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

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


The row of houses at 2917-25 N. 13th Street (at center) in Old North St. Louis being painted back in 1984. (Photo from the collection of Landmarks Association of St. Louis.)

The now-vacant, city-owned row of houses at 2917-25 N. 13th Street in Old North St. Louis on December 21, 2005.

The row of vacant city-owned houses at 2917-25 N. 13th Street in Old North St. Louis on February 8, 2008. A winter storm led to the collapse of the roof of the southern building.

The row of vacant city-owned houses at 2917-25 N. 13th Street in Old North St. Louis on July 20, 2008. A mysterious fire the night before led to the collapse of the northern section.
Previous coverage: A Middle Path? (February 12, 2008)

UPDATE: The What's New In Old North blog has posted another Old North progression -- this one from decay to new life: "The History and Transformation of Old North, as seen in one building"


Matt Fernandez said...

That is so disappointing. If only I had some more money I would have taken on these before the winter collapse.

Anonymous said...

Is this relative to the other fires in JVL and STL Place? Now that homes are burning in ONSL will there be a public statement by that neighborhood group about the destruction of the by Mckee and the City?

Anonymous said...

anonymous must not be paying attention because I have been to neighborhood meetings where the executive director of the ONSLRG has spoken out forcely against Paul McKee and I have read letters--perhaps even referenced on this website--from others associated with this organization that make similar forceful statements.

Homes have been burning in the 5th Ward way before Paul McKee showed up. To suggest that the Old North St. Louis neighborhood has been immune to derelict and abandoned buildings is ridiculous.

Perhaps anonymous would like to do a head count of "leaders" in the 5th and 19th ward and see who is complicit in allowing the destruction of the community under Paul McKee's tutelage. Top of the list would be the pretended progressive savior of the city, Rodney R. Hubbard, but you would be surprised at which other "progressives" have been chummy with McKee over the past months.

Maybe anonymous has the guts to tell what the real beef with ONSLRG is?

Anonymous said...

I said public statement. ONSLRG meetings are private neighborhood meetings. Blog entries go further but as I post ANON so do you who are posting ANON. Hello?

Anonymous said...

I don't go to the ONSLRG meetings, so I have no idea what is said in them.

The statement by the executive director was at a public meeting called by the aldermen of the ward. The letter by another ONSLRG official was widely distributed on the web as well as referenced in a published article.

I repeat, anonymous #1, what is your beef with ONSLRG and what does it concern? If you know something that the rest of the world doesn't know, stop jiving and shuffling and STEP UP.

Anonymous said...

jiving? I'll leave that to the ONSLRG. If there had been any public statements made on the corner of St Louis Ave and 14th, I missed those. I don't know what impact the E.D. statement made or a blog letter. But I do know that those were done LAST YEAR. My beef with ONSLRG is the pathological ignorance of their community's downward spiral. We all know that Hubbard is an Uncle Tom, and that Ford-Griffin is incompetent (have you read the RFT cover story? Talk about being out of touch with the needs of her ward). But we also know that when it is time for a photo op, ONSLRG can pitch that podium quicker that flies on shit. So where is that cute little podium I saw Hubbard and Smith standing behind telling us that development is good when the public found out about Mckee even though ONSLRG knew about it years before everyone else and the rally to shame the players? Everyone does not have the internet and that includes a large group of people that live in the 5th ward. Hit the streets. Don't be arm-chair revolutionaries. Or is this case keyboard revolutionaries. Get on the street or on top of one of those newly rehabbed buildings on 14th street and shout to the tops of your lungs that this is "FUCKED UP and no matter how much it cost us we are going to say something!" (you know outside for all to hear) Am I presuming they care about their neighbors? Maybe they don't. If I had a beef that would be it. It takes a village to raise a child but how many people does it take to raise hell?

Anonymous said...

"Now that homes are burning in ONSL will there be a public statement by that neighborhood group about the destruction of the by Mckee and the City?"

For one thing, only one house burned, so the phrase "homes are burning" is a gross exaggeration.

For another, the house was owned by LRA, not McKee.

If ONSLRG used a _possible_ arson of a city-owned building as the starting point for a public statement on McKee, that group would not only look stupid it would BE stupid.

