Driving a car with no license plates around Old North St. Louis on a Sunday afternoon? Need a place to park it and then walk away from it?
Well, that might be hard to find here. Even though there is a lot of vacant land and numerous vacant buildings, there seem to be many eyes on the look out for unusual behavior.
If you are like one fellow yesterday, you probably figure that parking next to the abandoned Fourth Baptist Church at 13th and Sullivan is a good bet. Looking at the missing soffit, the window openings missing their original stained glass windows and the smashed-in window at the front entrance, you'd be tempted to think that no one cares about the building. It's sitting there crumbling away, with no for-sale sign on it. So why not park your shady ride next to it?
Well, you guessed wrong about the location. The church congregation may be long gone, but neighbors are pretty alert to goings-on there. This is a neighborhood populated by people who view a vacant old church as a community resource being underutilized, and who want to protect it and other buildings.
Within minutes of being left, the car parked by the church yesterday was adorned with a ticket from the police department. Later, it was gone altogether.
The church, soon to be profiled on the Ecology of Absence website, is the subject of interesting comments by Claire Nowak-Boyd and Rick Bonasch in response to my post "Sounds Like a City."