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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lost: Tudor Revival Apartment Building on Warne Avenue

The other day, I passed the southwest corner of Warne and Greelea avenues in the O'Fallon neighborhood and noticed that the apartment building once on the site was gone. The photograph above shows that building, whose address was 4225 Warne, in August 2005. The Land Reutilization Authority wrecked the building in August 2007. Vacant since 1991, the building deteriorated badly under the ownership of Jourdan and Jo Ann Jordan who finally defaulted on taxes, although the couple took out small building permits for work in 2004. Once LRA obtained the property, the roof was missing over half of the building, with massive water damage inside.

So went one of the city's most picturesque multi-family buildings. The Tudor Revival building had a sense of whimsy, as evidenced by the irresistible small turret and the crenellation. The differentiation of setbacks also showed a smart sensibility on the part of the architect. From among a cluster of modest frame buildings arose this masonry jewel on Warne Avenue. Just west, on the opposite side of the street, is Harrison School. Just north is the commercial strip on Florissant Avenue with its southern dip down Warne. This building clearly intended to line up alongside the fancy commercial buildings and hold its own architecturally. For many years, it did.


Anonymous said...

My dad grew up on Warne Ave. and went to Harrison School. It's so sad to see what happened to this once-great neighborhood. The great stories he tells about growing up there could easily be about a neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to investigate the link between Lra and Mckee? Has anyone?

Michael R. Allen said...

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article about the LRA/McEagle relationship last August. The connection seems tenuous -- more of the typical "revolving door" between public and private sector work common among the Lou's consultant class.

What is clear is that transfer of LRA property is impossible withour approval of the ward's alderman. The alderpeople control LRA property, even within the McKee project area. If we don't like LRA practices in a certain area, we can take our complaints straight to our representatives in municipal government. If McKee gets a lot of LRA land, it will be via alderpeople whose wards include that land.

Anonymous said...

Dang, that building was a great contributor to the historic and top quality construction in the O'Fallon neighborhood area. Someone tell us more about this neighborhood before White Flight; the really good housing construction quality and even some Clayton or private place like homes exist near the park making one wonder if this was an affluent enclave for a long time on par with CWE, Clayton, Southside affluent neighborhoods?

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you something about this area before white flight: lots of the properties had restrictive covenenants in the deeds prohibiting the sale of the property to a black family.

Once the Supreme Court ruled such covenants unconstitutional, white flight, real block busting, and the decline of neighborhoods began.

This post is not written to defend restrictive covenants, but rather to shed light on the things that led to the disinvesment of the area.

Rents fell. Property values fell. Demand fell. Hence we now have a dilapidated housing stock in many of these old northside areas - and also one reason why many African Americans are not so big on historic preservation.

For some of them, these old buildings remind them of segregation and discrimination.

Rehabbing them is not the same for someone who experienced racism in their family as it is for someone strictly appreciating historic architecture.