Historic Preservation

The historic Goldenrod Showboat is currently docked near Kampsville, Ill.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Six months after a preservation group bid the Goldenrod Showboat a final farewell, the St. Louis landmark has again avoided the salvage yard, and there's a new plan to disassemble and rebuild the historic vessel on land.

The nonprofit Historic Riverboat Preservation Association had been working to buy the Goldenrod from the owners of the dock where it has been moored on the Illinois River. Volunteers with the group gave up on that effort after the century-old showboat was damaged by flooding in 2015, and they expected that the Goldenrod would be scrapped or burned.


Updated 10:25 a.m., May. 25 with winning proposal: A developer has been selected to reopen the landmark Bevo Mill in south St. Louis. The city's Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority says Pat and Carol Schuchard have been chosen for the project. They already own two event venues: the Boo Cat Club and the Majorette.

Buster Brown Blue Ribbon Shoe Factory
Maria Altman |St. Louis Public Radio

Jim Osher can’t imagine how anyone could think of tearing his building down.

"You see that piece of wood?" he asks pointing to a massive rafter. "That’s old growth Douglas fir. You can’t get that anymore."

Saint Louis University Hospital
Courtesy SSM Health

When the industrialist Firmin Desloge died in 1929 at 86 years of age, his various enterprises, including Missouri lead mining, made him as rich as tycoons such as William K. Vanderbilt and Andrew Mellon. In obituaries he was described as one of the wealthiest men in America, and his status was buoyed as well by his membership in the select group of the French-American aristocracy. A portrait photograph shows him sporting a great bushy mustache, along with unruly curly hair and a very content and happy face.

View of MLK Drive in 2016
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Preservationists are a hardy and dedicated bunch. Stalwarts of the movement have faced hard battles, and usually kept their chins up when berated with contemptuous remarks about little old ladies in tennis shoes, and pigeon roosts and obstructing progress.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

Operations manager Robbie Pratte pointed to an orange line on a utility post outside the landmark Bolduc House Museum in Ste. Genevieve, Mo., that is set to reopen on Tuesday.

Soldiers Memorial
Susan Hegger | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis residents have less than a week left to visit the Soldiers' Memorial Military Museum downtown before it closes Feb. 28 for two years, until 2018.

“It’s a very significant moment for the Soldiers' Memorial because it means the start of the complete renovation,” said Karen Goering, director of operations.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

The old water tower in Millstadt, Ill., wears an unflattering coat of rust these days, but preservationists say the nearly 85-year-old landmark is as solid as the American steel used to build it during the Great Depression. They call the tower the “Tin Man,” and they’ve been working  to save “him” from the wrecking ball. 

Arcade Apartments, Arcade Building
(courtesy of Missouri History Museum, St. Louis)

Updated Friday, Dec. 11, 5 p.m. Developers say that construction is complete on the Arcade Apartments. Construction crews wrapped up their work last week and the first residents have moved in.

Jeff Huggett, a developer at Dominuim, says more than 100 of the apartments have been reserved. In a statement, he says the Arcade Building project is the largest apartment renovation in St. Louis in decades.

Our original story:

The Arcade Building in downtown St. Louis is set to reopen in December for the first time since it closed in 1978.

From event poster

Emily Colmo knows a whole lot more about sunflowers today than she did three months ago. Back then, she began her sunflower journey in distressed parts of St. Louis, where vacant land has been planted with these tall and vivid flowers. Colmo came to discover the importance of increasing our levels of environmental sustainability and our responsibility for distressed and decaying areas of all sorts. Now, she's ready to show all of us what she's learned through a documentary.

 John B. Myers House, Florissant

If the afternoon light is just right the house glows golden, and the best view of it, ironically, is when you exit the Innerbelt, I-170, a roadway that once threatened to knock the venerable old building down, onto I-270.

The building is the graceful former home of a 19th century family, perched on a hill in Florissant. It has lived on Missouri Preservation's places in peril list - but seems to be in peril no more.

The J.C. Penney building, in 1948, on what is now Dr. Martin Luther King Drive
Provided by Andrew Raimist

Architect-preservationist Andrew Raimist pulled open a makeshift plywood door, the sort of bashed-up door you see before the boarding-up service shows up. Once, a door here would have opened onto a building resplendent with promise, a landmark post-World War II department store that gleamed not only with commercial ambition but with civic muscle in a city very much on the go.

This is the J.C. Penney building at 5930 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr.

University City lions at city hall (2010)
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

A University City preservationist group called Heritage Sites Protection Initiative handed over petitions to the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners last week with what it hopes to be enough signatures to take its cause off the streets and front porches of U. City and onto the ballot in April 2016.

The initiative wants to beef up protection for seven historic structures in this inner-ring community.

Missouri History Museum

Updated 1:24, Nov. 11 with agreement  -

This Veteran’s Day, the Missouri History Museum takes over as official custodian of Soldiers Memorial Military Museum. The city and history museum formalized the agreement outside Soldier’s Memorial.

St. Louisan Big George Brock has performed at past Bluesweek festivals.
File Photo | Bluesweek

The National Blues Museum has set April 2, 2016, as its opening day. The project intends to tell the history of blues music through exhibits and community outreach.

Maya Angelou's birthplace, at 3130 Hickory St. in the Gate District.
| City of St. Louis

A 127-year-old brick two-story in the Gate District is the city’s latest landmark.

The house at 3130 Hickory St. was the birthplace of author and activist Maya Angelou, who was born Marguerite Johnson in April 1928. The St. Louis Board of Aldermen approved the designation as a city landmark on Friday, limiting the alterations the owners can make to the property.