We have LRA properties, McKee properties, kids with fireworks, decades of city neglect, poverty hustlers, stupid politicians and a whole host of other problems. They aren't all part of one conspiracy. They're symptoms of decline -- decline ONSLRG has actually reversed to some extent. Don't you appreciate that? I'm glad ONSLRG doesn't waste its time on making ineffective statements about McKee and spends its time bringing millions of dollars into development.

Anonymous said...

City neglect, dumbasses in office, Decline, Brick theft, Mckee all symptoms to one wicked illness a continued effort to get people to leave. Anyone who lives in the areas of the Mckee/LRA stronghold on delapitated parts of the near north fell like "what's the difference?" But if we are going to sit on your hands and wait until another home burns do that. But don't be surprised when it happens. So instead of how many people does it take to raise hell. How about how many arsons(sorry suspicious fires), how many brick thefts(sorry spontaneous wall/roof collapses) how many ignored 911 calls(sorry trespasing citations instead of real investigations), how long will it take for the organized neighborhood groups(sorry restoration groups)to respond? How long will it take before all this that you cherish is gone along with your millions of dollars of development? I'm just asking. I love the idea that one does not have anything to do with the other. But as you can see from this blog and others Paul Mckee/City Hall climbed into bed 4yrs ago and started a love affair that has gone unchecked. Also before/after photos are all over the place of what was and it's a pitiful cop-out for anyone who lives anywhere near to deny that more could have been done by just crossing Florissant and talking to someone or placing a flyer in someone's windsheild. Now that a trickle of reports is turning into a stream, a strong neighborhood organization could change that stream into a river of information. Someone posted something about "guts." I think guts is what ONSLRG needs to get off the fence and pronounce themselves neighbors not some self-serving entity counting dollars.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a row house that constitutes multi-family. Apples/oragnes though you all are so easily distracted. The fact is that you all need to work together. Remember divide and conquer.

Anonymous said...

easily distracted....very well said

Anonymous said...

I think that the ONSLRG-bashing Anonymous must be on the McKee payroll. Good plan to trash the only organization that is getting quality development done that balances newcomers' desires for historic preservation, affordable rental housing for long-time and new residents, homeownership, commercial development on a thoroughly urban model. All operating as a grassroots nonprofit with a diverse board. They truly represent all reisdents, not just homeowners trying to score more condemnation hearing money or LRA land.

This is contra McKee's top-down private model. Even if you have differences, why air them in public without trying to build an alliance? Aren't there bigger issues at stake, as you point out? Have you even called or visited the ONSLRG office? Doors are always open. Better yet, join as a member and make your voice heard from within. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

If you lie with dogs you wake up with fleas. Are you itching yet ONSL?

Michael R. Allen said...

The Old North St. Louis Restoration Group has done more to address the McKee situation than anyone knows, and perhaps more than most stakeholders in the area. I find the anonymous comments here baseless and disappointing. Clearly, Anonymous knows little about ONSLRG and the steps it has taken to advance citizen interest in this issue. These aren't things done online, but in the real world, in the light of day. Call the ONSLRG office and they'll tell you the whole truth.

In fact, ONSLRG has maintained a degree of transparency about their involvement unusual for a community development corporation. I've dealt with others and only wish they had been as forthcoming and as responsive to constituents. Alongside this work they have continued to make positive efforts to get real development here, to assist homeowners through loan and grant programs, to provide social services, to maintain political alliances, etc. Most important, ONSLRG maintains a positive message that attracts people to live on the near north side. In the face of uncertainty, ONSLRG has helped stabilize a neighborhood that could easily have been on the chopping block. That alone has been a huge inroad against whatever big plans are on the way. While obviously this work is neighborhood-specific (the charter of the organization limits its work geographically), it's a great model for adjacent neighborhoods. Plus, ONSLRG would be an excellent part of any coalition of near north neighborhoods, should one develop.

My advice to residents facing anxiety on the near north side is to put down the stones and start your own neighborhood organization based on a positive vision. Involve ONSLRG. Take the lessons, build capacity and change the narrative of the near north side from a "downward spiral" (which it IS NOT unless you let it be) to one of hope and greatness ahead. Personally, I think rehtoric about how terrible things are in our neighborhoods is the best PR for anyone who wants to bulldoze the near north side. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy -- if we give it up in spirit or deed, it's someone else's land to take. Let's work together to defend it.