Home » History/Preservation »St. Louis County » Currently Reading:

Rock Hill to Trade Namesake for Gas Station & Convenience Store

July 12, 2011 History/Preservation, St. Louis County 32 Comments

Pretend for a moment the modest stone church at the the NE corner of Manchester & McKnight was built in 1945. It would be old enough to be historic just based on age. In reality, though, the church was built by slaves in 1845. The City of Rock Hill, where the church is located, took it’s name from the church. Serious history!

Rock Hill has foolishly agreed to allow a developer to raze the recently vacated church for a gas station and convenience store. Seriously.

The 1845 limestone church, located at McKnight and Manchester roads, could very well be razed to make way for a gas station and convenience store. Rock Hill Presbyterian Church is one of the earliest churches to be established in the greater St. Louis area. Until August 2010, it was the oldest Presbyterian Church west of the Mississippi to hold worship services on a continuous basis in the same structure, according to a history from the Rock Hill Historic Preservation Commission.

U-Gas, based in Fenton, has reached a purchase agreement with the property owner, Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy Inc.

Adjoining the church on the same property is the city-owned Fairfax House. The house was built between 1839 and 1842.

Plans call for the house to be moved to the northern end of the two-acre tract, with the move paid for by U-Gas. Bill Biermann, the attorney representing U-Gas, spoke at the July 5 board of aldermen meeting. (Source)

Incredibly shortsighted! It sounds like the purchase agreement is contingent on being able to build the gas station, so it may be possible to save the last bit of history in the area.

ABOVE: The modest church was rebuilt following a fire in the early 20th century

However, the developer must wait  6 months to see if someone can be found to relocated the stone structure. In the meantime, those seeking gas in the area will have to hope they have enough fuel to drive 825 feet further west, or another 1,200 feet beyond that.

ABOVE: Former gas station across McKnight to the west

The Fairfax house has been moved three times already, the most recent in 1997 from property across Manchester Rd.

The lovely timber frame home known as Fairfax is built to fit the Golden Mean in architecture. The appealing structure of four rooms joined with a central hallway is held together with tenon joinery, its frame resting upon massive oak sills hand hewn on site. Each window and door is delicately held together with a series of carefully placed hand carved wooden pegs. Delicately carved muntins lay across the panes of glass in the double hung window sashes. A brick lined food cupboard reaches floor to ceiling in the dining room and two massive Rumford Chimneys reach from cellar floor through rooftop. The hand turned newel post is still pinned underneath the first floor visible from the basement after being in constant use for some 160 years! (source)

The house would be moved a fourth time.

ABOVE: in the background is the 1950s addition designed by P. John Hoener & Associates and the Fairfax House

To see the architect’s sketch of the addition click here.

ABOVE: Fairfax House

I propose that, if the church is razed, the city change it’s name to one of the following:

  • U Gas Hill
  • Gas Hill
  • Sprawl Hill
  • Un-Rock Hill

Driving through Rock Hill is pretty depressing, these two structures are the only thing pleasant along this stretch of Manchester Rd. Take them away and there will be no relief from the sprawl.

– Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "32 comments" on this Article:

  1. Salvdr says:

    Historic structure versus more gas stations.  Sad.   Steve, what is your source for your statement that the church was built by slaves?

     
  2. Salvdr says:

    Historic structure versus more gas stations.  Sad.   Steve, what is your source for your statement that the church was built by slaves?

     
  3. stannate says:

    Rock Hill is a good candidate for disincorporation. Far too many of their recent development schemes center around destroying the town in order to “save” it–Market at McKnight, the failed Target bid, the empty lot on Rock Hill Road that has been proposed as their new City Hall or Arco HQ or as a new charter(?) school. All of these developments involve buying out residential homes to raze them, which certainly wouldn’t encourage prospective homebuyers from ever considering moving to Rock Hill. Besides, what does Rock Hill get for its vaunted independence? Residents get to pay for the privilege of attending Webster Grove schools, and cops get to bust people for going 2 MPH over the speed limit on Manchester. I can’t think of much more, and this is coming from a former Rock Hill resident. The experiment is over–the town should disincorporate and let its better-managed neighbors pick up the pieces.

     
  4. Don Kasak says:

    Rock Hill is a good candidate for disincorporation. Far too many of their recent development schemes center around destroying the town in order to “save” it–Market at McKnight, the failed Target bid, the empty lot on Rock Hill Road that has been proposed as their new City Hall or Arco HQ or as a new charter(?) school. All of these developments involve buying out residential homes to raze them, which certainly wouldn’t encourage prospective homebuyers from ever considering moving to Rock Hill. Besides, what does Rock Hill get for its vaunted independence? Residents get to pay for the privilege of attending Webster Grove schools, and cops get to bust people for going 2 MPH over the speed limit on Manchester. I can’t think of much more, and this is coming from a former Rock Hill resident. The experiment is over–the town should disincorporate and let its better-managed neighbors pick up the pieces.

