Monday, April 23, 2012

Rock Hill Presbyterian Being Destroyed

Time has run out for the historic Rock Hill Presbyterian, and the wrecking crews have arrived and have already largely demolished the 1950's Sunday School wing to the east of the church.
Honestly, having attended church in this building in the 1980's, that is not really any big loss; it was a classic example of "sick building syndrome" and detracted from the simplicity of the original rock church.
As of Saturday, the original stone church, renovated after a fire in the 1930's was still largely untouched, the stain glass windows in place; whether there is any interior demolition occurring I do not know.
So apparently a winery owner has bought the church, and it will be disassembled and moved to Warren County. Sounds good, but the original church will be gone; only its stones, moved to a new site and placed in different positions, will remain. The new church will be nothing more than a pastiche of the original structure. My favorite line from the Post-Dispatch article is this:

"But no one had anticipated that [the church] would be so expensive to move."

It's made out of stone! How easy did you think it was going to be?! The whole thing stinks, and I want to know what was really behind this whole deal to build this gas station. What is the IQ of the Rock Hill city council?
The aspect of the whole U-Gas proposal that mystifies me the most is the seemingly inhospitable lay of the land where this gas station will now go. As you can now see more easily, the site is actually a giant hollow, buffeted on the west by a giant retaining wall that holds up McKnight Road. Surely huge amounts of fill will have to be brought in to make the site usable as a gas station.
By the way, it bears repeating; there is a gas station a grand total of maybe 500 feet from the new gas station. How would you like to be the owner of that place?
And even more infuriatingly, there is a dumpy, run-down strip mall across the street. Geez, do you think that maybe the gas station--or even the church--could have possibly been moved there?
So in a couple of weeks, the "city" of Rock Hill (I use that term loosely) will still have one run-down strip mall and one less incredibly historic church. Does it make sense to you?

10 comments:

  1. i agree. there's something crooked going on at Rock Hill "City" Hall. that, or they're all monumental idiots that actually believe a city is the sum of its gas stations.

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  2. I'm in the same boat as you... I know that that spot is a busy intersection but I can't help but feel the rows and rows of old industrial buildings running the entirety of the nearby stretch of Manchester that is plagued by vacancy could have made a better spot than a corner with a very old, beautiful, and historic structure such as this church. I can't help but feel as a whole not just Maplewood but alot of townships, cities, wards any incorporated town in this area truly don't respect and value the historic structures of this city. It won't be long until we are a town of characterless strip malls and gas stations with the occassional old but not quite historical structure scattered throughout like landmarks or memorials of what once was. Just a quick question though, what ended up being the fate of the house next to the church? I thought they bought up that plot to.

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    1. Agreed, the whole point is I believe that a historic urban center would indirectly bring in more tax revenue than a gas station would directly.

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    2. The house is safe; it will be moved to the north end of the site.

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  3. Tom Maher - KirkwoodApril 23, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    You raised an interesting point about the "hollow" of the land. I've traveled that road for more than (yes) six decades and it's always been that way. For entrance to Northbound McKnight some dramatic fill will be needed.
    Another interesting point is the dilapidated strip center across the street. A couple of guesses on the choice of the church site is that it can capture Westbound Manchester traffic more easily (PM rush hour) and that the church cost less than the price of the strip site. Note that the latter may have been/still is part of Rock Hill's grandiose redevelopment scheme (dunno for sure, though) and was just not available.
    Something also curious is that there is a median on Manchester which would prevent Eastbound Manchester traffic from turning into the "church" part of the site. However, after a hundred or so feet, the median stops. Can you just IMAGINE the backups on Manchester if left turns are then permitted into the site?

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    1. Good points, though it won't be able to capture southbound afternoon McKnight traffic very well. I'm sure they didn't think that far ahead.

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  5. The gas station couldn't take down the strip mall, because the empty mall, with empty stores, lowers the value of that property, which in turn lowers the taxes. That church and school, while it may have only been a nice facade, looked nice and clean from the outside. Taking that down, will further make the area look like a dump, lower values and lower taxes. The administration who runs this area, the corrupt politicians, love it. I don't know the reasoning, but there has to be a reason that Slay's group allows so much destruction of old and historic and perfectly saving places, for things that either never get finished or never work.

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  6. I drove past the site today and the building is gone. Sad, really, that what little bit of history that dumpy town had is now gone. Think about it, this building dates back to 1845...James Polk was president and he was only our 11th president. America wasn't even 70 years old. Rock Hill traded all this history for another lousy gas station. How long until UGas drives at least one of the other gas stations out of business, leaving yet another empty lot?

    How coincidental that right after this I passed one of Rock Hill's finest in the process of writing yet another speeding ticket. I guess the speed traps weren't generating enough revenue. That town has seen my last dollar; there's nothing they have that I can't get somewhere else.

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    1. Brian, you told me you drive by every day, right? I happened to stop by tonight and it was gone. How did it go so quickly?!

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