Back in April of this year, I wrote of the prospects of saving the Culver House from imminent destruction at the hands of the Saint Louis Symphony and its planned expansion to the east:
“Someone with deep pockets needs to step up, or it will almost certainly be demolished.”
There are now increasingly fewer residential houses left in Grand Center. Here are a few of them here, here, and here. The area is now basically just an amusement park of cultural institutions of various quality sitting amongst huge swaths of parking lots. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the planned residential element that has been talked about for decades–it’s clearly never coming. This isn’t a neighborhood.
I guess it’s pointless for me to spend much time discussing whether the Culver House should have been torn down or not. I suppose it is only fair that the Symphony get its own boring, unremarkable asymmetrical Modernist expansion like all the other cultural institutions in St. Louis. But ultimately this comes down to worrying about the future, and who will be attending performances in ten, twenty and forty years from now.
The new expansion will not improve Symphony attendance, which is the structural problem that is at hand long term. I talk to actual young and middle aged people all the time–the people the Symphony is trying to get through the doors in greater numbers–and none of them say, “Jeez Chris, if the symphony just had a new lobby and more rehearsal space, I would go more.”