Update: The building was completely demolished and the site is now a vacant lot.
I’ll be honest; I haven’t followed the issues surrounding the ongoing fight to demolish this lovelorn commercial building at the corner of Page and Union boulevards over the last couple of years. When I went up to photograph the building on Friday, it was only the second time I had even seen the building.
What is striking to me about this building is not necessarily its architecture, which is unique, with inset bay windows alternating with pilasters on the second floor, but rather the pastiche of various mom and pop stores that occupied the building over the years. They represent a rich history of commercial activity that once anchored this corner of the West End.
Something’s fishy, including the fact that demolition most likely began before actually obtaining a demolition permit.
The backside of the building is gone, most likely illegally demolished, or perhaps the natural decay was accelerated through the removal of windows or roofs. The building is trashed on the interior, but well within the realm of being viable for rehabilitation. From what I’ve heard, though, no one will have the opportunity.
While preservation efforts often focus on the more “well-traveled” parts of the city such as Downtown or the South Side and the Central West End or even the area within the clutches of the McKee plan, I am worried that the less well documented areas of the North Side west of Grand will slowly and silently slip away as attention is turned elsewhere. Much of Wells-Goodfellow, the West End and Walnut Park are in the same stages of urban deconstruction that faced JeffVanderLou, St. Louis Place or Hyde Park thirty years ago. Thirty years from now, will that huge swath of land west of Grand, south of I-70, north of Delmar and east of the city limits be the target of yet another wacky, silent attempted conquest as is now unfolding further east? I hope not.