Category Archives: historic office building

Some More Downtown East St. Louis

I’m always amazed by some of the beautiful storefronts on Collinsville Avenue, many featuring terracotta decorative elements that are still in good condition after decades of neglect.

Sadly, the back sides of many of the most elegant buildings in downtown are beginning to fail, and are slowing falling down into piles of concrete and rebar.

Grass lots are replacing what were once businesses, leaving the long sides of building exposed to view.

This house looks like it caught on fire at some point; despite the vinyl siding, I suspect this house is much older.

Also, I will be presenting about the exciting future of St. Louis Patina at 7:00 PM at the Contemporary Art Museum on July 12th, in conjunction with PechaKucha St. Louis. I hope to see you there.

Spivey Building, Revisited

I had the opportunity to photograph the long-suffering Spivey Building, supposedly the tallest building in southern Illinois. You can see previous pictures of the exterior and interior.

I was concerned that there was some new damage to the pediment of the building, but I looked back at old pictures and realized that it has been like that for a while.

The city wants to tear it down, but it has no money to do it. In many ways, it’s sort of an awkward building; individual floors don’t have much square footage, and there’s plenty of room to build new buildings in downtown East St. Louis.

Kansas City Power and Light Building

The Kansas City Power and Light Building was the tallest skysscraper in Missouri for decades, only surpassed by a modernist skyscraper in St. Louis.Its Art-Deco detailing once features a dramatic light show when the building first opened.Hoit, Price and Barnes designed this remarkable building, as well as other buildings around the city.Again, how did St. Louis not get around to building so many tall buildings during this era, even though it was a larger city?

Missouri Pacific Building

Slightly outside of the heart of downtown and not really near any major attraction, the Missoui Pacific Building recently underwent a massive renovation. I’m not happy that what was originally intended to be another condo tower was downgraded into a hideous parking garage, fronting the major north-south axis of downtown; but nonetheless, I am glad that the building was renovated, and if it took the parking garage being built to get it done, then so be it. The parking garage can be replaced with a more elegant structure in the future.

Interestingly, it seems the Missouri Pacific Railroad was once headquartered in one of the buildings demolished for the Gateway Mall.

Note that the builders didn’t sheath the inside wall of the skyscraper; it seems that in the optimistic days of the turn of the century, people were certain that wall would one day be obscured by a skyscraper of similar height.

If only their optimism had come to fruition, we would have possessed a wonderful block of Art-Deco buildings fronting the civic plaza.

I have to admit that the new windows really make the building look great, even if they’re not 100% historically accurate.

The Art-Deco detailing, above on the rampart of the building, and below, in the stunning entrance lobby, are what make this building stand out.

I particularly enjoy how the stone switches to gray on the first floor, highlighting the entrance.

The giant C-scrolls, rife with careful detailing, are a stark contrast to the clean lines of the terracotta white building rising above them.

U.S. Steel Building, Old Empire Brewery

On Sarah, just north of Clayton Avenue and the railroad tracks is this interesting building, decked out with some intriguing ornament.

Currently, a large metal shop sits behind the building, but it is clearly much newer than the tan brick building with wonderful neoclassical details.

The lion heads, most likely in terracotta, give this building its distinctive character. I looked around, and could not figure out what this building was used for, but it may have been the office for the Empire Brewery, which once sat on this site.

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The tell-tale U.S. Steel logo, which is affixed above the front door and most likely is original, points to the history of the building. I suspect that the famous steel company had a factory of some sort here, and the current metal shop is the descendent of the unique office building shown here.