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Monday, July 21, 2008

Vanishing Bakery

Currently under demolition, an old bakery complex stands at the northwest corner of Cook and Sarah avenues inthe Vandeventer neighborhood. While not as large or as architecturally refined as some of the larger bakeries of the city, the complex here typifies the smaller bakeries that were opnce sources of neighborhood employment across the city's working-class neighborhoods.

While growing into a complex of at least four different sections, this complex had its start as a small neighborhood bakery operated out of the two-story brown brick corner building. The permit for the corner building dates to January 6, 1904, when baker F.J. Schneider (who resided nearby at 1115 S. Sarah) took out a permit for a $13,000 facility. The bakery may have been small, but that cost is not insignificant. H.F. Holke (office at 2583 Wrne Avenue) served as contractor and little-known Otto Bachner (office in the Wainwright Building) was architect. These names indicate the extent of German settlement in this part of north St. Louis.

Schneider continued to expand his operation, adding oven in 1905. The operation was called, oddly enough, the "French Bakery." In 1909, Schneider built a two-story stable on the alley side, hiring A.H. Haesseler as architect. The 1909 Sanborn fire insurance map captures this point in the bakery's history:

Here we see the bakery building at the corner, showing the first floor partitions and the three bake ovens then in place. This map shows that the block was essentially a residential block, with houses just a few hundred feet from the hot, pungent world of the bakers. However, just west of the bakery the map shows a "bottle works" operating along the alley behind a house. (That building was later incorporated into the bakery.) This mix of uses was not uncommon in the early 20th century even in well-kept neighborhoods west of Grand Avenue. Our ancestors were doing the "live-work" lifestyle long before it got any coverage in Dwell.
In 1910, Schneider again expanded, taking out a $19,000 permit for "alterations to a second-class bakery." Hartmann Building and Construction Company served as contractor. Additional permits from 1918 show installation of four more ovens and significant alterations. By 1919, the bakery was owned by Nafziger Baking Company. That company continued to expand the facility, and on February 18, 1928 took out a $42,000 permit to build a two-story addition to the west of the 1904 building, most of which is missing in my photographs. This particular bakery ended its baking days as the Taystee Bakery, operated by the American Bakeries Company.

The robust concrete-framed inudtrial buildings showed few signs of deterioration when owner Transformation Christian Church took out a permit this year for demolition. Located in the 19th Ward, which is not covered by the city's opt-out preservation review laws, the demolition was never reviewed by the Cultural Resources Office.


Chris said...

Sigh, yet another beautiful building destroyed at the hands of a church.

Anonymous said...

What's the story with the Vandeventer neighborhood? Why has it lost so many buildings? It seems to be one of the most devastated areas of the city.