Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chipping Away at Chouteau's Landing

818 S. 4th demolition
UPDATE: Yesterday A City official contacted me about this demolition. The City did not demolish the building due to the earlier condemnation as I assumed, but instead, the application came from the owner. The demolition was approved without review because apparently in the transfer of information from City Hall, where the application originated to 1520 Market Street where the Cultural Resources Office is located, the address of the building was incorrectly entered. The address entered put the building outside of the S. 4th Street National Register district where the building is actually located, so CRO did not review the application. Also, it is rumored that a new owner has closed on the purchase of the property from Steve Murphy.

On Wednesday this photo of the demolition of 818-822 S. 4th Street was posted on Twitter by Alternative Apparel, which is part of the Collective at the MX. The building was located at 4th & Lombard, just north of the old approach ramp for the MacArthur Bridge, on the western edge of the now moribund Chouteau's Landing District. The building is owned by Steve Murphy who headed the now defunct Chivvis Development, which rehabilitated several buildings along 4th Street. You may recall that Murphy also owned the prominent Powell Square Building which the City of St. Louis demolished at the beginning of this year.

Built in 1890 for a saloon and butcher shop, the building has been been empty for many years. It was most recently known for the colorful paintings by local artist Peat Wollaeger. No news if Beardy McGreen will be saved. The structure was a contributing building in the South Fourth Street Commercial District, a National Register historic district that was created in 2006.

A view of the building from Lombard. Earlier this year the City of St. Louis issued an emergency structural condemnation for reasons unknown.

The structure at the rear of the property is a separate building that was built in 1917 as an office and warehouse for Saxony Mills, a large flour mill located across Lombard since 1849. The mill was demolished for the construction of Interstate 55. The 1909 Sanborn map for the area shows this building as a 3 story structure. It is unknown when the upper floors were removed. Also unknown is whether this structure is being demolished with the front building. They were built on separate parcels and later combined into one property. I fear for this building because with "emergency" demolitions the City is typically not smart enough to discern that there is more than one building on a parcel, so everything gets wrecked.

The interior of 818-822 S. 4th had been gutted down to studs. As of a few years ago, the interior of the structure was in decent shape although there were soft areas in the floors and a few isolated areas where the joists were quite deteriorated. The masonry shell was in good condition and the overall structure sound.

Another interior view of the second floor of 818-822 S. 4th.

Interior view of the entrance to the building at 321 Lombard.

This building had apparently been used more recently than the building on 4th Street and was in excellent condition.

An interior view of the loading dock area of 321 Lombard at the north end of the building. The building is a concrete frame structure with brick infill walls.

South Fouth St Historic District
The buildings at 818-822 S. 4th, 317 Lombard and a small one story addition at 812-816 S. 4th are at the center of the historic district. Their loss (if indeed the entirety is being demolished) would be very damaging to the continuity of the district, which with the large gap in the middle was already fragile. As of the beginning of last week, the Cultural Resources Office had not received anything an application for this demolition, which is likely a result of the "emergency" condemnation.

If this building had begun to collapse into one of the streets, which no one has made indications of, an "emergency" action might be justified, but if this was simply another building that lost part of its roof or a section of floor to inward collapse, then we are losing another building (or maybe two) for no good reason at all.


Ann said...


Anonymous said...

Phyllis really knows how to push those demos through. What a shame.

Bob the Builder said...

Wow! City Hall snuck through another Nationally Registed building for demo! They are pros down there in room 425! Emergency my ass!! Such a load of crap!

Urban Pete said...

The ruthless carnage of this city is unbelievable! How is it that so few people care about saving anything historic??? St. Louis city is by far the worst example in the country for urban redevelopment! It's mind blowing, and really, really sad.

Anonymous said...

Chouteau's landing is a dead district. Yes it's very sad but true. Here sits an entire section of the city, minutes from the downtown central corridor, and NOBODY wants in !! Yes in a dreamworld, it could be amazing. But in reality it took almost 10 years get ballpark village together directly across from the main draw in the city. what could ever draw people to move in here? Nothing that's what.

Anonymous said...

Deliberately mis-labeling the address has almost become standard practice to get demos pushed through room 425 at city hall. Demo contractors have figured out that the easiest way to not raise any red flags about a certain address is to manipulate it. Of course city hall will figure it out and catch on, but usually the building is half in the landfill by then. I've seen this happen many times in my 20 plus years in the demo business.....

Anonymous said...

Sad and stupid.

School of Rock STL said...

Hi. Yes, Beardy McGreen was saved, mostly. He was bent and beat up laying on top of the trash pile but is now resting nicely to be rehabbed and put in the School of Rock in Kirkwood, with Peat's blessing.

Vanishing STL said...

^Good to hear that! Thanks for the update.