Sunday, October 18, 2009

Carr School Threatened with Demolition

As reported recently by Dotage, Carr School will be up for condemnation review at this months Preservation Board meeting on Monday, October 26th.  The City's Department of Public Safety is seeking a condemnation for demolition.  While this would not necessarily mean an immediate demolition, it would place the building on the City's list for rotating demolition funding.  The school is owned by the Carr Square Tenant Management Corporation, who according to the City's 5-year Consolidated Plan for Carr Square, would like to see the building renovated into senior housing and small scale commercial use.
Carr School as seen in the 1915 publication: American School Building Standards. The steeple of St. Pater's German Evangelical Church (demolished) is visible behind the south end.

Carr School, designed by William B. Ittner, was built in 1909 and opened in December of that year.  It was closed in June 1978 and has been abandoned for well over 25 years.  The building was listed on the National Register in December 2000 following a nomination prepared by Landmarks Association, which makes it eligible for Federal and Missouri State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits.

The projecting bay at the center of the school contained the kindergarten.  The openings at the end of the bay, which have been altered, originally had pairs of tall french doors with transoms above opening to the small balcony areas.


Colorful decorative brick murals which feature scenes of playing children
adorn the ends of the two wings that face into the school yard.

In recent years, the roof of the building has suffered heavy deterioration resulting in a large collapsed section at the center of the school as well as a small section at the south wing.  The school however is far from being too far gone to rehabilitate.  With the exception of the roof, the structure of the building was built of "fireproof" concrete.  Interior photos from a fellow Flickrite's photo set shows that while the building is a mess as would be expected, the structure beyond the roof is quite sound and a good candidate for renovation.

A previous post of here on Vanishing STL gives two examples buildings that had far worse collapse and decay than Carr School.  Both the Lister Building and International Shoe Buildings, which were literally shells for a good percentage of the total building in both cases were successfully rehabilitated into loft apartments (unfortunately the Switzer, which was the main subject of that post was eventually demolished).

It seems that every few years there has been discussion of renovation of Carr School for senior apartments, as was recently done with nearby Franklin School, or most recently, as seen on Arcturis' website, renovation for use as a charter school.

A small fountain at the northwest corner of the school yard.

Preserving Carr School is important not only for its beautiful architecture, but also because it is one of the only buildings remaining from the original Carr Square neighborhood.  With the exception of a factory building a block north and a small commercial building on the same block, there are no other original buildings within sight of the school.  The once dense urban neighborhood has almost entirely succumbed to "urban renewal" in the form of housing projects, street reconfigurations and industrial parks.

This is an important building that bridges the history gap between Downtown and the historic neighborhoods farther north.  Please consider attending the Preservation Board meeting on Monday, October 26th at 4:00 PM, 1015 Locust, suite 1200.  If you cannot make the meeting, written testimony may be submitted by email to Adonna Buford, the Preservation Board Secratary at: BufordA@stlouiscity.com

This 1909 Sanborn shows the "new" Carr School outline dashed in around a much small school that had been built in 1885.  To take advantage of the tight urban site, the new school was pushed to the north and east edges of the parcel, leaving the school yard opening out toward Carr Square Park, which still remains and has been expanded east to 14th street.
Floor plans of Carr School from: American School Building Standards

2 comments:

Ben said...

I remember seeing in May during McKee's first presentation that he had a rendering of this school showing it renovated and in service as a school again. Surely he will be at the preservation meeting to fight for its future.

Anonymous said...

I also thought this was in McKee's grand scheme to renovate. Our company is actually in talks with him to handle his historic preservation work. Hopefully we can convince him to rehab some of these beautiful buildings. Paul, it would also be nice to give our company a little love when you mention our projects as you often do. Most recent being Franklin School. See more, including Lindenwood School at our website www.klitzingwelsch.com.