Category Archives: rehabilitation

More McRee Town

Much of the rest of McRee Town sits abandoned, with the potential for more redevelopment.

I particularly like the house with the tan front and the red brick side walls; it would make a great rehab one day.

The two mirrored apartment buildings give the effect of one larger building.

I always like alley dwellings such as this one, because so many of them have been torn down. It would make a great garage and artist’s studio combination.

The Rebirth of McRee Town

I’m interrupting my tour of Kansas City architecture because I was so excited to see the recent developments in McRee Town, which for a long was one of the most troubled neighborhoods in the city.

Combining sensitive in-fill with the conversion of four-family flats into two houses and the renovation of other notable single family houses, the Botanical Grove redevelopment is doing everything right that has so often been done wrong in St. Louis.

For starters, pre-existing homeowners were not run out of their homes with eminent domain arranged with corrupt officials in smoky backrooms.

Secondly, the remaining housing stock was renovated into viable real estate, and priced at market rates.

Finally, the in-fill housing is very cool; it doesn’t try to pretend it was built in the Nineteenth century, is unashamedly modern, but the massing and materials match the neighborhood and city.

If the first phase on McRee Avenue is successful, it will spread to other streets, and hopefully the rest of the city.

Falstaff Brewery Plant Five, Former Columbia Brewery

Surely the former Columbia Brewery, late renamed Falstaff Brewery Plant Five, must have always dominated the St. Louis Place neighborhood.

With the incredible amount of demolition in the area, it now rises out of what almost looks like a meadow, taller than the remaining houses by over a hundred feet.

The Romanesque Revival brewery sits right on the property line at the sidewalk, with elegant renovated houses across the street framing the complex.

And of course, there’s the massive smokestack with the Falstaff logo nailed to the giant stack, which may be one of the largest brewery smokestacks in the city.

It’s a massive fortress like structure, and I wonder if the beer barons, many of whom were born in Germany, were actively attempting to evoke the architecture of the powerful in their homeland.

The brewery is just as impressive as I remember when I saw the building for the first time up close several years ago.

I love the use of terracotta accents that are combined with cut limestone and red brick. These are not simple utilitarian structures, but statements of the power of the beer industry in St. Louis history.

Please visit this great Falstaff Beer site, where I learned most of my information about the old brewing company. Also, I want to thank Andrew Weil, director of the Landmarks Association of St. Louis, for additional information.

Falstaff Brewery Plant One, Former Forest Park Brewery

Falstaff Beer, once brewed and bottled in over ten locations around the United States, including four plants in St. Louis, has a long tradition going back to the Lemps. The old Forest Park Brewery, where the Griesedieck family began producing Falstaff after buying the brand from the Lemps during Prohibition, was one of two breweries where beer was distributed to the public after Prohibition ended. Falstaff never built a brewery in St. Louis, but bought up old defunct breweries instead.

The offices are now again a brewery called Six Row Brewery.

I never looked very closely at this building, driving by on Forest Park Avenue, but it actually is fairly interesting, and upon closer inspection had the massing and accoutrements of many other more well-known breweries in the city.

After Faltstaff began brewing beer at larger facilities, this brewery changed to a bottle shop and plant.

Forest Park Avenue has many such old industrial uses, and the Falstaff Brewery is one such great example.

Please visit this great Falstaff Beer site, where I learned most of my information about the old brewing company.

Old North St. Louis, Late Afternoon

Yes, you can relax in North St. Louis without worrying about getting shot by drug dealers. I took these two photos while enjoying the waning hours of sunlight with some friends outside of the La Mancha Coffeehouse, which I encourage you to visit the next time you’re in the Old North neighborhood.

City Hospital Power Plant, Reinvisioned

I can’t say enough positive words about the renovation of the old City Hospital power plant into a bouldering facility, envisioned by two brothers and I think some of their friends.

Left as a ruin when the City Hospital was abandoned, the power plant is a landmark on the near south side.

The interior, while stripped of the bulky boilers that once filled the room, still contains some nice elements alluding to its industrial past, such as a giant gantry crane that still hangs over the lobby.

Below you can see several angles of the artificial “rock wall” that climbers can now tackle in the renovated space.