Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rock Hill Presbyterian To Be Demolished

I normally don't get too controversial on this website, instead seeking to building consensus and appreciation for the saving of the historic built environment of St. Louis and its surrounding communities. For the planned demolition of Rock Hill Presbyterian, I cannot be diplomatic. Simply put, Rock Hill's cynical ploy to offer to save the structure if private citizens can magically find hundreds of thousands of dollars in a short period is reprehensible. Reading their offer, I realized I had heard the same such hollow olive branch from the owners of an historic mansion recently demolished in Kirkwood: "We're not bad guys, we love old buildings, but it's your fault, you crazy preservationists, because you couldn't come up with the money to move the building before our arbitrarily short deadline ran out."

Let's review some of the facts:

1) Rock Hill is allowing U-Gas to demolish a church built by slaves before the Civil War for a gas station.
2) Rock Hill already has three gas stations, which is already a violation of its own ordinance against having so many gas stations.
3) Rock Hill, infamous as a speed trap, has numerous abandoned store fronts lining Manchester Road.
4) Rock Hill currently has its city hall in a strip mall/run-down building.

I remarked to myself recently that Americans spend billions of dollars each year as tourists in iconic, beautiful cities such as Rome, London or Paris in order to experience what humanity has accomplished in the art of the urban environment. How sad it is that many Americans don't realize or care that we are free to make cities as beautiful as the aforementioned cities, but we choose a gas station over an historic structure. Let me ask you, would Rome allow the demolition of an historic church for a gas station?

Perhaps the church can still be saved, but it will require your help to do it. Start by visiting this site as well as their Facebook page and see what you can do.


  1. beautifully put. this demolition is so utterly ridiculous that one has to wonder if someone at rock hill city hall is getting a little somethin' somethin' from u-gas...

    also, you should email this post to rock hill city hall.

  2. unbelievable! I just found out earlier today that the Avalon is also being demolished! The crews have already started! This is seriously outrageous. And then the prevailing attitude is, "well, if you whiny preservationists love this building so much, why don't you cough up hundreds of thousands of dollars to save it, or pay Greg Tsevis the $900,000 he had originally wanted?" yeah, easier said than done. :(

  3. Tom Maher - KirkwoodJanuary 18, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    Rock Hill has been a dysfunctional (and financially-strapped) city for many years; this is nothing new.
    It has seemed an anomaly among cities West of the City for many decades.
    Note that this is a comment and not a rationalization. It is an observation from many years of living somewhat West of it and traveling its roads.

  4. I agree, Tom; should a city that can't pay for its own existence be allowed to continue? The area would be best served if were annexed by Webster Groves (which already provides schools) or complete disincorporation.

    1. Tom Maher - KirkwoodJanuary 19, 2012 at 10:53 PM

      I certainly agree with that! Of course, one only need look to North County to see totally ludicrous raisons d’être of "cities." Many (most?) of them make Rock Hill look rational.

  5. Thank you so much for posting our website and Facebook info. We are working hard to save the church and we could use support.


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