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Demolition crews take down historic Culver House, making way for Powell Hall expansion

Farrah Anderson
St. Louis Public Radio
Demolition crews are almost finished tearing down the building known as Culver House in St. Louis' Grand Center. The demolition will make way for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's $100 million expansion of Powell Hall.

Demolition is almost finished on the building known as Culver House, making way for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s expansion of Powell Hall.

Historic preservationists fought to save the house for months. They wanted the symphony to move the building or incorporate it into the $100 million expansion.

Symphony officials say they chose not to incorporate Culver House into the Powell Hall expansion because it would have been too expensive and because the house had safety issues like black mold, asbestos and uneven floors.

Symphony representative Eric Dundon said the renovations will expand Powell Hall’s rehearsal space and create more accessible entrances.

“The renovation was designed to improve all aspects of the audience experience,” Dundon said.

Construction on Powell Hall’s expansion is slated to begin next year, Dundon said.

Culver House, which dates to the 19th century, is one of the last brick homes left in Grand Center, historians say. Because the house was not included in the historic district or listed in the National Register of Historic Places, preservationists couldn’t save it.

Some St. Louis residents were disappointed in the symphony’s decision to demolish the building. Money for the Powell Hall expansion could have been used to save and incorporate Culver House, business owner Rebecca Bolte said.

“I cannot believe that in the $100 million budget that they had they couldn't figure out some way to work around the structure or incorporate the structure in some capacity,” Bolte said.

By demolishing the building, Bolte said, St. Louis is losing another piece of history.

“It's a slap in the face to the history and culture of St. Louis City to demolish that building,” she said.

Farrah Anderson is the newsroom intern at St. Louis Public Radio. Follow her on Twitter: @farrahsoa.

Farrah Anderson is a rising junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she is studying journalism. She joins the St. Louis Public Radio as a newsroom intern for Summer '22.

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