Cherokee Street's Cinderella Building Finds Its Prince Charming

Categories: Architecture

Photo by Chris Naffziger
The Cinderella Building freed from its renovations.

Liebermann, along with his designer Melinda Stewart and right-hand man Andrey Gura, have begun the arduous process of returning the façade to its original design. The first step, the removal of the white tiles which had scarred the front for decades, finished in late 2013. Sadly, their removal revealed that much of building's original decoration had been chiseled prior to the addition of the tiles.

Photo by Chris Naffziger
The Cinderella's facade revealed, showing intact and damaged original terra cotta.
Now, Liebermann and Gura are taking casts of original ornamentation that did survive in order to re-create lost architectural details. Craftsmen will then take the casts and use them to create reproductions of the original terracotta detailing. Finally, in the coming months, the new replacement terra-cotta ornamentation will replace the damaged or missing tiles on the façade. Historic photographs of the building provide clues of the building's original appearance as well.

Photo courtesy of Melinda Stewart and Will Liebermann
Andrey Gura makes a cast of original terrac otta on the Cinderella Building.

Photo courtesy of Melinda Stewart and Will Liebermann
Will Liebermann and Gura examine newly cast replacement terra cotta.
For what it's worth, I am not a universal proponent of slavishly returning every building in this city back to its original appearance. Particularly on Cherokee Street, the interesting mishmash of different store fronts with early and mid-20th century renovations on 19th century buildings lends much of the charm to the street. Each storefront tells a story, and to remove them all would erase much of the history of Cherokee. But when such additions do not age well or detract from the original beauty of the building, as in the case of the Cinderella Building, I completely support renovations that return a building back to a more cogent and intact state. The current renovations of the Cinderella Building will restore some sense of the original glamor of the original structure. That's a good thing.

Please join me for a lecture on the legacy of the great American architect Louis Sullivan in St. Louis at 11 a.m. on Thursday or 6 p.m. on Friday at the Saint Louis Art Museum

Chris Naffziger writes about architecture at St. Louis Patina. Contact him via e-mail at

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