During a 2010 interview, Norman Seay shared this photo of Jefferson Bank protesters being led to jail. A young William Clay, before he was elected to Congress, is second from left. Seay is the man wearing a hat and is behind the man with a pocket handkerc
Provided by Mr. Seay

A major gift is helping the Missouri History Museum contradict the notion that the civil rights movement was a quiet affair in St. Louis.

“The lunch-counter sit-ins happened in St. Louis before they happened in North Carolina, but people don’t know that story,” said Melanie Adams, managing director for community education and events. “People don’t realize that there were slaves suing for their freedom before Dred Scott. Those stories just are not out there being told.”

A flounder house on Ohio Aveue in St. Louis
via Flckr | Michael Allen

Updated as of July 28, 7 p.m.

Most of St. Louis' 277 historic triangular-shaped houses known as "flounders" are in good shape, but dozens are considered endangered, according to a months-long survey performed by the city's Cultural Resources Office.

The Superior Well Ticket office, constructed some time before 1915 is adjacent to one of the last intact mineral wells in the town at 610 Roosevelt Avenue. Excelsior Springs
Missouri Preservation

Updated with announcement - From bridges to a calaboose, the list of properties in peril put out by Missouri Preservation is a mix that highlights to variety and wealth of architecture that need help.

Getting the loudest reaction from the more than 100 people assembled for the occasion was the Clemens House on Cass Avenue.

The ruin of the Becker Anthes house has presented a challenge that would-be restorationists have not yet met
Lisa LaRose

Rain is a beautiful act of nature. It brings nourishment to everything that it touches and creates flush, lustrous green forests and beautiful flowers. In the wake of such awe-inspiring beauty, it also creates hard work.

Since we received the call from the city that we would be able to purchase the stone house, we have learned just how much work in a short time a heavy rainfall could bring. In the spring, we had volunteers help us clear the brush and cut down trees that had overrun the property and help us haul limestone from a nearby construction site that had unearthed a limestone basement from an old structure long gone.

Esley Hamilton
Robert W. Duffy | St. Louis Public Radio

Often the steady, sturdy and stalwart are described as bricks, those men and women who rise to the occasion when there’s a difficulty of one sort or another. Bricks are smart, determined, rigorous, tireless, scrupulous, thorough, imaginative, honest, and they don’t shy away from conflict. They are courageous. Esley Hamilton, as much as anyone I know, is a brick. Because his business has been historic preservation, standing up for threatened structures often made out of bricks, he is aptly described by that moniker.

Bent or missing spear points are just a visible part of the problems with the fence around Lafayette Park.
Donna Korando | St. Louis Public Radio

The fence around Lafayette Park is an iconic symbol of the neighborhood: the fleur-de-lis of the spear points is in the Lafayette Square logo. Now part of that fence is on its way to Alabama.

Although the iron may appear sturdy, it is not.

"The only thing holding the fence together is the rust and the paint,” said Keith Houghton, an engineer who lives in the Lafayette Square neighborhood in south St. Louis. Bolts are missing; the fence sags or dips in places; some spear points are bent.

Architectural historian Lynn Josse tells a tour group about the history of the Laclede Power Plant built in 1901 on Saturday, June 6, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The National Register of Historic Places has four listings within the footprint of the proposed riverfront football stadium in St. Louis. A group of preservationists wants the NFL Stadium Task Force to take a second look at their plan to demolish the historic buildings that date back as far as the 1870s.

Dutchtown South Block
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Two local neighborhoods — one affluent, one working class — and two local historic buildings are being considered for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

historic preservation, Landmarks Association of St. Louis
(courtesy of Landmarks Association of St. Louis)

The Cupples 7 building in downtown St. Louis was on the National Register of Historic Places, but that didn’t save it from the wrecking ball.

The nine-story building was torn down in 2013 after becoming so unstable the city considered it a public safety risk.

In the wake of the demolition, Landmarks Association of St. Louis decided it was time to create a low-interest loan program for historic preservation.

About 40 people rallied to save the former Incarnate Word convent on Sunday, April 19, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Advocates of preserving the former Incarnate Word convent continue to call on the University of Missouri-St. Louis to reverse its decision to demolish the building.

Built in 1922 to house the Sisters of the Incarnate Word, the university acquired the convent 20 years ago. It's located in the Village of Ben-Nor, south of the UMSL campus, across the street from the Normandie Golf Course.

About 40 people gathered on the steps of the convent Sunday to protest its upcoming demolition.

The Shell Building
Chris Yunker | Flickr

The Shell Building downtown is defined by its curved walls and thickly spaced windows. Designer Jeremy Clagett says the architecture lightly mimics the shape of a shell pulled from the sea. He also said securing its preservation helps the city’s future as much as its past.

The ruin of the Becker Anthes house has presented a challenge that would-be restorationists have not yet met
Lisa LaRose

As a family, we have a passion for history. We like to drive through the old neighborhoods of St. Louis, our son navigating on Google Earth on the iPad, and we gaze upon hidden jewels. The brick is lustrous, and the architecture gives this city its soul.

Paul Sableman | Flickr

A rare, mid-19th century, triangular type of house known as a "flounder" is the subject of a survey being conducted by the city of St. Louis.

Professor Lerone Martin holds recording of Rev. J.M. Gates
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The term "televangelist” was coined in a 1975 TIME magazine article to describe a practice now familiar to many Americans. Lerone Martin said that practice may stem from sermons recorded in the mid 1920s. Martin wants people to imagine a recording session with Louis Armstrong and his musicians in New York’s Columbia Records studios as one of the first bridges established between religion and mass media.