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Ecology of Absence now resides at www.preservationresearch.com. Please change your links and feeds.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

DetroitBlog Thoughtfully Covers the Loss of a Small, Vernacular Detroit Building (or, "Why don't I recognize the neighborhood I grew up in?!?")

The November 17th post at detroitblog is a wonderful piece about a small, three-story vacant 1890s building being torched and subsequently wrecked. Even though I have no direct experience with the building that I can remember, and I don't know the area, I still find this essay deeply saddening. To any St. Louisan, the theme of the slow-but-terribly-steady disappearance of a post-industrial city's vernacular architecture should be familiar. Little disappearances like this--a fire here, a demo there--happen every day. One thread is pulled out, and it goes unnoticed, but suddenly tapestry of blocks and streets and neighborhoods are visibly unwoven. I can only think of a handful of demolitions in my neighborhood that have happened in the last year (one of which is happening right now), but somehow over the years, Old North has gone from one of the densest areas of St. Louis to an area where many blocks have vacant lots outnumbering buildings. It happens one by one, piece by piece, with buildings like this little one on Henry, between Cass and Clifford in Detroit.

In a similar vein, and also good reading: an earlier and more elaborate detroitblog post on the history and decay of a common Detroit row house, and an update showing what that same rowhouse looks like when it's engulfed with overgrowth during the warmer months.


Wondering about analogous disappearances in St. Louis? Check out EoA's pages on 2652 Geyer, Dummitt's Confectionary, 19th and Farragut, 1854 N. 39th, Florissant Center Apartments, 914 Madison, Chouteau Avenue row houses....the list goes on. Or, if you really want to learn about disappearances in vernacular architecture, walk down a block in Hyde Park, or any other city neighborhood, for that matter.


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