Old North St. Louis: "Brickstarter" Campaign Hopes to Save Historic Home

Categories: Architecture

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Courtesy of Old North St. Louis Restoration Group
1316 N. Market in the Old North St. Louis neighborhood.
Old North St. Louis represents one of St. Louis' great success stories in the last twenty years. Once a rapidly declining neighborhood full of blight and abandonment, Old North was one of the few areas of the city to see its population grow in the 2010 census. Located just a fifteen-minute walk from downtown on North Florissant Avenue, the neighborhood has benefited from a resilient population and stalwart businesses such as Crown Candy Kitchen.

See also: Chuck Berry's St. Louis Homes Before He Was Rich and Famous

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Carlie Trosclair: Artist Finds Inspiration in St. Louis' Abandoned and Decaying Buildings

Categories: Architecture

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Courtesy of Carlie Trosclair
Carlie Trosclair, a 2012 RFT MasterMind winner.
Growing up in the architecturally rich and historic city of New Orleans, artist Carlie Trosclair wasn't easily impressed by clean, tidy and new construction. To Trosclair, true architectural beauty lies in the ornate and weathered buildings that rose up in the Crescent City during the 1800s and early twentieth century. It's the same way in St. Louis, where Trosclair has lived since 2008 when she arrived to attend grad school at Washington University.

Last year Trosclair created an installation at 3531 California, a house in south city, that focused on the various layers of wallpaper, paint and dirt that accumulates on and in a century-old house. Now in a new installation at the Contemporary Art Museum (as part of the prestigious Great Rivers Biennial), Trosclair continues to respond to St. Louis' fading architectural glory.

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Central High: Buyer Needed to Save Historic St. Louis School Before It's Too Late

Categories: Architecture

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Except as indicated, all photos by Chris Naffziger
Central High School, at the corner of Garrison and Natural Bridge.

Central High School has seen better days in its 100-year-old history. Boarded up since 2004, the building at the corner of North Garrison and Natural Bridge avenues now shows the signs of almost a decade of abandonment. While many of the vacant schools in the St. Louis Public School District have fallen victim to scavengers, Central High seems to have suffered far more than others with vandals destroying or walking off with its exterior stonework and copper.

One can only wonder how much damage vandals have committed inside the shuttered building. Meanwhile, neighbors and those with a connection to the school can only watch the building's slow-motion destruction.


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Historic Bank Sign That Served as Weather Beacon Saved From Scrapyard

Categories: Architecture

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Except as indicated, all photos by Chris Naffziger
The giant State Bank of Wellston sign, safely removed from its tower.
Another Modernist landmark will soon vanish from St. Louis once wrecking crews complete the demolition of State Bank of Wellston. But at least once piece of the historic bank at Martin Luther King Drive and Kienlan Avenue will live on. Last month preservationist Larry Giles salvaged the building's iconic sign and safely transported the massive structure to his architectural non-profit, St. Louis Building Arts Foundation.

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Three Significant St. Louis Historic Rehabs: Sun Theater, Hammond Apts., 3867 Shenandoah

Categories: Architecture

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All photos by Chris Naffziger
The Sun Theater before renovation, site of Landmarks Association's Most Enhanced Awards.

As director of Landmarks Association of St. Louis, Andrew Weil is often one of the first to learn about the threats facing the city's architectural legacy. Whether it's a historic building demolished due to neglect or development, each loss hurts. Still, Weil and his small staff keep on trudging along, knowing that another red-brick treasure might disappear without their vigilant eyes keeping lookout.

And, thankfully, it's not all gloom and doom over at Landmarks.

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Gyo Obata's Abbey Church: A Modernist Masterpiece in West St. Louis County

Categories: Architecture

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The Abbey Church, Gyo Obata's Modernist masterpiece rising up from the hillside.
Contrary to popular opinion, St. Louis County holds many architectural gems, particularly from the heady years after World War II when the population of the city spread out into the suburbs. Modernist architecture filled the needs of the rapidly growing county, creating a new vision that was distinct from the traditional architecture of the city. Gyo Obata's 1962 Abbey Church of St. Mary and St. Louis, commonly (if somewhat incorrectly) referred to as the Priory, demonstrates the beauty and innovation of Modernist architecture in midcentury St. Louis.

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Will Transformed St. Louis Centre Building Succeed Where Old Mall Failed?

Categories: Architecture

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All photos by Chris Naffziger unless otherwise noted
The Mercantile Exchange at Sixth and Washington, site of the former St. Louis Centre.
When it opened in 1985, St. Louis Centre was to be downtown's remedy to decades of retail business lost to the suburbs. Instead the massive shopping center -- said to be the largest urban mall when it opened in 1985 -- was a tremendous flop. Within a decade of its debut, St. Louis Centre was struggling to keep retailers, and by 2006 the nearly vacant mall shuttered for good.

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Anheuser-Busch's Historic St. Louis Taverns

Categories: Architecture

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All photos by Chris Naffziger
The Bevo Mill, along with other Anheuser-Busch restaurants, tried to make drinking family-friendly.

Anheuser-Busch faced a new threat at the dawn of the twentieth century. For decades, the venerable brewery on Pestalozzi Street had battled rival brewers such as the Lemps, but its new enemy didn't brew beer. Quite to the contrary, the Temperance movement sought the annihilation of beer in St. Louis and the entire country. August Busch correctly predicted that the goal of the anti-alcohol zealots, Prohibition, would prove to be the greatest existential threat to the future of his brewery.


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The Sad End of Bethlehem Lutheran Church

Categories: Architecture

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All photos by Chris Naffziger unless otherwise noted
The sanctuary of Bethlehem Lutheran under demolition.

Demolition crews have been working on the ill-fated Bethlehem Lutheran for the last week, following the collapse of one of its exterior walls. The historic Hyde Park church, which we wrote about back in January, will also cease to exist in the next month. The church has sat vacant for the last 25 years. The congregation that owns the church still exists, but it has shrunk to a fraction of its original size -- from a high of 1,000 regular churchgoers to around 100 today. Maintaining such a massive building with limited financial resources certainly posed a problem for the church, and this article is not an indictment of the congregation's actions. I know they're devastated to see their beloved church come down.


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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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