South Side of Crunden-Martin October 2021

It’s been almost exactly a decade since a fire ripped through one of the massive buildings of the Crunden-Martin complex in December of 2011.

I came back in January of 2014, and little had changed since the conflagration except some of the scorch marks had been washed off the outside by the rain.

By August of 2018, however, there was dramatic change, as there was much more light shining through the windows of the upper stories of the building.

As you can see in these new pictures from this last weekend in late October of 2021, there is continued collapse of the wood structural elements of the interior. I cannot see what is happening on the lower floors.

The bridge, which links the fire-damaged building to the main portion of the complex, is perhaps one of the more iconic shots in St. Louis, with the Gateway Arch behind it.

I recently looked at this building again back in June of 2020.

It seems well-secured, but after so many buildings have been destroyed by fire down here, I’m always worried what will happen to all the historic structures.

The shot below is looking up at the fire escape. Why there were none incorporated into the interior is unknown to me; looking at the Anheuser-Busch or Lemp breweries, there are ample interior staircases for egress.

I noticed this beautiful little detail on the corner of the building.

What I love about the area are the little snapshots and view of distant objects and buildings.

There has been some recent demolitions down here, as well. I don’t remember what was here.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Karl Bandow says:

    I can remember driving on the freeway and passing these buildings before the fire, being in awe of their scale and, well, back then, preservation. Heartbreaking to see nothing has been done since. The building that burned could have the shell saved, new floors and roof added, and turned into apartments. The views from inside of downtown have to be staggering, so it is a shame that hasn’t happened… If only I had the money!

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Yes, in general these large industrial buildings were designed to have the floors collapse into the center in a fire to save the exterior walls. I hope the building can be saved, as well.

  2. Joann Garza says:

    My Aunt worked at Crunden Martin from1925-1985, 60 years! She was even written up in the Post Dispatch upon retirement. Every August she would bring us large packages of notebook paper, and every spring she would bring large bundles of kites. She had gotten my father and his 2 brothers jobs there in the 30s, which they left to enlist in WWII. Although I had never been there, it played a large part of my family’s life.

  3. Everett Engbers says:

    There is a pervasive sense of neglect in a region that is so politically divided. Large areas of the city look like a graveyard. You’d think the suburbanites would want to keep the regions central core viable but they are too involved with their little fiefdoms to care about the region’s namesake. Despite new investment in the CWE, many areas of the city remain in ruins and there is no one who proposes a solution. I recently photographed the beautiful facade of the 2nd Baptist Church at ‘Holy Corners’ on a visit there and I just saw last week that the steeple caught fire. Do you know the extent of the damage? I’m sure it was started by homeless breaking into the building, which is another festering social condition that is not addressed.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Stay tuned for a report on Second Baptist later this week.

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