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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Plaza Square Apartments Listed on National Register of Historic Places

From Landmarks Association of St. Louis:

The Plaza Square Apartments Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on July 12, 2007. Located between 15th, Olive, 17th and Chestnut Streets in downtown St. Louis, the district includes St. John the Apostle & Evangelist Catholic Church from 1860 and Centenary Methodist Church from 1870 as well as the signature high-rise apartments completed in 1961. The Plaza Square apartment complex, the cornerstone accomplishment of the city’s first Urban Renewal project, was designed by the newly formed Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum architectural firm in collaboration with Harris Armstrong—an acclaimed leader of the Modern Movement in the Midwest. Evenly divided into two different configurations with a total of 1,090 apartments, the six buildings utilized native limestone, brick, concrete and colorful enameled metal panels (most now painted tan) to create a sleek contemporary aesthetic enhanced by balconies, landscaped grounds and underground parking

Although the "skyscraper home in a garden" initially attracted urbanites of all ages, Plaza Square soon experienced increasing vacancy rates. In 1965, Building # 60 at the southeast corner of 17th and Olive Streets was sold to Bethesda General Hospital which converted it into the Town House retirement community. Now dubbed BLU CitySpaces by a new owner, Building #60 is being converted to condominiums utilizing historic rehab tax credits. Thanks to the National Register nomination prepared by Landmarks Association for that developer, the other five buildings (which have been subjected to repeated foreclosures) are also prime candidates for reinvestment.


Anonymous said...

Hip-hip-hooray! I can't wait to see the remaining 5 buildings undergo the same (or similar) treatment as BLU...

Joe said...

Interesting... with this and Council Plaza, the early urban renewal high-rises are getting historic status.

Imagine if LaClede Town had stood for a few more years... maybe it could have been refurbished and sold off as townhouses! Not saying that would have been the best option, because Harris-Stowe's expansion is a good thing as well.

Would Heritage House (2800 Olive) also now be eligible for historic designation, or is it not as architecturally significant as Council Plaza? Both were built for the same purpose: housing retirees from a particular union. But I guess the Teamsters had more money than the Teachers at the time.

But, I'd still rather have kept the buildings that Mill Creek Valley and Plaza Square replaced. Although, to its credit, the Plaza Square redevelopment preserved the churches; in Mill Creek, something like 40 churches were demolished, with only Berea Presbyterian preserved and expanded. I guess SLU owns the Berea complex now.

tobyweiss.com said...

This bodes well for exceptional mid-century modern architecture in this city. Plaza Square was accepted without being a minimum of 50 years old, so that removes ONE barrier for designation.

Unknown said...

Congratulations on the successful listing of Plaza Square Apartments. It's a good step in the right direction for mid-century modern architecture, setting a good precedent for further listings.