A Disheartening Sight

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Update: Urban Assets is now defunct, and the property has a new owner. This house was part of a development known as Fout Place, which is now its own tag where you can view all of the times I’ve visited this street.

Every so often, I see a house that’s abandoned, falling apart, and I realized that it is irreplaceable, and one of a kind. The grand house at Cook and Whittier is one such house, and its sad decline has been going on for at least a decade. It was built in 1892 and is now owned by the shadowy real estate holding company Urban Assets. I really love what they’ve done with the place.

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What is really great about this house is how it anchors its intersection; viewed from either the front or side, it looks like a complete composition. In fact, it’s hard to say there really is a front or side, but rather two fronts.

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I particularly find this front window intriguing; it almost looks like it is supposed to mimic a front door, but yet I don’t think it ever was.

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I don’t know whether to call this eclectic, or even a little Romanesque Revival; it is ambiguous, like so many of the grand homes in St. Louis.

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The turret is really wonderful; you could imagine stepping out on the second floor porch and looking down the street on a cool evening.

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The Tuscan columns are starting to crumble, unfortunately.

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The roof is a complete disaster, and I can only assume that water is pouring into the house when it rains. The chimney, which was present in earlier photos, is now gone.

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You can see sky through the roof now, through the slate shingles.

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The front door is still intact, replete with more Tuscan columns; I can only imagine what it was like originally.

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At most, we can now hope the columns end up at a salvage yard instead of the landfill.

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The original woodwork is still intact, but covered with a thick layer of paint; I would suspect it was originally stained.

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My, even the back of the house is stately. It’s a shame the house’s rehab attempt earlier last decade failed; yes, someone tried to fix it up but were blocked from their goal.

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. samizdat says:

    I think there was indeed a front porch, fronting on Cook. I will note the large, perhaps single, piece of limestone below what you refer to as the window. In addition, you will notice the rather clumsy mortar work on either side of the arch, which to me indicates that a porch structure existed here at one time. The window at the basement level of the turret was probably sealed up with the remnants of the Cook porch. As well, there are anchors over this doorway, all that is left of what was once, very likely, a most impressive canopy, probably composed of cast iron and glass. The Whittier entrance was probably reserved for tradesmen, grocers, the household servants, and the like, as the kitchen and pantry would have been to the left, facing the Whittier elevation. And the coal was delivered to the sandstone-sealed window/chute below. (Although I do notice a doorway hidden in the weeds just ‘aft’ of the dining room window, which itself is to the left of the side entrance; note the short concrete retaining wall). I’m also surprised the turret scupper lead liner is still intact.

    A very impressive house, one whose like we will not see again.

  2. casey f. ryback says:

    What a sad story. Organizations like Urban Assets those under Paul McKee’s umbrella are a cancer on this city.

  3. Rusty says:

    What a grand beautiful home this had to have been back in the day. Thanks very much for posting this. After reading your article, I found a link on the web…. preservationresearh.com/category/urban-assets…….that gives some additional history about the house. Very interesting. Thanks again.

  4. Ann says:

    I hate seeing formerly beautiful buildings decaying. Why can’t more people keep them/renovate them?

  5. Drew says:

    one of your saddest posts in a while…

  6. GoGo says:

    Is there a web site that would tell me of former owners. We have family from st. Louis that lived in a grand home and would love to see a picture. Thank you

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      You would need to go down to City Hall; prior owners are only listed on-line going back ten years or so.

  7. Shawn says:

    So very sad to see houses like this just rot and decay. This a part of our history. We need to take care of it.

  8. elliot says:

    Updatea: the property now shows as being owned by the City, so if you have the wherewithal to renovate such a beauty they’d probably sell it to you for cheap.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      The LRA is a nightmare to work with. I know a woman who had to spend $10,000 fixing up a house before the City would sell it to her. True story.

  9. Eva Christou says:

    As a lover of old, abandoned houses I first pinned this picture, intending to ‘find out more’ about it later. It’s only because so many other people have shown an interest in this photo, and repinned it that has intrigued me into indeed finding out more. I’ve read who owned it in the last decade and how they weren’t able to fulfil their dream. So sad. I d love to find out more information.

  10. First time I saw this article; somehow I must have missed it . I have never seen this home before, and it is indeed sad to see it as is. I wonder if it is still standing, since the most recent post was in 2015.
    I think it would cost a fortune to restore, and not many could afford to do it.

  11. Roger Richard says:

    Beautiful structure would like to find more info about that place

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Here’s a bit more about it:

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