Monday, June 9, 2008
A few people have asked me about the current demolition of a building at 3126 Locust Street in the Locust Business District just east of Compton Avenue.
The building being demolished unfortunately could not be included in a recent Locust Street Automobile Row Historic District extension due to heavy alterations. While remaining sections of the building show a Spanish Revival facade of stucco and brick, the building was clad in metal paneling until very recently. The installation of the panels damaged the facade, and the owner -- Scott Pohlman, who developed the residential building next door to the east -- elected to demolish the building and build a new residential structure on the site.
In 1888, this was the site of the new First Christian Church building. The present building sections date to 1913 and 1919. A 1919 city directory shows Gill Piston Ring Company and Standard Roller Bearing as tenants. The tenant listing is not surprising; "Automobile Row" on Locus included perhaps more parts manufacturers and distributors than automobile dealers and distributors. Companies like these made St. Louis the "Second Detroit" (almost first).
While 3126 Locust may have been salvaged, and I think it could have been, at least there is a redevelopment plan leading to a beneficial trade-off. There have been too many parking lots added in recent years, especially by St. Louis University -- which makes no secret that parking, not development, is its end goal.