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The Spivey Building: East St. Louis' First and Only Skyscraper

Categories: Architecture

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Christina Rutz via Flickr
The Spivey Building in downtown East St. Louis.
East St. Louis, Illinois, doesn't appear in many architectural guidebooks, but it should. Located just across the river from downtown St. Louis, the city boasts some of the most interesting architecture in the whole region. While much of the city's building stock has fallen victim to neglect and demolition, parts of East St. Louis' downtown remains intact, awaiting the day when prosperity returns to the city and the abandoned buildings find new use. Hopefully that day will come before the wrecking ball does.

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UMSL's Short-Sighted Plan to Demolish a St. Louis Landmark: Incarnate Word Convent

Categories: Architecture

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All photos by Chris Naffziger
The University Libraries on UMSL's campus.
Last week, I examined the 200-year history of the Normandy and Bel-Nor area and its critical link to St. Louis' charitable and architectural legacy. Those proud institutions received a new neighbor just over 50 years ago with the addition of the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) campus. Built on the grounds of the former Bellerive Country Club, UMSL's professors held the school's first classes in the clubhouse. As finances improved, new buildings began to rise on the rolling land of the former golf course.


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Photographer Captures Scenes of St. Louis' Decay, Rebirth Six Years Apart

Categories: Architecture

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Photos by Eric Fogleman
Six years later, the tree remains.
A lot can change in six years.

That's especially true for the historic and traditional brick buildings that cover St. Louis, where just six years can mean the difference between rehabilitation and total ruin.


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The "Castles" of Normandy and Bel-Nor

Categories: Architecture

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All photos by Chris Naffziger
Incarnate Word Cemetery with St. Vincent's in the distance.

One hundred years ago, if you were traveling out northwest just past St. Louis city limits toward St. Charles, you would see a landscape dramatically different than today's suburbia along the St. Charles Rock and Natural Bridge roads. Rolling countryside and farm fields would yield to an impressive sight; one after another, Renaissance and Gothic castles would rise in front of you. From the late nineteenth century to the the present day, this corner of St. Louis County held the great charitable institutions that served the destitute and mentally ill of the burgeoning population of the city to the east. Believing that country air and solitude would aid in their missions, each institution constructed grandiose buildings, believing that great architecture could aid them in literally creating great people.


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St. Louis Originals: The Churches of the South Side

Categories: Architecture

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Photos by Chris Naffziger
The tower of St. Francis de Sales

After my article about north St. Louis churches, many readers contacted me and asked if I could do a follow up focusing on south St. Louis churches. I realized there are dozens of churches that could fit in this space based on just their sheer beauty, but in the end I decided to focus on churches that for the most part are tucked away on relatively quiet back streets, far from the interstates where commuters fly by every day to and from the city. They are neighborhood anchors, giving names to local businesses and nonprofits, and providing a sense of continuity and tradition in many neighborhoods that have seen rapid upheaval in the last twenty years.


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Mullanphy Emigrant Home: North St. Louis Landmark Slowly Returning to Glory

Categories: Architecture

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The Mullanphy Emigrant Home stabilized, today.
Everyone loves a great lost cause. In 2007, RFT named the efforts to save the Mullanphy Emigrant Home as the "Best Lost Cause" of the year. Coming around on seven years later, the Mullanphy has stood proud, battered by dozens of brutal storms as ferocious as the one that toppled its southern wall years ago. But the future of this 150-year-old building building has perhaps never looked so good.

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Cherokee Street's Cinderella Building Finds Its Prince Charming

Categories: Architecture

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Photo: Melinda Stewart and Will Liebermann
The Cinderella debuted as a skating rink in 1913 and later served as a movie theater.
The Cinderella Building proudly sits in the middle of the booming Cherokee Street shopping district just west of Jefferson Avenue. It is easily one of the largest buildings around and continues to host a variety of businesses on its first floor. Continuously occupied since its construction, the once grand building underwent a misguided "enhancement" decades ago that defaced its architecturally significant fa├žade. Enter now Will Liebermann, the Cinderella's current owner, who is working to return the building to its original glory.


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Support Grows to Save Lewis & Clark Library

Categories: Architecture

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Photos: Lindsey Derrington and ModernSTL
Stained-glass window from Lewis & Clark Library.
Mid-century modernist architecture sits at the crossroads in St. Louis. It is reaching the age where many of its detractors consider it obsolete, a relic not attuned to the needs of present-day society. Meanwhile, the average American sees this period of architecture with a mix of suspicion or indifference. And at the nexus sits the Lewis & Clark Library, a branch of the St. Louis County Library system. In the year since its proposed demolition, public support to preserve the library has grown throughout the region, from residents who have patronized the library for decades to modernist-architecture fans born long after its construction.

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The Threat to Historic African-American Music Venues in St. Louis

Categories: Architecture

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All photos by Chris Naffziger
The Castle Ballroom
The contribution and influence of African-American artists to the St. Louis sound and the universal music scene is undeniable. From Scott Joplin to Chuck Berry and countless others, St. Louisans have helped define what ragtime, jazz, the blues and rock 'n' roll are today. Scattered around the city, the ballrooms, clubs and theaters where these musicians cut their teeth still stand, but many are now in danger of disappearing forever.

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Castle Ballroom: Wind-Damaged and Long Empty, Landmark Faces Demolition (PHOTOS)

Categories: Architecture

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All photos by Lynn Josse
An interior shot of the now-decrepit dance floor within the Castle Ballroom
The end is near for the Castle Ballroom.

Located at 2839 Olive Street, the music and dance hall that once hosted jazz greats Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Miles Davis faces imminent demolition.

"The Castle Ballroom was a casualty of two weather catastrophes," says Eddie Roth, deputy chief of staff to Mayor Francis Slay, explaining that wind storms severely damaged the exposed load-bearing truss system holding up its roof. After the second storm partially collapsed the roof in November, the city had no choice but to issue an emergency condemnation, Roth says.

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