St. Louis is home to a vast array of architectural marvels. Whether you’re looking for art deco gems or modernist icons, you’ll find plenty of examples within city limits. But not all buildings are well preserved. What are the most endangered historical buildings in St. Louis? And what buildings are symbols of a preservation job well-done?
On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Andrew Weil, the executive director of the Landmarks Association of St. Louis, joined host Don Marsh to discuss this topic.
While legislation, funding and development are all significant threats to historic preservation of old buildings, there’s something else that looms larger in Weil’s mind:
“The biggest threat is an overall lack of people who need the buildings,” he said. “From our peak we’ve lost more than half a million people and with that amount of loss, in some areas, you end up with enormous amounts of vacancies. With vacancy, you have no real economic reason or demand for a lot of buildings. Without demand, you have no need to repair buildings and away the buildings go.”
The Landmarks Association takes a three-tiered approach to historic preservation: advocacy, education and promotion. Before they determine a building is “endangered,” they reference the National Register of Historic Places but also look at the intactness of a neighborhood, architectural significance and historical significance.
“I really think the best outcome for any historic building is that it is used,” Weil said. “It’s not about keeping buildings under glass or turning them into museums, it’s about turning them into productive service.”
Here are the buildings that the Landmarks Association of St. Louis has denoted as “endangered” for 2016 and where you can find them, in no particular order:
1. Firmin Desloge Hospital and Desloge Chapel (Find it here.)
2. St. Bridget of Erin (Find it here.)
3. Missouri Belting Company/Pevely Dairy Office (Find it here.)
4. St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church (Find it here.)
5. Remains of the Mutual Brewing Company (Find it here.)
6. Central High School (Find it here.)
7. Hempstead School (Find it here.)
8. Buildings in the footprint of the proposed relocation site for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (Find it here.)
9. Meramec River Route 66 Bridge (Find it here.)
10. Henry L Wolfner Memorial Library for the Blind (Find it here.)
11. James Clemens Jr. House (Find it here.)
You can read about the background of each building here.
Listen here for more background about some of the endangered buildings and find out two of the buildings that Landmarks Association of St. Louis deems “most enhanced:”
On May 19, the Landmarks Association will unveil the full list of winners of their 20th Annual Most Enhanced Awards. More on that here.
As a caller and Landmarks Association board of directors member, Rand Vines of STL Style, said during the show: "Our built environment in St. Louis is our single greatest advantage over other cities."
What buildings are you worried about the future of here in St. Louis?
What do you consider the most endangered buildings in #STL?
We're discussing this tomorrow w/ @landmarks_stl.
— St. Louis on the Air (@STLonAir) April 25, 2016
Is there a building you’ve always wanted to know more about? Ask Curious Louis:
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.