Sunday, August 21, 2005

Can You Please Spare Some Change

From an entry on Mayor Slay's Blog dated August 21, 2005-

For the last year, the City’s Cultural Resources Office has repeatedly blocked the demolition of two wooden buildings in the Hyde Park Local Historic District. The buildings, at 4242 and 4244 N 19th Street, belong to the LRA because they were abandoned by their owners years ago. No one has expressed the slightest interest in them since LRA acquired them. They are very small – one story, one bedroom. They lack basements.

They have, though, some history. They were, according to the CRO, built in 1894 and 1896, a time when frame houses were more common in Hyde Park and in other City nabes. But, most of the other wooden structures from the period have been lost due to the relatively fragile nature of their construction. These two, though, remain.

They are, undoubtedly, eyesores. They are full of termites, which they are spreading throughout the block. They attract vagrants and worse. Their condition adversely affects the well maintained properties on the block. Both the neighbors and the alderman want them demolished. They have asked the Preservation Board to allow that to happen.

Unless someone with a checkbook and a viable plan shows up before the meeting, I suspect that demos will be authorized.

The Preservation Board will meet tomorrow, August 22nd, at the SLDC, 1015 Locust. The meeting starts at 4 pm.

While I have never seen the structures in question (other than an aerial on the city website), I believe they are worth restoring, simply for their uniqueness, nevermind their historical value. They are different, and that is what I like about them. The houses are from a different era than almost everything else in the city. Most old houses in the city are of solid brick construction, these are frame construction. But I also think cleaning up the vacant lots that I saw in the aerial would have a biggere effect on the property values than demolishing 2 houses. Demolition isn't always the answer. Too bad I don't have the money to step up.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mixed Feelings in South City

Ahrens Demolition and Excavation recently started demolishing the formerly City owned Truman Restorative Center on Arsenal just east of Hampton. The site will be turned into a new subdivision of 36 single family homes, and 22 villas. I am certainly happy to see the investment in the area, and I welcome the new residents, but I can't help feeling that this could have been better.

First, The Truman Center was a cool building in it's own way. If it was in the middle of downtown, I don't know if I would care for it, but in it's context, I really like it. Why couldn't the large open areas of land around it be developed, and the current building be renovated for condos or apartments? I understand that may not be completely feasible, but why can't we at least have something a little better than a suburban development plopped down in the city.

This brings me to my second point. What is the obsession in St. Louis of putting brick fronts on otherwise completely siding houses. Who are developers trying to fool? The brick stands out like a sore thumb. Or is it the vinyl? I guess it's the whole mess of materials. Whatever it is, it should not be done. Image hosted by Photobucket.comOne material or the other. Vinyl can look good if it is covering the entire house, and the house has the correct architectural style. Likewise, brick should cover an entire house when it is used on the front. I curently split my time at work between a beautiful urban location on Grand by Carondolet Park and (shudder) Arnold. While the Arnold/Imperial area has some atrocious suburban abominations, I have noticed many new houses out there that are completely brick. If developers can do it in Arnold, why can't we build all brick houses in the city? The new homes will also have garages in the front with driveways. Hopefully the shrines to SUV's will not be used as the main architectural feature on the front of the houses.

I guess only time will tell how this development goes, but it's not a good start. Homes starting in the $290's should be nicer.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Hi, I'm Matt Fernandez. Welcome to my new companion project to I plan to use this blog to show how St. Louis is continuing to evolve, for better or worse. I plan to also use it to promote events in the city, spread good news about the city I love, and maybe sometimes just make a random post. This should be an interesting ride, mainly finding out if I continue to update this, so stick around.