Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Two Opposite Corners - Two Opposite Outcomes
At the intersection of Cherokee and Nebraska Streets were two 3-story mixed use buildings constructed within six years of one another near the dawn of the 20th century. Both have had structural issues, specifically load bearing masonry walls leaning to the east. 2857 Cherokee, constructed in 1902 at the northeast corner of the intersection has had its facade completely re-built. It is unclear whether this was due to a structural condition, or if it was simply a modernization, which was popular in the 1950's and 1960's.
2900 Cherokee, kitty corner to 2857 and constructed in 1896, had a problem with its entire east wall leaning out toward Nebraska. In November 2008, the building was inspected by the Building Division and condemned for demolition, presumably due to the east wall condition. Instead of demolition however in early 2009 work began to deconstruct the entire east wall and construct a new wood frame bearing wall. Apparently the south wall also had issues as it was also completely removed.
The photo above shows how far the wall was out of plumb. Note the the gap between the frame wall and the masonry which expands to what appears to be around one foot at the top of the 3rd story.
Later in 2009, masons were in progress re-laying the original brick from the east wall as a veneer over the new framed wall.
Here is a view of the completed work. Other than a cleaning the brick to restore a consistent color, the wall appears just as it had from the exterior. As of this year, the building was still boarded, and it us unclear when it will be occupied (the same LLC has owned the building since 2004), but with the investment in re-building the problem wall we can likely rest assured that it is going to remain at the intersection for the long term.
Back to 2857 Cherokee: This photo shows how the entire third floor of the building leans several inches to the east. In July 2009 it was condemned for demolition by the City, and then LRA is shown in City property records as taking ownership in 2010 after three different owners since 2004. There was also apparently a large crack at the southeast corner of the building running the height of the building.
This photo shows clearly that the front portion of the third floor wall leans east, but that this condition appears to gradually lessen as you move north toward the back of the building. The first two floors of the west wall appear to be free of defect. The photo below shows some minor settlement cracking around the windows of the rear wall and a need for tuckpointing due to the lack of a gutter. What like a pile of brick or possibly a collapsing chimney is a very minor issue, and otherwise the rear of the building appears sound.
Although located in the Jefferson Gravois Streetcar Suburb Historic District, a permit for demolition was granted after application was made by LRA on april 16th of this year. This begs the question: Did LRA attempt to market this building at all after acquiring it? I don't recall seeing an LRA "For Sale" sign. If a building owner on the opposite corner was willing to re-build the entire east and south walls of a condemned building, surely 2857 Cherokee could have been purchased from the LRA by someone who could have re-built the leaning portion of the third floor and possibly the first two floors of the front facade if the crack at the southeast corner warranted.
While the modernized brick facade is regrettable, there are many things a new own could have done after dealing with the third floor to improve the looks of the front of the building if the facade didn't need an entire re-build. These could have included new windows, adding a third window to the second floor, adding a period appropriate cornice, adding an awning over the storefront, etc. Instead, the building is now under demolition and we will be stuck with a vacant LRA lot for the foreseeable future.
Next door at 2853 Cherokee, a paved lot is now owned by the Cherokee Station Special Business District. Not long ago this parcel also contained a building shown below. The one story structure was condemned for demolition in December 2002 and demolished the following year. The paved lot does not appear to be used for parking as it is not striped and fully fenced at the front and rear.