Former Wagoner Place Methodist Church, In Ruins

The former Wagoner Place Methodist Church collapsed into a giant pile of rubble, which frankly surprised me. On my first and only previous visit, it looked perfectly fine, and I didn’t see any reason why it would structurally fail so spectacularly.

I guess, looking back at my old photographs, that if you examine the eaves, you realize there were huge yawning openings, which could theoretically allow high winds to blow in and perhaps shift the whole roof, causing it to move enough to come crashing down. But also, and it’s such a great lesson about the challenges of channeling the weight of the roof and vaulting in a church into the ground, I wonder if the exterior walls were too thin and the windows too large and lacking in enough buttressing. The school wing, ironically, had better engaged buttressing than the church. Regardless, it’s a pile of rubble now.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Hans says:

    I don’t live in Stlouis, so I wonder how long the pile of rubble will remain.

  2. W. White says:

    Actually, looking back at your earlier photographs, the signs of structural distress were evident. I did not notice them at the time and would not have predicted imminent collapse, either. The fourth photograph in your previous post shows a crack in the brickwork running from the roof line all the way down out of frame at one of the rounded corners of the church. A structural weakness in the walls at such a key point certainly could have lead to this collapse, especially if extenuated by external forces. Also, photographs five and six show roof sagging immediately adjacent to the tower on both sides. Given that the tower remains intact after the rest of the church’s collapse, it makes me believe that the roof structure was not tied into the tower’s structure very well, if at all. Water infiltration through the roof at those weak points around the tower would have exacerbated that problem.

    All these structural defects are really just water under the bridge and would not have mattered if the church had been well-maintained. Well-maintained buildings do not collapse. Abandoned and neglected buildings collapse. Buildings whose owners do not spend money on essential maintenance and repair collapse.

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