Friday, September 4, 2009

Inside a McKee "Legacy Property" - 1930-36 St. Louis Avenue

After seeing this post by Ecology of Absence about the destruction by brick thieves at this mansion at 1930-36 St. Louis Avenue, I decided to take an in-depth look at the damage and what is left.  The mansion turned funeral home turned abandoned Bliarmont property was originally constructed in 1873 and is located in the Clemens House - Columbia Brewery National Register Historic District.  The building should without question be considered a "Legacy Property" in Paul McKee's proposed NorthSide development.  But is this considered a Legacy Property?  No one knows, since to date McEagle has refused to divulge the list of Legacy Properties after numerous requests from various stakeholders.  

A close-up of the unique bracketed balcony over the entrance

A side view of the destruction which has left the rear ell of the mansion a rubble pile

Another view however shows a masonry wall between the ell and the main portion of the mansion intact.  While the rear half of the structure is heavily damaged, the main part of the original mansion, the front half of the addition to the west as well as some of the rear walls are still quite salvageable.  Enough of the structure remains to make the building eligible for Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits. 

The rear of the of the funeral home garage addition from the alley shows extensive damage, however, the large steel beam supporting the roof structure remains.

A view from the west shows the west wall of the addition fully intact as well as the main portion of the mansion.

Inside the garage it is evident that deterioration of the roof had already taken place prior to the brick theft.  The roof itself is easily re-buildable, and the wall could be re-built as well if a new user wanted to retain the rear garage.

A pew from the funeral chapel is left lying in the rubble.

A white glazed brick enclosed room has been completely opened on two sides by the brick rustlers.  The missing walls however appeared to not be load bearing as the large steel beam and roof structure are intact.

Liquid tissue solvent!

Middle portion of the west addition. Though plaster has fallen from the wall and ceiling, the structure is unscathed for now.

View into what was the chapel in the rear ell of the mansion.

Much of the west addition was at one time separated from the main structure by an exterior gangway which was later fully enclosed.

The rear of the chapel in the surviving main portion of the mansion.  The masonry wall above the opening divides the main structure from the damaged ell.

The front parlor of the mansion with the bay which protrudes to the east.

The front hall of the mansion.

The main stair to the second floor was relocated to the west, outside the original west wall, likely to open up the front hall, which led directly to the funeral chapel.  The stair aligns with the now enclosed gangway farther back in the building.

The stair returns into the original mansion at the second floor.

A view of the devastation from the 2nd floor hall.

The stair to the third floor remains in it's original location.

On the second floor, what would have originally been bedrooms had been opened up to create one large space with the bay window at the center.  A column centered on the bay has been stolen resulting in the sag in beam supporting floor joists above

A view of the rear of the large second floor space.

The front of the large room in the main part of the mansion.

A view from the window above the front entrance.  Beyond the ornate balcony rail is the vacant lot which was the site of St. Paul's Methodist Church, which was demolished in the late 1990s.


The front room of the third floor.  While somewhat of a mess, the condition of this room illustrates that the mansion at 1936 St. Louis Avenue is far from the condition where total demolition should be considered.  

As part of their $410 million TIF application McEagle shows revenue of $149 million from Historic Tax Credits.  In order to achieve anything close to that number, McKee will need to do historic renovations of this mansion and likely all other properties on the elusive "Legacy" list.  

The fact that a grand historic property has been allowed to fall into this condition is inexcusable, especially in the hands in the hands of someone asking for $410 million in tax revenue to support his project.  The Board of Alderman and Mayor Slay should not consider giving McKee, who happens to also own a large construction company, one penny until he secures buildings like this and prevents the wanton destruction that has occurred here.

3 comments:

Carrie said...

There are some properties that just scream "SADNESS" every time I drive by... and this is one of them. *sigh*

You are a brave man for going in and braving the rubble. Glad you survived without get bombarded by plaster. =)

I love your blog. I love that you are publicly exposing the things that the rest of us drive by and try to ignore.

This property makes me incredibly sad. Unfortunately, it's just one of hundreds...

john w. said...

diamonds for dirt.

Sean said...

i drove behind this building not too long before the recent theft and destruction had occurred, its amazing the lengths some people will go to in their pursuit of a dollar.