The Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation is calling for nominations for its Historic Places in Peril for 2019. Nominations are due August 15. Anyone interested in Missouri preservation should call for a building or site that is at risk of destruction. The Places in Peril lists are something I have always loved. They often go beyond what is considered historic buildings or structures. There are many reasons why a site could be in danger. These include fire, neglect or abandonment, development pressures, and insensitive proposed modifications. The properties don’t have to be on any national, state, or local list of historic places.
To submit a nomination online, or to ask questions, call 660-882-5944. Below is my list of endangered buildings and other places in the region, broken down into broad categories.
The Churches of North St. Louis
In the past twelve years of documenting St. Louis’ built environment, I have noticed a worrying trend in North St. Louis. Its churches are being demolished. The large, massive Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches that were built in the 1960s and 1970s underwent white flight. They were then handed over to African-American congregations who cared for them for many decades. Many of these congregations have been closing down or moving to North County in the new millennium. It has been a sad sight to see these beautiful structures fall into disrepair, and in some cases, be attacked by vandals and scrappers. These landmarks are unlikely to see new life in the long term as they are surrounded by empty neighborhoods. Although I am hesitant to reveal the exact location of these churches as they are all around me, it is important to not draw attention to them. These churches are a sign of bigger problems for North St. Louis in the future. Their loss is a tragedy to the historic architecture of St. Louis.
South St. Louis
This one is a little too Chicken Little for me, but it’s better if you get it out sooner than later. Washington University students asked me how to create equitable neighborhoods a few weeks back. I replied that our ancestors had given us at least some of the answers: Build houses and apartments of different sizes and price points right next to one another on the same block. You’ll be amazed at the Dutchtown mansions next to the four-family flats and the three-story Second Empire homes next to the 1,000-square foot one-story bungalows.
Recently, however, I noticed a worrying trend. Those 1000-square-foot bungalows no longer are considered “marketable” or desirable. They’re disappearing in trendy neighborhoods near Tower Grove Park. One day, a construction dumpster appears; all of the house’s interior, including the roof, is stuffed into it. It’s like H.G. The walls of the brick house are engulfed by Wells’ War of the Worlds. A second-story, ugly, vinyl-clad monster rises from the walls. A Second Empire roof is placed on the front of the house, giving it a Postmodern look. Although I was told that I should always welcome redevelopment, there is still a demand beautiful, quality houses in St. Louis. They don’t have to be lost to this new ugly trend in house flipping.
Falstaff Plant No. Falstaff Plant No.
The corner of Shenandoah & Lemp has been home to beer since the 1860s. However, Falstaff closed its last St. Louis brewery in 1977 and the historic brewhouse was left empty. Plant No. 10 is occupied by light industry and an indoor skate park, while much of the remaining space is occupied by plant workers. The rest of Plant No. 10 is used for light industry and an indoor skating park. However, the northeast corner, which was built in the 1890s, is struggling. If the stock house is to be preserved for another century, its north wall, which faces Shenandoah has developed a visible bulge. This area is a significant landmark in the history and brewing of St. Louis. The Griesedieck Brothers owned the complex before the Falstaff branch of Griesedieck, who was the last local family that brewed beer on this site. Otto Stumpf was the business partner to William Lemp Sr. and brewed beer together with the famous brewing family heir. He inherited his father’s business on Cherokee Street and the Levee. The cave is preserved under the streets. Local historians call it the Consumers’ Beer House. You can still feel the cold air rising through the sidewalk’s vents during summer. It is often easy to forget that the Anheuser Busch and Lemp breweries remain intact. Losing another would be a tragedy.