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Old Factory Coming Down, Old North

The large factory facing Jackson Park in the Old North neighborhood is being demolished. Its walls were weakened by the vibrations from the pile driving caused by the construction of the new pedestrian bridge across Interstate 70 last year. You can see what the factory looked like when I photographed it from the old footbridge back in January of 2014.

Much of what is captured on this sunny day would be destroyed in the fog in the following weeks. It is a loss because nothing will be built here for decades now.

Jackson Park didn’t start out this way. Back in 1876, when Compton and Dry published their Pictorial St. Louis, the middle of the three circular civic spaces was surrounded by Greek Revival and Second Empire houses and institutions. Number 6 was Fourth Baptist (it later moved to another location in the neighborhood), number 9 was J.P. Colby, and on the site of our now-demolished factory was number 11, the Protestant Orphans’ Home.

But by the early Twentieth Century, as this Sanborn Fire Insurance shows, the factories and industrial uses had moved in; there was Peters Shoe Company, and the Peterson Straw Hat Manufacturing Company. I wonder if the latter reused the walls or foundations of the old Orphan Asylum. In fact, I wonder if many of the buildings of the Shoe Company were also cobbled together tenements or houses, as well.

Nonetheless, on the last Saturday of 2019, I went out to see its accelerating demolition. Right after I turned around from taking these two pictures below, I heard a loud rumbling and much of what you see collapsed in a giant pile.

It’s actually a little bizarre for me to go back and look at these photographs. Sorry about the fog in the pictures!

I went around to the other side and ran into a friend who lives down North Market Street, and we watched as more of the wall closest to the viewer was knocked down by the Caterpillar.

What a mess. They are now using a water spray, after being reported for not mitigating the dust cloud spreading lead paint and other debris around the neighborhood.

The street I drove down just a week or two before and took the pictures above is now blocked off. There are two large steel tanks, full of probably heating oil or some other toxic chemical, lying on the pavement.

5 Comments

  1. “Shoe Company were also cobbled together”

    Way to work that in!! Did you even know you did it?

  2. I walked by that building many times after Mass at old St. Michael’s. The nuns would lead us to school at St. Michael’s 0n 11th and Clinton.

    • Wow, that’s so interesting! Do you remember what the building was used for when you walked by? And what sort of memories do you have of St. Michael’s? I know it was sadly demolished for I-70, correct?

  3. Saw this building many times while I was stationed in St Louis (2009-2015). It was in poor shape all those years, and looking on Google Maps, it only got worse after I left. The north side saddened me a lot. Gorgeous old buildings so heavily neglected.

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