     
  5. Either the history of the Fairfax House (interesting!) or an article.

     
  6. samizdat says:

    Having grown up in Glendale–another worthless bedroom suburb adjacent to RH–I couldn’t agree more.

     
  7. Fenian says:

    A lot of the problem is the poor fiscal shape that Rock Hill has been in for years. I believe they have improved somewhat from the worst times, but they are still in a race to increase tax revenues irrespective of the toll on the citizens/community. They have shown that they are willing to raze neighborhoods and destroy any history remaining in order to fill their coffers. Disincorporating would be a good option IMO.

     
  8. Fenian says:

    A lot of the problem is the poor fiscal shape that Rock Hill has been in for years. I believe they have improved somewhat from the worst times, but they are still in a race to increase tax revenues irrespective of the toll on the citizens/community. They have shown that they are willing to raze neighborhoods and destroy any history remaining in order to fill their coffers. Disincorporating would be a good option IMO.

     
  9. I bet they put a Del Taco in it’s place.  

     
  10. I bet they put a Del Taco in it’s place.  

     
  11. Anonymous says:

    Ever read about the old Rock House that was supposed to be relocated from the downtown renewal zone that later became the arch ground?  Dismantled and never heard from again.  Point is nobody is moving this stone structure anywhere. Unlike the wood frame house, relocating the church would be a numbered piece by piece effort, that kind of endeavor is usually reserved for buildings of much greater significance.  Probably the best they can hope for is the developer to move a few of the stones to an empty little plaza at the corner, with a bench. This has a feeling of inevitability.  Rock Hill is moving down the chain of use in general and this is just a small example of the bigger picture.

     
  12. arkiben says:

    Ever read about the old Rock House that was supposed to be relocated from the downtown renewal zone that later became the arch ground?  Dismantled and never heard from again.  Point is nobody is moving this stone structure anywhere. Unlike the wood frame house, relocating the church would be a numbered piece by piece effort, that kind of endeavor is usually reserved for buildings of much greater significance.  Probably the best they can hope for is the developer to move a few of the stones to an empty little plaza at the corner, with a bench. This has a feeling of inevitability.  Rock Hill is moving down the chain of use in general and this is just a small example of the bigger picture.

     
    • Rick says:

      They actually moved a stone building in Carondelet a few years ago to a city park.  I’m pretty sure they did it w/o moving it stone by stone, but it still was expensive.

       
    • bev says:

      My neighbor is one of the owners of Expert House Movers and if I recall, he once said that brick and stone buildings were in some ways easier to move than frame buildings. Here’s a video of his company moving a historic building: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVtk9Sz0-Ds&feature=player_embedded

      But I’m willing to bet no one even bothers to contact anyone about moving the church. I’m a cynic.

       
  13. Anonymous says:

    The city needed to repeal a city ordinance limiting the number of gas stations in Rock Hill to two to make this happen (plus they had ignored it when they allowed 7-11 to add gas pumps) . . . and the legendary ticket-writing cop is coming out of retirement to work 20 hours a week keeping their streets safe!
     
    As for the church, it obviously has a lot more history that the Del Taco.  The question, given land values, is there a way to save the original stone structure while losing the 1950’s addition?  What U Gas wants/needs is access to both roads and signage.  The original structure occupies only a smal portion of the site, and could conceivably be saved IF the city forced the issue.  Finding a viable use/user is a secondary challenge, but shouldn’t be impossible.  Again, it all boils down to leadership . . . .

     
  14. JZ71 says:

    The city needed to repeal a city ordinance limiting the number of gas stations in Rock Hill to two to make this happen (plus they had ignored it when they allowed 7-11 to add gas pumps) . . . and the legendary ticket-writing cop is coming out of retirement to work 20 hours a week keeping their streets safe!
     
    As for the church, it obviously has a lot more history that the Del Taco.  The question, given land values, is there a way to save the original stone structure while losing the 1950’s addition?  What U Gas wants/needs is access to both roads and signage.  The original structure occupies only a smal portion of the site, and could conceivably be saved IF the city forced the issue.  Finding a viable use/user is a secondary challenge, but shouldn’t be impossible.  Again, it all boils down to leadership . . . .

     
    • Chris says:

      Wow, they really do need the money if he’s coming out of retirement.  Now I’m really going to avoid Rock Hill, even more than before.

