Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Update: Bowood to renovate 4621 Washington & eventually build new houses

Last night John McPheeters left a lengthy comment offering some clarifications regarding my post about their recent demolitions. First, I was incorrect in showing the gravel lot east of their main building as being owned by Bowood. It is owned by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, which is located further east on the same block. Second, Bowood does not intend to demolish 4621 Washington, the stone bay fronted home that is part of a row of alternating matching houses.
Revised Bowood ownership. Future new residential is shaded yellow.

This is a big relief, as demolition of this house or any additional homes in this magnificant row would be devastating. McPheeters indicated that he had recently installed a new roof on the building, restored the Jefferson window over the porch, and that renovations would continue s "funds are available". It would be helpful though to board-up the missing windows on the second floor to keep blowing rain out of the house. The windowless look makes the house look like a forlorn Blairmont property waiting for the final curtain call.

McPheeters also mentioned that new presidential development would eventually occur on the north side of Washington on the vacant lots. This is also a good sign as it seemed fairly extreme to expand the Bowood business both north and south. He mentioned that the City condemned 4569 Washington after a partial collapse of the west wall, but I find it interesting that Bowood's main building on Olive was also "condemned for demolition" by the City in January 2005, yet they moved forward with renovation. McPheeters ended his comments with excuses for demolishing 4608 Washington, saying that the house was "severely compromised by neglect over the decades and had become a hazard to life". Somehow I find this to be a bit of an overstatement, as I have seen homes in far worse shape renovated, including farther east on the same block.
Interior shot of 4608 Washington during demolition... "a danger to life"??

10 comments:

BayerBuyer said...

I wish the Bowood guy would just explain (in detail) why he tore it down in his terms. Was he afraid people were going to squat there and get hurt? Did he think that it was an eyesore for Bowood customers? What was the actual reason?

I don't think I'm the first to say it, but St. Louis only has one thing going for it. One thing. It's not our terrible schools, our sclerotic government, our racial and city/county divisions, that's for sure. It's our freakin' built environment, something very few places have. Even when you tear down one house, you are throwing away the only positive thing about St. Louis forever.

Unless Bowood John addresses real reasons - reasons that give me a chance to empathize with him - I'm not going to Bowood again. Maybe he thinks he can weather this bad publicity, but I will tell you, no one has stopped talking about the Century Building or McRee or the Blairmont stuff.

Matt Fernandez said...

Looks much nicer than the house I am planning to renovate.

Adam said...

holy cow, bayerbuyer! give STL a little credit - we have more going for us than just our built environment (although it is a HUGE asset and irreplacable). we have better cultural attractions than most other cities of comparable size and a beautiful park system to name just a couple...

Anonymous said...

These comments crack me up. Everytime I hear a "preservationist" rant and rave about someone wanting to tear down a building, I always ask myself the same question: are these people willing to step in and put their own money up to renovate the property? I read the article in the RFT yesterday and my heart went out to this guy. He could have put his buiness anywhere, but chose to build his business in the CWE area. An area that outside of about 10 square blocks is embarrising for St. Louis. What about realizing that an entire generation of St. Louisans have left the city because of dilapidated buildings, crumbling schools and idiotic restrictions. You're so hell bent on a connection to a past (even if that past isn't as glorious as you make it out to be) that you FORFIET your connecion to a prosperous future. "To hell with the next 100 years, I want my connection to the last 100 years"??? Unless you are willing to have your INDVIDUAL TAXES RAISED to offer an incentive for developers or businesses to restore the houses or unless you are offering to do it yourself, the ONLY SAY you should be allowed is DOES THE NEW BUILDING MEET WITH ZONING CODE/PLANS/EFFORTS? There are literally THOUSANDS of properties all over St. Louis that at one time were great buildings, or nice buildings, or someone local grew up in that house and they became somewhat "note-worthy", etc.etc., but what the hell does that mean to the kids who will be born to my grandkids? In the meantime, these THOUSANDS of properties sit empty for an entire generation. Worse, they act as neighborhood cancers spreading their gloom to properties around them until the entire area becomes infected. My friend had cancer in his leg. Sure, he wanted to keep the leg. That was a big deal. But when the doctor said we can try to save the leg but if the cancer spreads, then your dead. Guess what: my friend had to make the tough choice and he made the right one. Lose the leg for sake of the body/life. There are dozens upon dozens of "cancerous" buildings and neighborhoods in ST LOUIS. And the remedy is slower than the spread. Not enough people are willing to step in an rennovate these old buildings. Smart St. Louisans should understand that they have may have to "cut off" the connection to the past on a few of these neighborhoods in order to create a positive connection to the future. What would it do for the future of st louis if all of these delapidated buildings were torn down and replaced with new businesses, new homes and a new direction. Yes we'd lose some history, but we'd GIVE a positive future and a fighting chance by making the tough decision to cut off the limb to save the body.

Otherwise, stop crying and be happy that somebody is willing to do what you wouldn't: take a run-down piece of property and give it a new life.

Alex Ihnen said...

Yes, I am willing to have my INDIVIDUAL TAXES RAISED so that we may save more buildings.

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous: Maybe you are an angry Bowood employee? I don't know, but your kind scares the hell out of me! ...we might have 'to be cut off from the past'!? What an idotic comment! I would be saddened if my grandchildren never got to see the splendor of the St. Louis I know, the Fox theatre, Forest Park, the Arch, the Century building (well too late), the wonderful turn-of-the-century mansions along the park, the 1850 stone house that sits on top of the Gravois viaduct, the Art museum, MY grandmother's childhood home that still stands (c.1880), Soulard, Lafayette Square neighborhood, etc, etc (I'm JUST GETTIN STARTED') Your comments are so pathetic I'm not even going to dignify them any longer. SOME of us care about history, culture, art, architecture. Please stay far away from St. Louis with your attitude, I think I hear Winghaven calling your name. I feel sorry for your friend too, having to put up with your negative comments about everything more than 25 years old.......

-A.T.

john w. said...

Anonymous @ 8:15a... you're an idiot. Leave this city.

john w. said...

...and, your analogy of cancer really applies more to your attitude and the growing epidemic of senseless demolitions in this city. Stop posting anonymously- whether you're an agitator or an old urbanist who pokes other, younger urbanists and preservationists just to test their convictions while hiding behind the anonymous curtain, it's just low. Get a name. Use that name.

Totalrenovering said...

This is a great article. Because when I read it its really interesting, and the photo shows the location of the place and the complete details was there. Thank you and keep up the good work.

Vanishing STL said...

Thanks!!