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Sunday, July 15, 2007

One Lovely Storefront Building in JeffVanderLou

This beautiful corner commercial building stands at the southeast corner of Glasgow and St. Louis avenues in JeffVanderLou. (The mansard-roofed tenement to the east is also worthy of appreciation.) The date is likely some time in the 1880s. The front elevation on St. Louis is clad in white Missouri limestone over a cast-iron storefront and under a galvanized sheet metal cornice. One charming detail is the recessed, chamfered storefront entrance that creates one of those delightful corner triangular stoops found on many local commercial buildings. The limestone wraps the corner on Glasgow, but after one window bay the wall is brick. Overall, the stylistic effect is Italianate.

One detail that mesmerizes me when I look at this building is on the side elevation, where the galvanized cornice ends. Here, brick corbelling continues the cornice line. However, the classical formalism of the bracketed cornice gives way to abstract masonry, where all angles are right and nary a curve can be found. The tenor of the cornice line changes sharply, but the line itself extends so that even the secondary elevation has an articulated crown. The different treatments only give the eye yet one more different element to look at -- one more demonstration of the expressive qualities of 19th century architectural vernacular.

This building is large for a corner commercial building, with ample space on the upper floors for residential or office uses. It is located just two blocks east of Grand Avenue. At the corner of Grand and St. Louis, the even larger Grand-St. Louis Building, recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is about to undergo renovation. While blocks south and east of the corner of St. Louis and Glasgow are marked by open land and vacancy, the blocks west and north are mostly occupied and well-kept. This building is at a pivotal point in JeffVanderLou, and its future reuse is both feasible and meaningful for the neighborhood.

The building is owned by VHS Partners LLC, a holding company controlled by developer Paul J. McKee, Jr. as part of his large-scale north side redevelopment project. Hopefully its preservation is part of his plan; he is fortunate to own such a unique building with amazing potential.

Unfortunately, according to records on Geo St. Louis, the city Building Division condemned the building for demolition on May 8, 2007. A separate two-story alley building behind this building has also been condemned for demolition, although given the fact that brick thieves have removed nearly two whole walls, the condemnation is more understandable. The storefront building at the corner is in sound condition.


GMichaud said...

I have admired this corner building for years. It is a disappearing 3 story style of building that was once common is St. Louis an now is rare. (Cass Avenue between the river and Jefferson was loaded with this type of building just a few years ago) This building was occupied just a few months ago, If it is up for demolition it probably relates to the Paul McKee cancer that has spread in the Northside.
The city is working for Mckee. The people have to take control, that is clear. A quick investigation will show this building was a functioning little store until just recently.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't the title of this post be "Once Lovely Storefront Building in JeffVanderLou"?

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