Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Benton School - Kingshighway & St. Louis Avenue


With the impending adoption of a new Facilities Management Plan the St. Louis Public School system I thought it would be appropriate to dig up another example of a senseless SLPS school building demolition from my archives.


The Benton School was located at the southwest corner of Kingshighway and St. St. Louis Avenues. The site is now surface parking for All Saints Episcopal Church which is one block south. In July 1996 the school was condemned for demolition and a permit was issued in September. I am not sure who owned the school building at the time.


As you can see from the photos, there was some roof damage and some isolated masonry damage on the south wall, but overall, the structure was in fairly decent shape. Its appearance was no worse than City Hospital on Lafayette prior to its restoration. Like the hospital, it was apparent that metal dormers and gutters had been stripped from the building by scrap thieves which likely accelerated deterioration.


Benton School was very similar to the Harrison School which as Eco-Absence reported in December is slated for rehabilitation as affordable rental apartments. The buildings, both of which were designed by architect August H. Kirchner, share the same entrance features and well as almost identical massing and fenestration.


Ironically, Harrison School had been vacant since 1996, the same year as the demise of Benton School. Another long abandoned school, the Grant School (1993-2005) was successfully rehabbed as affordable apartments by Cohen-Esrey. More information is available here on their site.


The lesson here is that regardless of the circumstances, another beautiful rehab-able school building was senselessly demolished and replaced with surface parking. The new Facilities Management Plan needs to have stipulations that will prevent the future destruction of these irreplacable landmarks.


The following is from the SLPS website:

St. Louis — The Special Administrative Board of the St. Louis Public Schools will hear recommendations by MGT of America, Inc. on the future use of district schools during the board meeting on Thursday, January 29, 6:00 p.m., at Vashon High School, 3035 Cass Ave.

All community members are invited to attend this open meeting to hear this much-anticipated report firsthand. However, due to the anticipated length of the MGT presentation, there will be no public comments taken at this meeting.

The District will hold two special community forums for public comments - Wednesday, February 4, from 6:00p.m. - 8:00p.m. at Roosevelt High School, 3230 Hartford St., and Saturday February 7, from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at Vashon High School, 3035 Cass Ave.

Public comments may also be submitted via the Internet starting Friday, January 30, by visiting www.slps.org. The District will accept comments on the MGT presentation via the Internet through February 8.

For more information, please call 314-345-2367.

8 comments:

The Urbanophile said...

I subscribe to a huge number of blogs, but this is the one that depresses me the most. I'd kill for Indy to have even a fraction of the architectural treasures St. Louis has wantonly destroyed even in recent years. Sad.

Civitch said...

NO PUBLIC COMMENT??????????

LisaS said...

interesting how similar it is to Euclid.

Anonymous said...

I was a kindergarten student at Benton from 63'-64'. Public School Stadium was across the street a block north same side. As a kid I remember this place as being a fortress. This place was part of my history. For unnecessary monetary reasons, buildings such as these shouldn't have to be demolished. Note: The rear part of the school (facing west) is already demolished and missing in the last photo, and that's where we held our kindergarten class. LONG LIVE BENTON SCHOOL!

Anonymous said...

I was a student at Benton School from kindergarten until 8th grade(1962-1971).
The kindergarten was held in a unique round building attached to the main building. It was located on the Terry Ave. side in the back.
The school has a lot of history,it was overflow of students until Hickey and Lexington school were build.
Lunchtime, you can go home, store, or Bar-B-Que King and be back on time for rest of school. The girls would be on the south side (Terry Ave) and the boys had the north side (St. Louis Ave.)to play for recess.
I have nice memories of this school, meeting friends and learning. One day, I drove by and the building was gone; only the playground with some of green wrought iron fence standing.

lo said...

Oh the sadness and the heartache I felt for my old Alma mater. I to attended Benton in the sixties to the early seventies. For some reason I cannot get this school out of my memories. I live in another state and I came to visit one year and the school was gone! Oh my! I cannot tell the hurt that I felt in my heart over this. I too think this building should have been preserved. Some things are worth salvaging. How I would have loved to be able to walk those halls again and to revisit the old kindergarten, the second and third floors, the basement gym. This is really too much for me to fathom that the place I dream about, I can no longer visit. I know every place cannot be saved. But oh how I fantasize about my grade school days at Benton Elementary. I remember Mr. Bonner our principle at the time, Ms Short, Ms Hall and Mrs Curtis, Mrs. Walker who were first and second grade teachers. Oh the memories of a past long gone, gone, gone. Please try and save our old historical sites and not be in a hurry tear to them down.

Anonymous said...

I should point out that Grant Middle School did NOT shutdown in 1983 as mentioned. It shutdown in 1993. How do I know this? I graduated from Grant Middle School in 1986. As did my sister. My brother later graduated from Grant Middle in 1987. Again, Grant was abandon in 1993, not 1983. The middle school's operation was relocated to Fanning School. Which became Fanning Middle School in 1993.

Vanishing STL said...

Thanks for the info! Post has been updated.