The Preservation Research Office brought to my attention that two unique and threatened buildings are now either demolished or targeted for demolition soon. Above, a lone survivor on Olive Street of both Grand Center’s tony days as the center of wealth in St. Louis, and likewise the area’s decline into low-rent apartments, is slated to be demolished. Taps, where the city disconnects the water main from the service line, are evidenced by the new asphalt patch out front. I featured this building in the past, and I loved the little details, such as how the door on the far right clearly accessed the staircase (made of fragments of the original front arch) that went up to the apartments that the house was surely subdivided. While I was there, a man emerged from the house with a shopping cart full of copper pipes. I didn’t bother to call the police; someone might as well gain meager benefit from the crime of wasteful demolition.
The second house, shown above as it looked earlier this week, was a proud survivor of much destruction on St. Louis Avenue over the years. It matched a previously demolished, and stunning, storefront across the street. I was worried this house was doomed. To nip a common criticism in the bud: no, these two buildings were not for sale by their respective owners, Grand Center, Inc and Northside Regeneration, Paul McKee’s holding company. So no, my building-hugging friends and I couldn’t have bought them and fixed them up ourselves.
What both buildings have in common is owners with no vision, no plan, and no resources to complete any kind of project that would actually help St. Louis. The city does not need any more “blank canvas;” it needs residents, residents that need houses to buy and fix up. Why do so few in power seem to understand this?