       
  15. Rick says:

    They actually moved a stone building in Carondelet a few years ago to a city park.  I’m pretty sure they did it w/o moving it stone by stone, but it still was expensive.

     
  16. Chris says:

    Wow, they really do need the money if he’s coming out of retirement.  Now I’m really going to avoid Rock Hill, even more than before.

     
  17. Chris says:

    And much smaller.

     
  18. Maurice says:

    Serious history indeed!  It would be great to find a way to save the buildings but…
    1) Rock Hill would be an ideal candidate for dis-incorporation, but no one wants a broke town and the time to consolidate is when towns are in good shape…a whole different story.
    2) The church was built by slaves.
    3) Where would it be moved to or what use could be made of it today for the future?
    4) I thought I read where the U-gas owner has some connection to the church…which leads to thought 5
    5) Why the heck did it take so long?  Why didn’t the city and concerned parties get rolling last year or year before?  Why is it always crunch time?

     
  19. Maurice says:

    Serious history indeed!  It would be great to find a way to save the buildings but…
    1) Rock Hill would be an ideal candidate for dis-incorporation, but no one wants a broke town and the time to consolidate is when towns are in good shape…a whole different story.
    2) The church was built by slaves.
    3) Where would it be moved to or what use could be made of it today for the future?
    4) I thought I read where the U-gas owner has some connection to the church…which leads to thought 5
    5) Why the heck did it take so long?  Why didn’t the city and concerned parties get rolling last year or year before?  Why is it always crunch time?

     
    • samizdat says:

      The Capitol of the United States–both the structure and the city–was built by and large by slave labor. Do you suggest we tear it down as a result of that?

       
  20. bev says:

    My neighbor is one of the owners of Expert House Movers and if I recall, he once said that brick and stone buildings were in some ways easier to move than frame buildings. Here’s a video of his company moving a historic building: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVtk9Sz0-Ds&feature=player_embedded

    But I’m willing to bet no one even bothers to contact anyone about moving the church. I’m a cynic.

     
  21. Tpekren says:

    Arco will build their new HQ; However, it was the shame on the site they selected when you could raise half the commercial structures across Manchester from McKnight for the same purpose.  Of course, that meant they would have to pay more. 

    What is also missing in Rock Hill is any semblence of leadership or sense of community from McCarthy Builders!!! They are a billion dollar contractor in revenue with their HQ along with their original yard tucked away in Rock Hill.  Market at McKnight would have been a much better project if they could have pulled McCarthy into the mix and reduce retail space as well as provide a development plan to add more housing on their existing property which is only a block away from Tillis Park if not mistaken and only a couple blocks away from the Manchester/Rockhill Rd interchange (or Market at Mcknight).

    As far as comments, have to agree fullheatedly with every post.  Rockhill is classic example of why politics in small community doesn’t mean things are always better, especially in an urban setting.  Politics is small community only means that everybody knows the person(s) who dig the hole.

     
  22. Tpekren says:

    Arco will build their new HQ; However, it was the shame on the site they selected when you could raise half the commercial structures across Manchester from McKnight for the same purpose.  Of course, that meant they would have to pay more. 

    What is also missing in Rock Hill is any semblence of leadership or sense of community from McCarthy Builders!!! They are a billion dollar contractor in revenue with their HQ along with their original yard tucked away in Rock Hill.  Market at McKnight would have been a much better project if they could have pulled McCarthy into the mix and reduce retail space as well as provide a development plan to add more housing on their existing property which is only a block away from Tillis Park if not mistaken and only a couple blocks away from the Manchester/Rockhill Rd interchange (or Market at Mcknight).

    As far as comments, have to agree fullheatedly with every post.  Rockhill is classic example of why politics in small community doesn’t mean things are always better, especially in an urban setting.  Politics is small community only means that everybody knows the person(s) who dig the hole.

     
  23. samizdat says:

    The Capitol of the United States–both the structure and the city–was built by and large by slave labor. Do you suggest we tear it down as a result of that?

     

Comment on this Article:

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

The new Commerce Connect Central West End location at 56 North Euclid opened this week! It’s the first of its kind bank with a casual, relaxing atmosphere and state of the art technology. Use the new 24 hour Smart ATM for everyday banking or even to video chat with a banker! For more details, visit https://bit.ly/337gRGZ ... See MoreSee Less

13 hours ago  ·  

Animator Richard Williams has died, he was 86.Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Directed by Robert Zemeckis Starring Bob Hoskins, Mel Blanc, Christopher Lloyd, Charles Fleischer and Kathleen Turner Released: 1988... ... See MoreSee Less

14 hours ago  ·  

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe