What I try to convey to people about the built environment in St. Louis is not just simply the aesthetic quality of its architecture, but the fascinating stories behind each building. Take the German Freethinkers’ Hall on St. Louis Place Park, which has apparently suffered a severe, catastrophic collapse recently.
Building permits were being pulled as late as 2003 for conversion of the building into a daycare, but from what it seems, it never came to fruition and the building collapsed recently.
What a shame, as the building taught me about the Freethinkers, a idealistic group that popped up in the Nineteenth Century that fought for social justice throughout Europe and America. This group, much like the Turners, was a key part of the German history of the neighborhood, which has seen many major ethnic groups pass through its streets and alleys for the last 150 years.
Look at that cool porch; this building dated back to the mid-Nineteenth Century, and this unique porch demonstrates a style of design that long ended in St. Louis. Now it will end up in a scrap heap in Illinois, most likely. St. Louis Place really is one of our last links to the years of our history right after the Civil War, and its built memory is rapidly disappearing.