Last night I attended the Grand Center Great Streets open house that mostly focused on the streets in and around Grand Center and what should be done to improve them for all users including pedestrians, bikes and cars. Some of the boards also dealt with the problems associated with the uses of many properties fronting the streets, mostly being surface parking lots. One board showed several buildings in red that have been determined to be buildings that should be demolished for other uses. Most I would agree can go away, including the gas station on the island of asphalt at the northwest corner of Spring and Olive and the concrete block pillbox that was made famous in 2010 for being the site of the largest cash heistSt. Louis history (no that doesn't make it historic). I was surprised however to see this building at the corner of Washington and Theresa on that board.
While I admit that this building isn't the best form an urban design standpoint (it stands in the middle of a parking lot), it is a unique piece of Googie architecture that should not be dismissed so quickly. The building was constructed in 1969 for NEBA Roast Beef and there are only a few of this type left in the country (thanks Debra Jane Seltzer for the info). St. Louis does not have many great examples of this typology, which has been given greater credibility with the restoration of the Flying Saucer on Grand. Great streets like Lindell Boulevard have all kinds of architecture that make them interesting. This building would make a great art gallery or continue as a restaurant. Either way, lets focus on filling up all the other giant asphalt lots in Grand Center with buildings and other uses first. There is a survey for the overall project linked from the page GrandCenterGreatStreets.org. Please take the survey and tell Grand Center what you think of this building.
Vanishing STL was created to illustrate the continuing loss of irreplaceable architecture from landmark buildings to ordinary homes due to demolition, abandonment and neglect. Often I write about structures threatened with demolition to bring awareness of the situation and promote preservation as an alternative. All photos are by Paul Hohmann unless noted otherwise.