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Friday, October 6, 2006

Random Notes

A few random notes:

  • Thomas Crone has found much of the material salvaged from St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church -- in a new bar on Manchester Avenue fittingly called "The Church Key." Read his review of that new establishment here.

  • Some readers may have noticed that the Syndicate Trust Building is undergoing both removal of its older coats of paint and repainting. Apparently, the cost of total restoration is prohibitive because the old paint damaged the original buff brick quite badly. The new paint is similar in color to the old paint, and returns the monochrome look to the building.

  • Long-needed rehabs of the Metropolitan and Woolworth's buildings in Midtown are on hold. Meanwhile, with the completion of the new building on Live just west of the Continental Building's parking garage at a similar height to that garage and the Scottish Rite garage across the street has an ill effect. While before vacant land took away from the visual quality of the block, now bland architecture and a lack of variety in form and height give the block the feel of a wind tunnel. The new building is a modest contemporary structure that is the least offender compared to the two dreadful parking garages, neither of which has any street-level retail. Add to the mix that the Continental Building's storefront remains empty four years after the building re-opened -- wasn't that supposed to be space for an "upscale restaurant"? -- and Olive Street just west of Grand is a very poor place to be a pedestrian these days. Once upon a time, this was the busiest intersection in the city and observers thought Midtown would be the "second downtown."

    samizdat said...

    Thank you for pointing out, in a roundabout fashion, the absolute idiocy and destructiveness involved in painting a brick building. Brick needs to "breathe", and painting it(or worse, adding stucco) will cut off its' supply of air. It's a shame that most people don't know this. Or care.

    Doug Duckworth said...

    The Metropolitian is a premiere location! They need to get it done!

    Hopefully Grandel Square will see new development as that street is completely underutilized.

    Anonymous said...

    It is a misconception that painting brick buildings is a 20th century phenomenon. According to one former St. Louis preservation junkie, painting brick buildings was a much more common in the 19th century than many think. The reasons range from aesthetic to the ones being used in the Syndicate project--the poor quality of the underlying layer. While it is generally understood that oil-based paint may not permeable enough, there are other products available that will perform well.

    My general opinion is that if the brick home has paint on it, it is best to leave it there rather than utilize the many inappropriate techniques to remove the paint, which not only can damage the brick but spray paint chips everywhere.

    Urban Review said...

    Very good observations about Olive and Grand. I can certainly understand why an upscale restaurant hasn't opened --- who'd want to look out the window at vacant lots and an ugly parking garage. A pity given how vibrant this area once was many decades ago.

    samizdat said...

    I agree anon., by the time you get around to removing paint on a building that has been that way for years, you may as well just paint it again. Lead-based paint and the damage over time to the face of the brick do indeed preclude removal . However, I stll cringe when I see a building that was only very recently painted, like the one across the street. GRAY! Battleship gray. Ugh! The problem with painting is that once you do that, a building is essentially removed from the context of the remainder of the block. It is now an exception, a caveat, if you will, to its neighbors. Many times, it seems that the individual doing the job seems to be making a statement in marketing: This structure is different, unique, even superior to the others surrounding. As well, owners will paint a "flip" or a marginal rehab just to show that they spent a little money on the exterior, rather than undertake the more desirable, and admittedly more expensive, task of repointing the joints. Oh, well.

    Joe said...

    I'm ambivalent on this one. I tried and failed to remove a very crappy, very recent paint job from my first house, built in the 1880s but purchased by me in 2001.

    I discovered just how much tuckpointing was necessary after all. That combined with a lot of other problems and changes in my life eventually led me to sell that little house.

    Recently, a house across the street from my current one got its front brick facade painted a very ugly cream color. This is probably the worst house on the block in terms of tenant behavior; and its second-floor front balcony door is covered by vinyl siding. Ick!

    Some landlords are just cheap assholes.