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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Inside Fourth Baptist Church

A Flickr photographer has posted despressing photographs from the interior of the Fourth Baptist Church at 13th and Sullivan in Old North St. Louis. The worst part of these photographs is how much combustible material is evident.

Readers may recall that the church was struck by a huge fire on September 20, 2008. The fire severely damaged the sanctuary, while firefighters' hose spray caused structural damage to an adjacent house and an attached annex. To date, a fence has been erected on the sidewalks around the wrecked church, but the windows are not yet boarded and evidently the interior is accessible. The small congregation has promised that stabilization work will begin in the spring, and assistance from the St. Louis Baptist community is on the way. Hopefully this promise holds true, because the Fourth Baptist Church, founded in 1851, is one of the region's oldest congregations and deserves wide support in a heroic effort to save the church building.

The photographer concludes that "even after such a gigantic disaster, one can still see how reposed and fine it once was." I concur, although I hold little hope that the entire complex will be rescued from tremendous damage. The sanctuary is vital, however, because it anchors not only the corner but site lines from the south on 13th Street and east on Sullivan Avenue. One can see the church from as far south as Warren Street, and from the east at Ames School. To have that view opened would be a tremendous loss to Old North.


Anonymous said...

Kinda strange being on the other side of the fence right? Did she talk to you or any of the residents as it has been suggested you do when you photograph and caption w/o doing such. I guess if everyone had a blog they could pour their hearts out about promises hopefully kept but usually broken in their neighborhoods. Think about that the next time you photo and caption a whole in the wall that faces a door. Knock on it.

Michael R. Allen said...

Big words from someone who won't even leave a name or email address. By your own logic, you should not be leaving an anonymous comment when my e-mail address (front door to knock on, right?) is prominently displayed on the blog.

You want to talk? Send me an e-mail. Call me. Knock on my home or office door. At least, leave a way for me and my readers to contact you.

I leave it up to you now. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

So Gentry Trotter is even posting here now?

faeriecat said...

i took the photos.

we actually did ask residents in the immediate area what had happened to the church. none of them had any idea what church we were even talking about, let alone that there had been a fire. it was like a case of collective amnesia!

it's a terrible loss, and we were very saddened by it even before we knew the whole story. i am grateful to the owner of this blog for giving me more information, and also for the press. you're doing good work here.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a forum to express yourself not a battle. It's your blog and you allow anon comments(pos or neg). If someone challeges you to do more why call them outside. You have been posting slum -like photos for years and the mere suggestion of holding a conversation with residents are always dismissed. The 1st anon was not picking a fight just making a suggestion, terse but a good suggestion nonetheless. You and those like you are chronicling neighborhoods that are historical and at the same time disappearing. Why wouldn't you want to hear the stories. By the look of the photos the fire was devastating and the residents could not give any information. The photographer didn't know you or anything about your neighborhood. But I'm sure the story of what you are doing is phenomenal. At least she tried.

Much love

Michael R. Allen said...

Anonymous, you don't know me or what I do. I don't have the time or money to post 99% of my work online, nor do I want to. Connections happen between people who share their names and faces, as I always do on the street, at meetings or online. Since this blog is explicitly about architecture and the physical environment, that is what I write about here. It's up to others to tell the rest of the story, because no one -- certainly not me -- can know it all.

Your statement "the mere suggestion of holding a conversation with residents are always dismissed" is untrue and rude, but easy to make behind the Internet masks people wear. You don't know what you are talking about.

If you have missing pieces of the stories to tell, why don't you post them here (anonymously or otherwise) to teach others? With the limited time and energy we all have, we benefit from sharing. Asking one person to do it all is unproductive. No one can do it all. The blogs are conduits we can use to share what we know and keep each other informed. Jump in!

faeriecat said...

this is strictly mho, but i didn't read any "calling out" in michael's reply. he just invited the poster to get in touch with him. i find michael to be very forthcoming and have found out all manner of information about sites i've photographed whose mysteries never would have been solved otherwise. i agree that if others have information or stories to share about sites, this is great place to share them.

Chris said...

Wow, I am more fascinated that the original photographer of the photos of 4th Baptist couldn't find a resident who knew what had happened to the church. Is this a lingering symptom of the malaise that originally caused the neighborhood to weaken in the 60's through 80's? Come on people, let's talk to our neighbors!

Disclaimer: I am not claiming anyone who has commented here doesn't talk to their neighbors.

Andrew said...

Wow... the situational irony is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

s r said...

why do you let the trolls get you down? the anonymous poster is obviously someone with an axe to grind (and who isn't very smart about how to engage you and your readers).

Anonymous said...

Just a random thought. There are few things I trust in, but God and Richard Taylor are at the top of the list. Hope exists.