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Monday, November 17, 2008

Lost: 4405 & 4409 Evans Avenue

I have taken so many photographs of north St. Louis buildings that I often fall behind in tracking the subjects. The buildings shown above are a good example, since this photograph dates to August 2005, their demolition took place in 2006 and I noticed their loss in 2008.

When I stumbled upon this pair on Evans Avenue in Lewis Place I was struck by the versatility of the pyramidal turret. At left, the house at 4409 Evans Avenue uses the turret to punctuate the top of a projecting bay window.

The otherwise plain house stood out with the addition of that striking but basic architectural form. Next door, the flats at 4405 Evans use the turret in a different way.

Brick quoins and terra cotta panels adorned the Classical Revival building, but that center-placed turret was the crown. Rising above the flared gable's peak, the turret drew the eye toward the sky, balancing the view of the building with a strong sense of the natural world around it. The architect's skyward aspirations were immodest but also inspiring. Here, as in so many other instances in St. Louis, a building for the common person was addressing the street with architectural finery and any power above with a tall turret.

The vacant lot now on this site draws the eye downward, at ragged grass and the droppings of careless pedestrians and motorists. There is nothing transformational about the vacant lot, and no hint of any aspiration -- even toward reuse of the site.


Anonymous said...

This North St. Louis neighborhood needs the mass influx of rehabbers FPSE, Benton Park, TGE, etc. style. Most of North City needs to kick into rehab gear if we want St. Louis to become a nationally attractive city like Madison, WI; Austin, TX; New York, NY; Portland, OR; and Boulder, CO. St. Louis City has the potential to rise above its Rust Belt breathren (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Youngstown, Toledo, Detroit, Milwaukee, Ann Arbor, etc) because the economy still favors the region enough to keep ahead of these breathren.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 1:24 AM,

How would you do it?

How would you draw a "mass influx" of rehabbers to this North Side neighborhood?

The cities you cite for comparison-Madison, Austin, NY, Portland, and Boulder - are all much higher income places with higher property values than St. Louis, especially North St. Louis.

We need to work with what we have, and make the most of it. There's already lots of historic rehab going on in St. Louis.

If you'd rather live in those other places, go for it, but don't use them to say we're not doing enough.

We're different than they are, and should be valued based on what we are, not how attractive they are.

Frankly, I would not rather live in any of those places, regardless of what happens at 4405 and 09 Evans.

If it matters to you, that's your perogative.

Robert Powers said...

Erm... the principles of urban revival are largely the same everywhere.

Just because St. Louis is "different" from other cities is no reason not to look at what they've done and learn from it.

Anonymous said...

The problem is you can't fix Rome in a day (pardon the cliche), and to try to go at the toughest areas first is the most difficult, highest risk approach.

What has worked is incremental change, as markets improve, building on strength.

That's why Benton Park followed Soulard, Old North, near downtown, is leading the north side, and TGE is following Shaw and TGS.

Working in the middle of the 22nd ward is different than working in the middle of the 14th ward.

Broad statements like "Most of North City needs to kick into rehab gear if we want St. Louis to become a nationally attractive city like ____ " are just way too general.

Doug Duckworth said...

We might fix North St. Louis if not for the divestment of land assembling pirates who rape our city of residents, architectural assets, and ultimately the future potential tax revenue our City requires.