Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Abandoned Farm House Outside Washington, Illinois

I had seen this abandoned farmstead on Old Highway 24, between Washington and Eureka, Illinois. Realizing that a tornado or strong winds, or just simply the owner, could demolish the structure any day, I convinced my parents to stop by on the way back from dropping my grandmother off in Eureka after a wonderful German dinner in Peoria.The house sits up front, close to the road and still maintains a semblance of its original dignity. It looks like many farmhouses around here, but obviously worse for wear.Around back is either a barn, or a corn crib. It was hard to tell through all of the underbrush that has exploded due to the large amounts of rain and sunshine.Storm clouds were brewing, just am hour after driving to Eureka in the setting sunshine. I jumped back in the car, and told my father to hit the gas back to Morton.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Peppermill, Morton, Illinois

The Peppermill Restaurant and Motel (whose name escapes both my family and myself) once served as THE place to dine and stay in the Morton, Illinois area in the late 1960's and 70's. As can be seen here, the Peppermill is long defunct, after serving briefly as an antique mall.The wagon wheels, anachronistic farm wagon and other junk in the parking lot date from the antique mall period.Out back, a portion of the motel has been demolished, revealing the concrete slab that the rooms once sat on.The sense of desolation is palatable; I was anxious to photograph the motel before it was completely demolished for redevelopment. With the explosion of national chain hotels nearby, the Peppermill seems like it is doomed to the wrecking ball.I will never forget back in 1983 or 84 when my family, in the middle of a blizzard, were not able to make it down the road to my grandparents' farm. After almost getting stuck in a ditch, we made it back to Morton where we stayed the night. The next morning, my grandfather or one of his neighbors had plowed the road, allowing us to safely reach our destination.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Self Portrait, Church of Il Gesù

I had to lighten this photo with Windows Photo Editor because I took this picture into a slanted mirror on the floor after the lights had been turned out on the ceiling of the church. I think it turned out really well regardless, complete with my wild hair from hours pounding the pavement in Rome.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Just Say No to CVS

This is getting stupid. CVS is trying to muscle in on the drug store market in St. Louis, and the end result will be empty, suburban style buildings as corners are loaded with two drug stores. Years ago, people thought Walgreen's push to build new stores was an effort to block the market for CVS. Obviously, CVS is trying what it has done in other cities and that is the building of new drugstores across the street from healthy competitors. There are tons of other options instead of Walgreens in St. Louis; they're called independent drugstores, and they're located around the corner from you. Read about it here and here. Pictured here is the CVS construction site at Gravois and Loughborough.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Bel-Air Hotel on Lindell Blvd

To be honest, I had always considered the Best-Western on Lindell in the Central West End to be a total dump.Little did I understand that the building had merely suffered under decades of poor maintenance and decor that masked the underlying beauty of the hotel.Read more analysis of this building brought back to life at Ecology of Absence.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Carondelet Highlights

Many people know that Carondelet was one of several small, established towns that was later annexed by the city of St. Louis. It really does retain some of its small town feel, such as the above street shown above.Below is a fascinating church; the older, more severe structure has been partially enveloped by a later Romanesque Revival building.Carondelet was also the recipient of a Carnegie Library, as this beautiful structure anchors the main drag, Michigan Avenue, in the downtown area.And finally, the wonderful convent of The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.See an aerial view of the area here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Push to Save the San Luis

The Preservation Board will determine the fate of the San Luis next Monday June the 22nd at:

1015 Locust, Suite 1200
St. Louis, Missouri 63101
314)622-3400 Fax (314)622-3413

Even if you are able to attend please send the below sample letter to Preservation Board Secretary Adonna Buford, Alderwoman Lyda Krewson, and Monsingor Gardin.

Also distribute our newest flier throughout the Central West End and across the City!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Railroad Trestle, Kingshighway

It's a little hard to read, but I think it might say "Scenic Railroad," meaning that the trains on this trestle went out to Castlewood.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sole Survivor, Kingshighway at Chippewa

This wonderful building on the northwest corner of Kingshighway and Chippewa is the remaining reminder that four buildings once graced this important intersection in South City. Instead, the other corners have become a wasteland of parking that detracts and diminishes the intersection. Perhaps in its next incarnation we can hope for something better. Seriously, a Walgreen's, Applebee's and a Jack in the Box? Wasn't there a Famous Barr at this intersection back in the day?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Avalon Rotting Away

Seriously, the City of St. Louis can't even get one movie theater renovated in one of the most intact neighborhoods in St. Louis!?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bellerive Park

Ever wonder what that majestic bridge stretching over South Broadway in Carondelet is for? It is one section of what was to be a glorious "Kingshighway System" of dramatic boulevards that stretched around the entire city, before the interstate highway system put such plans to rest. Small portions of the entire parkway system were actually built, such as Christy Blvd and Bellerive Blvd in Carondelet.At the terminus of Bellerive Blvd is an amazing Renaissance Revival pavilion that overlooks the Mississippi River from high above on the bluffs.
Looking south, you can just see the Jefferson Barracks Bridge, miles to the south.Looking to the north, you can see the Cahokia Power Plant in the distance, as well as much of downtown.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Far North County Adventures

I recently had the opportunity to view some interesting sights in the far northern reaches of St. Louis County. Starting off above is a picture of the terminus of Bubblehead Road, a local legend among teenagers in North County. Below is Pelican Island, located in Sioux Passage County Park; when the water is low you can walk out to the island from the mainland.Located far off in the distance, the Porage des Sioux Power Plant looms over the bottomlands along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.I had never been this far up into North County in over twenty years, and I have no memory of the area except for the County Park. Much of the area is still rural, as this shot along Sinks Road illustrates. Sinks Road takes its name from the "sinks," a geologic formation in northern St. Louis County. A few years back someone built some houses on top of these famous sinkholes, and the houses, well, sank.Finally, it becomes apparent that McMansion construction has not spared this corner of St. Louis County, as this monstrosity nestled in the valley illustrates.If you have the time, take Old Halls Ferry Road north and tour one of the last rural areas of the St. Louis area.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

San Luis Demolition Request Moving Ahead

Much to the local preservationist movement's chagrin, months of talking to the Archdiocese have seemingly proven to have been unsuccessful in convincing the Church to change its mind on the demolition of the San Luis Apartments. On June 22, the Preservation Board will hear testimony on whether the building should face the fate of dozens of other prominent Mid-Century Modern buildings in the city.

Even if you think the San Luis is ugly, the idea that such a prominent street such as Lindell will begin to looking like nothing more than Clarkson Road or Manchester Road is frightening. The Central West End does not need more parking, it needs more residents who can walk to the various businesses arranged conveniently around the city. If you think cities cannot thrive without ample parking, you obviously don't get out much; the largest city in America, New York, is the cultural heart of the United States, if not the world, and there are less surface parking lots in Midtown Manhattan than in downtown St. Louis. This is a city, not a campus, and if the Archdiocese wants wide open vistas, it should move to St. Charles County.

Read more about it at the Post-Dispatch. The movement against the demolition is not a bunch of Catholic Church haters, just people who want this city to thrive and not stagnate under a sea of parking lots.

Monday, June 8, 2009

An Interesting House in Dutchtown

I'm intrigued by this house; it looks like it predates the rest of the houses nearby. Perhaps it originally was a farmhouse on the edge 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.