We've Moved

Ecology of Absence now resides at www.preservationresearch.com. Please change your links and feeds.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

More on Hyde Park "Security Wall"

Yesterday we posted about a security wall that Shreves Engine Company wants to build in Hyde Park, which would require them to tear down nine houses to make room for it.

Naturally, 3rd Ward Alderman Bosley approves this project.

Well, Mayor Slay has now written on his website that he is impressed with the idea, and may likely support it. He cites that this particular type of wall, gabion walls, "are really hot architectural elements in Europe."

You know what else is popular in architecture in large parts of Europe, that's also a green building strategy? Not tearing down historic buildings!!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Hyde Park Regression Continues

Hyde Park continues to suffer from stagnation and loss. Look at these proposed demolition plans:

Shreves Engine Company plans to demolish nine houses for some inane "security wall" plan that Alderman Freeman Bosley supports.

The Phillips 66 gas station at Salisbury and Eleventh, owned by Nidal Othman, wants to tear down the Cordes Hardware buildings. Some may recall the days when Cordes was still open with an old-time charm on par with Marx Hardware down in Old North. (Bosley opposes this demolition, although he has offered no substantial aid to the owner or others trying to renovate destabilized buildings in this neighborhood.)

These projects seriously compromise the intact density of historic buildings in this neighborhood. They must be defeated.

There's also a big stir about a development underway between Natural Bridge, Salisbury and West Florissant avenues on the western end of Hyde Park. Here, Bethlehem Luthern Church has financed a development of new houses and apartments -- not urban in character, of course -- that has involved a liberal use of eminent domain. This development has some Hyde Park residents up in arms due to questionable offers made to affected property owners and the attack on poor homeowners the Church is accused of leading. Last night, a group of 25 neighborhood residents joined with the Citizens' Coalition to Fight Eminent Domain and marched to Bosley's home on Bremen Avenue to make their demands.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Talk About a Bridge

The Missouri and Illinois departments of transportation will get the public's ideas about the Mississippi River bridge project at a series of meetings at these locations next month:

Tuesday, Aug. 2
Webster Middle School
2127 North 11th Street
St. Louis
4 to 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 9
Clyde Jordan Senior Center
6755 State Street
East St. Louis
4 to 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 10
Venice Recreation Center
305 Broadway
4 to 7 p.m.

Check out the St. Louis footprint of the bridge on the link above. I'll bet that you didn't realize how, uh, disruptive the bridge will be to the built environment. The good news is that lack of funding will probably doom the huge ugly ramp to 14th Street that would basically wall off the near north side from downtown. There's no way that the renovation efforts in Old North St. Louis and Hyde Park would benefit from the loss of a major street and construction of a suburban monstrosity that would take down more than a few old buildings.

As it is, there's a lot wrong with just the bridge that needs discussion.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Seeking Blairmont

Just saw this post (copied below) on Craigslist. It's great to know that someone wants to save the James Clemens, Jr. House. It's distressing to know that Blairmont Associates LC is causing yet another annoyance to a rehabber; Blairmont owns many properties on the Near North Side of St. Louis and is notoriously hard to reach. No one can find out anything about Blairmont except that a man named Harry Noble supposedly owns the company -- but even that isn't verified. A search through the Missouri Secretary of State's corporation registry reveals that the "CT Corporation System" registered the name "Blairmont Associates LC" on behalf of an anonymous party or parties.

Many of Blairmont's properties seem to be vacant lots in Old North St. Louis, St. Louis Place and other neighborhoods, although the company recently purchased a vacant St. Louis Public Schools property at 2333 Benton.

Other people report needing to make agreements with Blairmont to repair shared utilities or utilities that run through Blairmonnt properties, and having difficulty finding a phone number.

If you know anything about Blairmont, please post a comment here and maybe we'll be able to help Lyra and others who are interested in contacting the company.

Contact info for Blairmont Associates LC?
Reply to: thegamestlouis@yahoo.com
Date: 2005-06-19, 1:58AM CDT

Do you know how I can get in touch with a company called "Blairmont Associates LC"? aka Blairmont Associates, Blairmont Associates Limited Company.

They buy and sell property in St. Louis, and they currently own (bought just this April) a house on Cass Avenue that I am *REALLY* interested in purchasing... the Clemens House. I have fallen in love with this abandoned house, and intend to restore it to it's old glory. The house's history is intriguing (Buddhists, nuns, insanity, and the title of "the Taj Mahal of St. Louis"), and the history of the family that built it in 1858 - James Clemens, Jr - is even better (James Clemens Jr was Mark Twain's uncle, and helped found the city's first electric company and first bank, among other things). The house itself is beautiful, but dying, and I want to help this city landmark return to it's golden days.

Problem is, Blairmont Associates LC's last address is on Olive Street, and they are no longer there. I have been unsuccessful in finding their current address, or their phone number; although I do know that they are under a corporation based in Clayton called "CT Corporation System."

If anyone out there has any info on the address, phone numbers, owners/officers of this company, or anything I might have missed, the information would so very appreciated! Please contact me (Lyra) at thegamestlouis@yahoo.com

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

...in the details

The new Marriott Hotel rising on Jefferson Avenue near downtown St. Louis is a prime example of "architecture-by-numbers": something that may look good on paper but turns out to be hideously banal. (I don't think this building looks good on paper -- there's no nuance to its lines and its site is parking-dominated.) The building's so-so buff brick base is complete and now the upper floors are being covered in stucco that will no doubt be painted the red that the drawings show. On the renderings, that red area could be brick -- there are no fine details drawn.

(I'll try to find an image of the architectural renderings to post here.)

When assessing the appropriateness of new construction to an older urban area, don't trust renderings of buildings. Look at the materials specifications.

In those specifications lie the code of the city's decline. We should demand better.

Giles collection, Building Arts Foundation in the news

We returned to St. Louis today to find this article:

Salvager gets his act together

It's good to see some media recognition of the massive project that the St. Louis Building Arts Foundation is undertaking -- although the article's title is poorly-chosen.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

News from Gary, Indiana

City Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana faces the threat of demolition. The imposing Gothic church, built in 1925 through the aid of US Steel founder and congregation member Elbart Gary, faces demolition for a parking lot.

We'll keep you updated as this story develops. There is still hope to save the main sanctuary building, and we will be doing all we can to help Gary save the building.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Citizens' Service Bureau Works

Like many other St. Louis citizens, I filed a complaint with the Citizens' Service Bureau (CSB) this week. Mine was against a certain slumlord-style landlord whose workers had piled a Hyde Park yard waste dumpster with carpeting remnants last week. When a police officer contacted me about the complain, he mentioned another complaint against the same guy for dumping on a vacant lot -- in a far-south block of Michigan!

The good news is that my call tipped the police officer to the fact that it was the same guy -- he had yet to run a search for the property owner. I also mentioned that this particular owner had held the property in Hyde Park under a business name until the Building Division refused to grant another occupancy permit to that company. He then "sold" the building back to himself and obtained a permit earlier this year.

The officer now knows he's dealing with a serial slumlord.

If I had not complained to the CSB, the police may not have built any case against this man and his propensity for less-than-legal dumping. While not always swift, the CSB generally works. But it only works when people use it.

Monday, July 4, 2005


Guess who dropped in for the Downtown Defense Fundraiser last weekend...