I checked up on this architectural treasure, the type of building that is no longer built, last summer, and this spring it is evident that it continues to deteriorate. I hope somehow it can be saved before it collapses, which is a fate that is not far off.
One Comment Add yours
The issue with this building, as with so many buildings in St. Louis (and all around this country) is not “can” this building be saved but “will” someone save this building. Many historic buildings that appear to be in irreparable condition are not past the point of no return; they remain structurally sound and could be repaired. The problem is that when buildings reach the condition of this one, they require a larger amount of money to repair, putting such repair out of reach for members of the public, leaving large real estate developers as the only ones able to invest that amount of money; they are usually wary of putting investing so much in such a risky project, when the return is uncertain. Historic preservationists need to become much more proactive about saving buildings, not waiting until the eleventh hour when roofs are collapsing and there is nothing left of the interior. This building could have been restored a decade ago with a (comparably) minor investment: it retained its roof, framing, and some interior elements and had not been damaged by fire. Now…well, I do not believe someone could claim this building retains any of those things.
The question is how can historic preservationists become more proactive in saving historic buildings. The eleventh hour approach, frankly, does not work. I have seen it too many times, and it succeeds so rarely. When it does, the only think left to save of the building is usually just some brick walls. I appreciate that gut renovations are all the rage among people who “restore” buildings, but that is not true historic preservation. Brick walls alone do not comprise a historic building, what about the windows, decorative trim, mantelpieces, stairs, plasterwork, etc.; all just as integral to a building’s historic fabric as brick and terra cotta. But those features are usually lost if a building is allowed to sit, vacant and deteriorating, for years. Historic preservationists need to start applying efforts to save these buildings when they become vacant and not after they sit for years, losing historic features and requiring more money to restore. It becomes much harder to do so when working against intransigent owners and ineffective government entities, but it is the only way large numbers of historic buildings can be effectively and economically saved.
Anyway, time to step off my soapbox.