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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Creating a Preservation Fund

In a post entitled "A Dedicated Fund For Historic Preservation In STL?" at STL Rising, Rick Bonsach raises the point that St. Louis lacks a dedicated emergency historic preservation fund. The existence of such a fund would have aided Old North St. Louis with stabilizing the storm-damaged Mullanphy Emigrant Home (pictured above in the "better" days of December 2006).

Bonasch suggests that the topic be discussed among those who attend tonight's fundraiser for the Mullanphy (at the Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood from 5-7:30 p.m.; details here).

The discussion should continue past tonight. With rising interest in historic preservation in north side neighborhoods hampered by strong weather, arson and metal thieves, such a fund could establish a sustainable effort to ensure that some funds are available for emergency stabilization. Such a fund could empower neighborhoods who might otherwise consider demolition as the only practical option. Many neighborhoods on the north side are far from having strong markets for historic buildings, but with assistance will undoubtedly reach that point.

The first response to Bonasch in his comments section is dismissive and seems to presuppose government footing the bill for the fund. Bonasch replies that he envisions the private sector administering the fund. After all, the Mullanphy effort has yet to collect a dollar of city money -- and probably will not. The momentum is building regardless.

(Some have joked that instead of a preservation fund what is most urgently needed is an advocacy group against our new forms of severe weather.)

Bonasch's post raises interesting questions:

Does St. Louis have the energy and vision to continue working for emergency stabilization efforts after the Mullanphy is rebuilt?

Can we sustain the effort foe years to come?

Can we successfully collect money for the effort in the absence of a targeted project like the Mullanphy?

Are there existing organizations or people who may have established a suitable foundation for such work?

Should city government be involved?

Would St. Louisans be willing to have any tax money go into the creation of such a fund?

Are their existing municipal funds that could be used for stabilization instead of demolition?


Anonymous said...

Can we successfully collect money for the effort in the absence of a targeted project like the Mullanphy?

A more timely question is whether or not money can be collected for a targeted project like the Mullanphy.


Anonymous said...

This idea or approach is much to proactive for the citizens of St. Louis and city government to grasp. The notion of citizens in St. Louis to accept tax funding to be allocated to an organization that saves empty, aging buildings will not happen period. They will not back it if they do not see something tangible gained by this. And driving past a building that their tax dollars benefited will not suffice.

The approach taken by ONSL and its community members should be applauded and used as a template for other neighborhoods. However we live in a society that is much more reactive than proactive.

Anonymous said...

Approximately 150 showed up for tonight's Mullanphy affair, and the dollars raised were approaching $10,000 by about 7:15 PM.

Apparently there are some people who care about historic preservation. This was a fun group of St. Louis people.