Friday, August 29, 2008

Harry Hammerman House

KWMU featured a story on the Henry Hammerman House at this link. Also, Landmarks recently featured the house as well here. It is quite an extraordinary house, inspired by the great Frank Lloyd Wright and now being lovingly restored and expanded tastefully.

Spolia Part 1

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Building Arts Foundation, Sauget

The Building Arts Foundation in Sauget is truly incredible; it is housed in a former steel casting foundry. See their website here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sauget, Illinois

Valley Park: Epicenter of Historic Preservation?

I just read in the Suburban Journals that the mayor of Valley Park is actually working to save an historic building in his city from the expansion of Carol House Furniture. Read the article here. After the complete demolition of historic Ballwin for "Olde Towne Ballwin Center," I had been fearing for the eventual loss of most of the historic, semi-rural fabric of West County. Let's hope they're successful in stopping the demolition of Donahue's.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Calvary Cemetery Prairie

It recently came to my attention via a newspaper article that virgin prairie still exists inside the confines of the sprawling Calvary Cemetery in North St. Louis.It is worth checking out at the far northern end of the cemetery.What is even more jarring is that the city ceases to exist around the prairie, save for a church steeple in nearby Baden.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Calvary Cemetery Columbarium

A weekend ago I officially found the weirdest place in the city of St. Louis: the Columbarium of Calvary Cemetery.The two above bronze statues guard one of the entrances to the building, one with a rather uncomfortable depiction of a priest with his hands on a young boy's shoulders.The interior, to paraphrase Rob Powers, is meant to be homey, but ends up being just the opposite, with long, marble clad walls and the still ubiquitous bug zappers (do they really need that many?).The rotunda, seen above and below, is likewise a strange mix of Modernism and Early Christian Revival mosaics, creating a strange serene space at the end of the second floor.The strange statue upon a complex base of multi-colored stone anchors the first floor lobby.Below is one of the main side aisles that hold the various columbaria for the dead.The chapel is absolutely beautiful, even with the missing altarpiece which can be seen in situ at Built St. Louis. The stain glass is stunning, and surrounded by the eerie silence, sublime.

Below, the two pictures illustrate the dramatically different light effects of photographing what appears to be a Raising of Lazurus with an without a flash.

Above and below is one of the strange statues of the evangelists arranged around the first floor lobby, carved in what seems to be blue soapstone. The effects of the different levels of polish on the statue creates an interesting effect.Calvary Cemetery holds many interesting discoveries. See additional photographs at Built St. Louis.

Odds and Ends

The On Your Side column, which I regularly read in the Post-Dispatch, is featuring the crumbling but still salvageable Carr School in the Near North Side this week.

Also, what I found interesting in light of a recent conversation with a colleague, it seems that suburban roads of St. Charles were a more dangerous place to be this weekend than the mean, big, nasty city of St. Louis. As I was dozing off Sunday evening watching the nightly news, expecting the normal litany of murders in North St. Louis that the media sensationalizes, I realized that the first three or four news articles were actually about drunken/reckless driving crashes with serious injuries or fatalities in St. Charles County.

This is not surprising to me, as you are more likely to be killed by a stranger in an automobile on the roads of America than you are to be gunned down by a complete stranger on the streets of a major city. One of the years I lived in DC, the police stated that only 10 of the 180 murders in the city that year were between two complete strangers.

Remember last year when two MoDot construction workers were killed by drunk drivers heading back to St. Charles County after a night of boozing it up in St. Louis City? I don't blame them for not wanting to hang out in St. Charles on the weekend, but why are we developing metropolitan areas that encourage people to drink and drive? How many drunk driving deaths do you think there were in 1910? People stumbled home drunk the block or two from the local tavern, and the most people had to worry about was people urinating on their front stoop.

This is to compare to my near misses with obviously drunk drivers in St. Louis County over every one of the last three weekends. The one two weeks ago literally forced to me swerve off of Highway 40 to avoid him from crashing into me from behind. Isn't it time that we have an honest debate about the 50,000 plus people who die on the roads of America every year?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Calvary Cemetery Tower

I know have no idea of the purpose of this tower in the center of Calvary Cemetery, though it has a certain Italian Romanesque feel to it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Louis Sullivan Terracotta

One terracotta element from the third and demolished Louis Sullivan building on Post Office Square still exists, resting peacefully in a garden in Ladue. Read about the Victoria Building at Built St. Louis. The gigantic Roberts Brothers Condominium Tower is now rising in its place.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Don't Get Me Started...

It would have been so easy to build the Ninth Street Garage north of the Old Post Office and save the Century Building. Heck, what is most annoying is that people would probably be moving into the Century right now--its attached neighbor, the Syndicate Trust is just about renovated. Don't tell me that the developer wouldn't have loved to renovate the Century simultaneously with the Syndicate Trust.

But instead, they're building a stupid plaza that no one will use. The Roberts Brothers still could have had their tower, and a parking garage.

McKinley Bridge Traffic

I heard the most interesting thing on the traffic report this morning: traffic was backing up westbound on the McKinley Bridge. While obviously backed up traffic isn't necessarily a good thing, it does mean that the newly restored link between St. Louis and the northeast Metro East is working. Traffic in cities equals life in cities.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Day Without Interstates

Much to my surprise, last Friday became an interesting experiment in regards to the efficacy--or even need--of interstates cutting through cities such as St. Louis. On Thursday, I came out to my car, got in, drove twenty feet and realized that my left front tire was completely flat. With the help of a colleague, we placed the spare tire on the car and I was on my way--at speeds no greater than 50 mph. So to put it bluntly, instead of driving on portions of I-170 and Highway 40 to get home, I had to take surface roads out to my Exile in Chesterfield. I chose Clayton, and before I knew it, it only took me an extra five minutes to get home strictly by driving St. Louis out to the corner of Kehrs Mill and Clarkson. Heck, I didn't even need the interstate, I thought.

On Friday, I headed out eastbound on Clayton and took it all the way to Skinker and then up to the Art Museum. It took me only five minutes more to get there, completely without interstate. On the way home on Friday, it only took me a few more minutes than my parents, who took I-44, I-270 and Highway 40 the entire way.

It makes me wonder if the interstates are really needed for the vast majority of St. Louis residents. Are the interstates really just helping turn Lincoln and Warren Counties into suburbs of St. Louis (a ridiculous but real threat)?

Drury Inn at the San Luis?

Reading about the controversial (and idiotic) plan for Drury Hotels to demolish a portion of occupied and rehabbed Forest Park Southeast, I began thinking, "Where could Drury put a hotel that would make everyone happy?" The answer came to me: the old San Luis Hotel on Lindell, just down from the Cathedral. Drury could continue its notable trend of rehabbing historic buildings into viable (and occupied) hotels, Forest Park would get some of its land back, and the historic houses of Forest Park Southeast targeted for demolition would be saved. Now they just have to get the Archdiocese to sell Drury the hotel.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Isadore Shank House

I had the opportunity to see Isadore Shank's house a weekend or two ago, nestled on a quiet street in the county. It is an exceptional house, and a testament to Modernist home design on a humane level.The house overlooks woods that were carefully laid out to preserve the idyllic setting of the house. It is currently occupied by Shank's family, who are ardent supporters of Modernism in St. Louis and its great enemy, the Pseudo-Historicist McMansion.

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