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With An Eye On The Palladium, What's The State Of Historic Preservation In St. Louis?

The Palladium Building today
Preservation Research Office

There have been rumors for a couple of years now that the Veterans Administration is interested in obtaining the Palladium building at 3618 Enright in order to expand the John Cochran VA Medical Center. For years, the Palladium was home to The Plantation Club.

In a commentary published by St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon, Pokey LaFarge called for the preservation of the building where jazz greats performed for decades.

According to Landmarks Association of St. Louis executive director Andrew Weil, the rumors of the VA’s interest have now been confirmed by a request sent to the state historic preservation office to assess the historic and cultural value of the building.

“They found that in fact this building was highly significant,” Weil said of the assessment. “Long story short, the VA is probably looking at other properties because of the procedural headaches that would be involved with demolishing this very significant building.”

Even without an active threat of destruction, however, buildings such as the Palladium face the threat of neglect, said Weil.

“The larger problem is the passive threat of neglect and decay, especially in St. Louis with our incredible wealth of masonry buildings,” he said. “They’re incredibly durable until you start getting water infiltrations. So once the roofs start to go on a lot of these buildings, then nature kind of takes its course.”

And the only solution to that problem is obtaining the money to renovate.

Lest his organization be branded a doomsayer, Weil pointed to the restoration of other historic Grand Center buildings such as Powell Hall as examples of successful preservations.

“The core of Grand Center is really a postcard of beautiful architecturally and historically significant buildings that have been renovated over the past few decades,” he said. “The irony is that the Palladium is as significant as any of the buildings in Grand Center in terms of its cultural history. And with the completion of the Sun and the completion of the KDHX building … the Palladium is really the last piece of the puzzle.”

St. Louis on the Air provides discussion about issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.

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