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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Eclectic Italianate House in JeffVanderLou

Sometimes there is a house so exuberant and eccentric that even the most seasoned architectural historian can't help but smile. This house at 3049 Sheridan Avenue in JeffVanderLou is one of those houses. The composition is strange in the best possible way. Here we could have a basic brick two-story Italianate town house with stone front. Yet we don't have that, because the true mansard roof is somewhat low-pitched with a deep overhang. The trapezoidal front dormer with rounded roof belongs on another house. That dormer doesn't quite match the dormers on the east side, which have roofs that mimic the roof form of the house itself.

The east side's trapezoidal bow adds character, and the ornate wooden cornice is continuous on this side. On the west side, where the wall is blind, the wooden cornice makes a transition to some of the most unique brick corbels I've seen in St. Louis. This detail is remarkable considering that historically this side was obscured by another house and these details would scarcely have been seen.

The house is occupied and in fair condition. The bright blue paint of the front elevation seems appropriate to the eclectic Gilded Age style of the house. Make no mistake about it -- architectural historians love to find such houses.


Chris said...

That dormer looks like the one on St. Louis Avenue.

Anonymous said...

The house is pretty . Can we hear something about its occupants? What are they like?

Who are they? Are they active neighborhood people? Do they support Paul McKee?

Are they low income? Did they grow up there? Did they get the house for free from their parents?

Do they travel to other neighborhoods? Do they know what St. Louis Place is? Do they care?

Would they walk away for a pretty penny? Would they walk away for some McKee cash?

What is their vision for N. City?

Anonymous said...

What difference does it make and what is it your business? Paul Mckee's properties exist in three neighborhoods JVL St Louis Place and ONSL. Whoever lives in this home does not need to travel outside their neighborhood to see Mcdevestation. I am sure the residents of St Louis Place do not want to be seen as the poster kids for Mcbricktheft/Mcarson or Mcdisrespect. It has happened in all three places.

This is a beautiful home and I think that the person taking these pictures should spend more time walking around speaking to the residents but I guarantee you and him that if he starts asking them about how they got their homes and how much they would take for them, they will get nowhere.

As I understand the author of this blog lives in ONSL. Has he asked any of his neighbors that question?

Chris said...

Um, yeah, he's asked all sorts of people the last time I checked.

Anonymous said...

The internet is filled with all sorts of snaps of cool buildings, but there's often something missing-the stories of the current or last people living in them.

If there's any personal info, it might be about the original designer, builder, or someone famous who once lived in the house.

The current occupants of a building, or current neighbors, or current neighborhood sentiments, are seldom mentioned.

Concern for old buildings is good. What about the people in the house or the neighborhood? That is often a huge disconnect. Almost so much that the current occupants are seen as irrelevant, if paid any mind at all.

True, in the McKee situation, much has been made of people leaving their properties as a result of Blairmont sales.

However, how much do we know of the personal stories? Were most of these properties voluntary sales? Often times, owners of severely deteriorated buildings are glad for anyone to offer them cash to get out.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:01: thank you for your concern.

Michael R. Allen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael R. Allen said...

I doubt that anyone can post any blog entry about St. Louis Place or JeffVanderLou without getting a string of anonymous comments with innuendo, heresay and blanket accusations about Paul McKee, Old North, neighborhood residents or blog authors.

One possible response to this blog post is recognition of how cool this house is and how wonderful a neighborhood must be to have architecture like this.

Instead, people use the post as occasion to get in cheap shots and negativity, without being honest enough to sign statements with a name.

For one thing, this is a blog about architecture, so it should be no surprise that I write about buildings. For another, I don't have the time or inclination to write about conversations I have on the streets. Some things happen in real life away from a computer screen. Community doesn't get created on a blog, and certainly not through anonymous comments. My hope is that blog entries will inform people's actions in the real world -- get them to notice their world a little more and have information for community discussions.

Anonymous said...

What about Project 86 and Project 87? Those are nuisance property laws.

Isn't the problem with brick rustling mainly on abandoned, vacant buildings, often owned by LRA?

Is the city supposed to fine itself?

Anonymous said...

BTW: I love the corbelling. One of the things I find particularly distressing is the fact that all the craftmansship that went into a building like this is wiped from the face of the Earth whenever a building like this falls(well, STOLEN). I wonder who the bricklayers were on this house? Which of the dozens of woodworking shops is responsible for the woodwork? Which of the 800 foudries present in the City at around this time made the metal exterior work? Which of the brick refractories made the brick? Who was the stone mason who cut the limestone facing? It seems that when we tear down a building, we are engaging in a deliberate act of forgetting. A willful ignorance of the place, its' occupants--past and present--and the men who built it. It's almost as if we are ashamed of the "old". As if, somehow, removing the structure will eliminate from our memories the knowledge that a place existed at all. Pity for those who seek oblivion: our brains don't work that way. Having finished my usual rant, I notice that this house looks like it's being held together by duct tape and bailing wire. Such a collage of materials were installed to effect repairs. This house needs love...and about 100,000USD to set it right. For another hundred years.