Monday, March 31, 2008

Chicago Gothic Revival

This great building in downtown Chicago on the Magnificent Mile is the way skyscrapers should be built; right up to the street with shopping on the first floor. None of that "tower in a park" crap that got so popular in the Twentieth Century. Note the decorative brickwork on the side of the building; while it is relatively simple, it dresses up the otherwise blank party wall.The wonderful Gothic Revival details perhaps could be criticized for looking backwards while the technology of the building was pushing forward with steel skeleton construction.The Hershey's store is on the ground floor; I know, not exactly local business, but better than it being empty. Perhaps national chains wanting to come to a city without having to be begged is a good sign.In fact, 100 years ago in American downtowns, national chains meant that your city was thriving.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I ran into these houses when I was out and about one day in South St. Louis.The one below is my favorite; it looks like a French chateau in the middle of the neighborhood.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Two Mansions on Lindell

While the more exclusive private streets nearby hold a vast wealth of stunning architecture, there are a couple of stately homes on the corner of Kingshighway and Lindell that deserve mentioning. I like the one below more than the one above, because it reminds me of one of my favorite mansions in Washington, DC. Look at that house here, at the Indonesian Embassy website and you can see the similarities.The most striking aspect of the house is the round turret, which seems almost to be a distant holdover from Richardsonian Romanesque, but in a Beaux-Arts, Gilded Age sort of way. Note the false windows that contain the chimney flues, presumably.The port-coacher is a great detail, if a bit narrow for a modern automobile.I imagine that Lindell and Kingshighway were not the racetracks that they are nowadays; sadly, these houses now sit in what I would consider a traffic purgatory.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Macklind Avenue

I saw a show on KSDK talking about the Macklind Avenue Business District, so I went and checked it out a few months back. It is relatively small, but it has a cool mixture of local businesses. No McDonalds here.Streets like these are what gets people out of their cars and walking to do their basic shopping.Below is an example of your typical, stable Southwest St. Louis street with tidy homes within two minutes of a coffee shop and deli.Check out the beer selection at the Macklind Avenue Deli. Not quite as good as the place on Jefferson in McKinley Heights, but still respectable; they need more German and Belgian brews.You can even worship within walking distance of your house.

Monday, March 24, 2008

North County Modernist Office Building

While I once detested Modernist architecture in my more strident days, through visiting BELT and Built St. Louis, I have gained an appreciation for the 1950's buildings in St. Louis. Perhaps it's also due to the fact that St. Louis has some of the best examples of the period compared to other cities I've lived in, such as Baltimore and DC, which have exceedingly ugly mid-century construction.This office building, at the end of Bermuda Road, is a great example of the unity of older materials such as brick with newer, "space age" materials as aluminum windows, and those strange fins on the second floor.The simply, geometric brickwork reminds me of the recently demolished River Roads Mall.The building is for sale, if you want it. Check out an aerial view here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Gate District

The Gate District, or as some people call it now, Lafayette Square West is one of those areas that doesn't quite fit into North or South St. Louis. Sandwiched between two major interstates, the area saw intense demolition decades ago, and now is a strange pastiche of new-urbanist and historic housing. A surprisingly large number of original buildings survive in the area.Below is a corner store, with a distinctive sign still attached to the outside.Below is an interesting asymmetrical double archway.The house below has been for sale for a long time, probably because it needs a complete overhaul.Here is another great example of the storefront architecture in the area.Is the Gate District a great example of urban renewal, or a complete disaster? Emotions seem to run high over the debate of whether the Gate District is legitimate urbanist renewal, or merely an impostor. The bird's eye view gives a great view of the contrasting centuries of construction.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Blairmont on Knapp Street

Knapp Street in Old North St. Louis is a short, two block long street that is barricaded with Schoemehl Pots on the north end, effectively rendering the street highly isolated. The following houses appear to be abandoned, and the first is 3248.These two small houses, which could be very, very old, sit further south on the street at 3240 and 3242.This heavily damaged and deteriorating hulk set far back from the street is 3261.
I felt bad photographing this street, as an elderly woman came out and was looking at me, as her two dogs barked at me. I don't blame her suspicion of outsiders in the neighborhood; in my experience outsiders are usually to blame for crime in other people's neighborhoods. I can only imagine what unethical action she thought I was engaging in, photographing what appear to be just four more abandoned, neglected buildings in the city.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Blairmont on N. 20th Street

Blairmont has apparently moved into a neighborhood of considerable redevelopment: Old North St. Louis. Just about the entire 3200 block of 20th Street is now owned by the shady consortium. Below is 3236.Here is 3237--I think. It may be the vacant lot next door; it's hard to tell when people don't put house numbers out. But the telephone book sitting unclaimed on the front porch makes this house look abandoned, even with its shiny mail slot.Here is 3238, which looks occupied with a car in the background.And finally, here is 3239, which is a wonderful house that has been snatched from the hands of renovators who certainly would have tried to renovate this house.Are these houses the wildest and most exciting houses in the city? Of course not, but occupied and renovated, they help contribute to the fabric of the city.

A Blog detailing the beauty of St. Louis architecture and the buildup of residue-or character-that accumulates over the course of time.