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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Brick Thieves Strike 914 Madison Street

Over at 914 Madison Street in the eastern reaches of Old North St. Louis (which the city officially considers the "North Riverfront" neighborhood), a crew of brick scavengers recently pulled down the exterior walls of the last remaining residence on the block, a building recent damaged by fire. The interior walls and floors are collapsing slowly, forming a shape reminiscent of a pine tree burdened by heavy snowfall. The building is owned by Carlos Johnson. Thankfully, I photographed the building over the summer.


Joe said...

Somehow, I'm not surprised. There are so few small historic buildings left in the area east of I-70 and west of Broadway; most have disappeared over the years. Just the end of a 50 year trend, beginning with the massive demolitions required to build I-70 in the first place.

Sad, nevertheless. But, would anybody really want to rehab and inhabit those properties at this point?

Michael Allen said...

While I am certain the orphaned parts of Old North and Hyde Park will continue to decline and are not likely to be effectively integrated into the larger parts of their neighborhoods, I hold out some hope that some buildings here will survive (although the Mississippi River Bridge and ongoing thoughtless urban planning policy may kill my small hope).

I know of one rehabber who recently purchased a home in the 900 block of Montgomery Street as well as a densely-populated enclave of Hyde Park remaining immediately east of I-70. I think that buildings east of I-70 that still remain in five years around Old North may be coveted, since old buildings west of I-70 may be all taken and rehabbed by that point. Likely residential development on Broadway may also help. People who like driving but want to be part of the near northside may not have a problem with living in this area.

One thing that would help is slight revision of the neighborhood boundaries of Old North and Hyde Park to once again claim these buildings. In Old North, that would especially help given the active neighborhood group there. But I don't expect these boundaries to ever change.

For what it's worth, we considered buying the Crystal Grill building on Broadway but decided that it was too isolated from reisdential areas for our tastes.