Still Standing? St. Louis and Glasgow Avenues

Update: The corner store was demolished in 2008; the house in the last photo was demolished in November 2013. Many of the other buildings shown have either been demolished or hit hard by brick thieves.. This is still a ridiculous and unnecessary loss. Revised in October 2018 with new links and text. There is a building similar to this one in the Gravois Park neighborhood that was renovated in 2018.

Due to considerable buzz from numerous other blogs on St. Louis architecture, I learned of the impending demolition of a unique ensemble of buildings at the corner of St. Louis Ave and Glasgow Ave in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood. Here is a bird’s eye view of the intersection before demolition began. The intersection’s bizarre angles seem to be the product of the cobbling together of separate additions to the city that had been developed privately with little regard to matching up perfectly. St. Louis Ave is an example of a street that planners “made” out of several old streets.

I was under the impression that all of the buildings on the southeast corner were doomed, but when I arrived on Saturday afternoon, the Italianate corner store was still standing, albeit with all of its windows smashed out and lying in jagged pieces all over the entire corner, with little regard to the safety of children in the area.

In the picture below, the outline of the two devastated neighbors of the corner store survive; the ground has been carefully smoothed and covered with hay–like any grass is going to grow in January. Apparently the corner store is safe for the time being, though it seems to have received immense shock when the attached buildings were knocked down, as evidenced in the shattered windows.

The side of the store building, facing Glasgow Ave, is unadorned, but I can only imagine the amount of light that must have shone into the interior of this building when it was occupied by perhaps the owner of the store below.

The back staircase is a perfect example of building with untreated wood; the support post has literally twisted 360 degrees around and it no longer attached to its footing on the ground. My parents were particularly impressed with the precarious decay of the stairs that seem to be holding on by a thread.

Back to the Italianate detail of the front, public side of the store. The building displays beautiful cast iron elements, such as this well preserved, stylized Ionic column that anchors the corner of the building.

Below is the cornice of the building–which unlike many examples that are slathered in 12+ layers of paint–that appears to be largely untouched by later painting; the details on the pressed tin are crisp and easily readable.

The windows, now missing their sashes, exhibit the fine proportions of Italianate buildings in America, allowing large amounts of light to stream into the building.

On the northeast corner of the same intersection sits a unique storefront that sits on a triangular lot. The building is an excellent example of how to fill a small, irregular lot. It is slightly damaged, and is rather mysteriously missing a rectangular section of masonry between the two upstairs windows.

The next door neighbor, apparently built earlier than the triangular store, is a wonderful Italianate townhouse that looks pretty much abandoned, but not beyond repair. One has to wonder if the owner of the townhouse was not too thrilled to have the storefront go into the lot next to it. Perhaps the house had already become a boarding house by then.

The western corners of the intersection return to larger lots with townhouses and single family homes. The northwest corner is very well preserved, with all of its houses occupied legally.

The southwest corner still has an Italianate rowhouse, but it appears to be abandoned.

One Comment Add yours

  1. john w. says:

    I love the italianate storefront building. I hope plans of demolition change, because even this single piece can provide anchorage for a new cluster of mixed-use buildings around this intersection. Anything new, however, will only be replacing what was not only of historic value but perfectly good mixed-use occupant ready space anyway.

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