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Rumor: St. Aloysius Demolition to Start This Week

stal_01.jpgSadly, it sounds like demolition of the lovely St. Aloysius Gonzaga will begin later this week. I don’t have any details but I’ve heard rumors that someone was in talks to buy the property as-is from the current developer but a deal never materialized. I have been unable to confirm this information.

This unique setting is to be replaced by 25 ordinary homes as part of a development called Magnolia Square.

Just how spectacular will the view from Magnolia be next week? From all over the neighborhood one can see great views of the steeple. I have a feeling that many of the people that didn’t think this would be a big loss will wake up one day and realize they’ve lost a great view.

stal_02.jpgIronically, as demolition begins an interview I did with New York Public Radio Station WJFF will be airing. Listen online this Friday at 11am for a brief segment on St. Aloysius.

The old convent, also to be razed, is a great looking structure. How wasteful of a society are we that we have homeless among us and we’ll carelessly raze a perfectly fine building.

stal_03.jpgThis is another fine structure with a beautiful wood interior staircase. Yes, this outstanding home will also be razed.

The process up to this point has been highly suspect. Ald. Vollmer even went so far as to draft legislation to bypass the city’s Preservation Board which had denied a demolition permit. I think they all realized they couldn’t go back to the Preservation Board and win. Father Bommarito had testified in December the Archdiocese contract required demolition but my research into the title proved that was not the case. Basically, they had no case under the city’s Preservation Review ordinance so they had to .

Next year when the neighborhood is stuck with a few ugly & unsold houses and a bunch of vacant lots I hope the voters remember Ald. Vollmer’s role in the mess. The primary election is Tuesday March 6, 2007 — I hope someone with respect for good urban design challenges Vollmer.

The new house at the end of the street will likely put up some sort of steel bollards or some concrete planters to keep someone from running directly into their home. Tall street trees will likely die from the construction activity. This will be a slow drain on the neighborhood, not a boost.

We have so few settings like this one. Once it is gone people will talk about what has been lost. Hindsight won’t help.

– Steve


Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. Matt says:

    The only thing I can say is that at least the plans for the homes have improved slightly. Still way too much vinyll on on of the drawings though, and we’ll see how they actually turn out. This will be a sad day in St. louis when demo actuallt starts. I guess I will have to get over there tomorrow and take plenty of pics.

  2. Matthew Lehner says:

    So sad to see this city lose St. Aloysius. It represents in so many ways what makes this city unique. We are losing something small, but with a big meaning.

  3. Brad Mello says:

    Steve — throw yourself infront of the bulldozers — that building is worth it. Brad

  4. Matthew H. says:

    Saint Al’s is a major loss for many reasons.

    Its unique location and distinctive architecture ensured its status as a neighborhood anchor with much potential even after the Archdiocese closed the parish. Granted, its closure was inevitable and unfortunate, but there was no real reason that the church, rectory, and convent couldn’t be saved. Plus, new homes could’ve been built on the remainder of the parcel.

    Alderman Vollmer, Fr. Bommarito, etc. obfuscated dialogue and any attempt to save these structures by misrepresenting the terms of the contract, by claiming the church structure could not be saved, and the efforts to bypass the Preservation Board are particularly shameful IMHO.

    Also, residents were somehow led to believe conversion of the existing structures would lead to more density. And that’s a dirty word in south Saint Louis for many residents, when in reality the density wouldn’t have been significantly greater (if at all) than what’s being proposed for Magnolia Square.

    There are many places in the city where new homes can be built without disrupting the urban fabric that makes Saint Louis desirable and special. However, there’s only one Saint Al’s, and in a city with a strong sense of place, we are too willing to throw away our unique built environment for short-term gain. And now that our city is finally growing after decades of decline, we need to demand much more from our leaders and developers.

  5. Jason Toon says:

    Yeah, all the slimeballs like Vollmer need to be swept out if any worthwhile city resurgence is to continue. This is the machine that presided over the collapse of St. Louis – why do people keep voting for it?

  6. Kelli says:

    My husband grew up in St. Al’s parish and went to grade school there. He gets wistful every time we see the demolition progress. The loss of culture and community with the closing of this parish is a sad testament to similar losses of culture and community that commercial interests facilitate.

  7. jake says:

    What it’s a sad testament to is the people who used to attend St. Al’s and the fact they stopped going there and stopped supporting the Church, so much so that it had to be shutdown by the Archdioceses.

    Now these same people are whining about what is happening – don’t act so surprised!!

  8. Angela says:

    when someone would have stopped going to school there, they would only be around the age of 13, so what do you suppose a 13 year old is supposed to do to continue to support the school and church once they were finished going to school there??? hmmm i suppose they decided where they lived and how their parents’ money was spent…i dont think so


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