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St. Mary’s Razed Original St. Mary’s Hospital Building

Over my years in St. Louis I’ve visited St. Mary’s Hospital on Clayton Road a few times, always to visit others. However, six years ago today I arrived at St. Mary’s Hospital from Saint Louis University Hospital to begin physical rehab following my stroke. I don’t remember arriving, but I do remember leaving a month later.

I took this photo of the original hospital building the day I left, March 21, 2008
I took this photo of the original hospital building the day I left, March 21, 2008
When I returned for a visit 4 years ago today I took this pic of the original hospital building
When I returned for a visit 4 years ago today I took this pic of the original hospital building
By October 2010 the building had been razed.
By October 2010 the building had been razed.

The original building was likely poorly suited for modern medicine but it had much more going for it: quality materials, great proportions, etc. Not every great old building can or should be saved. The problem is I think too many decision makers assume the old must go away without exploring options for reuse. Assumptions can cloud what should be a non-biased analysis.

What replaces the old is usually a disappointment.

— Steve Patterson

  • OlMOBJ

    I can identify with “the old” since I was born in that wing 67 years ago. Seven day stay for mom and newborn cost $94.

  • JZ71

    “What replaces the old is usually a disappointment.” Define “old”. Is a Victorian or Italianate brick home a “disappointment” compared to the canvas tent or sod shanty or rudimentary log cabin that it replaced in the 1890’s or 1920’s? Or is it anything that is built in your lifetime, or this century, that replaces something that predates your birth, that makes it a “disappointment”?

    Times change, everything ages. Most people don’t just tear down buildings because they’ve grown tired of or bored with them, they tear them down (and hopefully replace them) because they’re functionally obsolete and/or have significant maintenance or structural issues. Demolition costs money and disrupts daily operations, it’s not like throwing out a pair of worn-out shoes.

    You state that “The original building was likely poorly suited for modern medicine”, I agree. You also imply that St. Mary’s “decision makers [decided that] the old must go away without exploring options for reuse”, with which I strongly disagree. They have a limited campus to build on, and if it can’t be reused for hospital uses, it needs/needed to go IF they were going to stay at this location (and not move to an easier, suburban campus). The same goes with the Zoo and their current demolition of the old hospital on the south side of Forest Park – they looked at saving what they could (the parking garage) – or the current demolition at BJC/Children’s along Kingshighway. From an urban design standpoint, keeping institutions like these in urban areas should trump bemoaning the loss of any individual structure.

    • moe

      It’s the old, original Jewish Hospital that is being razed. At first we thought they were going to retain the façade but then realized that they were just salvaging all the scrap first before razing. NOW that BJC complex is one cluster-frack of a campus.
      The St. Mary’s wing was built as a fortess…as many old structures are and made modernization very $$$$. Many of the floors were closed for years or used for storage. The first floor was Admin offices and Sr. Betty kept them there as long as she could.
      non-biased analysis…in other words, they didn’t ask Steve so he made a biased analysis.

      • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

        This post is about St. Mary’s Hospital on Clayton Road in Richmond Heights, not the BJC complex. I guess you couldn’t read my post slow enough before attacking me. Next time please make sure you understand what I’m posting about before you being critical of my opinion.

        • moe

          I was correcting JZ’s comment regarding the BJC/Children’s complex….which is not Children’s, it is Jewish that is being razed. Then I rang in supporting JZ’z comment regarding St. Mary’s. Perhaps you should read the comments first. In Order.

          • http://urbanreviewstl.com/ Steve Patterson

            My apologies, I read the comments in the backend software and the I didn’t press the “context” button.

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Outdated relic or a beloved facility that should've been kept? ... See MoreSee Less

February 27, 1999 - 16 years-ago today, the Arena on Oakland Avenue was imploded. Thousands of people gathered hours before 5:45 p.m., to watch the former home of the St. Louis Blues reduced to rubble. The stock market crash of 1929 ruined the dreams of Col. Ben Brinkman, founding father of The Arena. Brinkman built The Arena at 5700 Oakland Avenue, for $1.5 million as a livestock exhibition hall next door to his other big-name property, the Highlands amusement park. The Arena opened in October 1929, just before the stock-market crash that helped bring on the Great Depression. There were few bookings at the facility, & within two years, The Arena had to sell off chairs to satisfy a debt of $1,681. It's first event was The St. Louis National Horse Show. Starting after the Civil War, it was held in Fairground's Park until moving to this new venue, where it would remain an annual event until 1953. Most of us only knew him as an elderly man, but in his youth, Gussie Busch was a frequent competitor, jumping his champion Olympic mare, Miss Budweiser, over the traces. The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra played each evening before the competition events, featuring a skinny, unknown singer named Frank Sinatra. The national cattle livestock show was next for the brand-new Arena in 1929, & this too, would be an annual event. Over the course of 70 years, the Arena would host a wide range of events, & many recall seeing the circus, Lone Ranger & Tonto, Cisco Kid, or the Three Stooges there. It would be impossible for me to list all that appeared there, but for most of my generation, it was where you saw Blues hockey, Steamers soccer, & rock concerts. It's believed over 500 concerts were held there, with over half of them sponsored by local radio station, KSHE. In an effort to keep the Blues from moving to Saskatoon, Mayor Vince Schoemehl had the City buy the Arena in 1986 & after the team moved to their new home downtown in 1994, the City found themselves paying a $50,000 a month mortgage on an empty building. Mayor Clarence Harmon and the Board of Aldermen decided to demolish it, & paid Spirtas Wrecking Co. $694,000 to do the deed. It took less than 15 seconds for the 133 lbs. of dynamite to turn the once-great exhibition hall into a pile of scrap. But like the recently demolished Admiral, they can tear it down, but they can't destroy our memories.

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Very true!

h/t NextSTL
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