retail market is so sluggish that I believe that some of its first and second floor spaces still sit empty years after being renovated.
Ugly Curtains, Revisited
Hello. Just found a photo of my house on your blog and thought you might like to know how it changed my perception of my home. When I saw the photo, I was stunned to see how awful it looked with the drapes drawn and the screens mismatched. You’ll be happy to know that I have since removed the screens and I open the drapes to give the house a much more friendly look. I would have never noticed these errors without your help. As for being orphaned…well, that’s a major reason we chose this house. A short dead-end street makes it very easy to know when something, or someone is out of place. Easier to keep the street clean too. Come by during the holidays when the Christmas lights are up!
I received this comment on the original post on these houses left behind by the construction of Interstate 44. I am not sure if the same owner still lives there or not, but it has undergone a major transformation, with yet another set of curtains, I would imagine, and is now available for purchase (though they still need to restore the cornice!). That is what this website is all about: getting people to see St. Louis from a different perspective that they might not have seen before.