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Glad At Least A Few Blocks Of Grand Were Saved From Demolition

I was in the Grand Center part of Midtown Thursday night. Grand Center is centered on a too short 3-4 block stretch of North Grand that was not razed for urban renewal to the north of Delmar or grass south of Olive. Many buildings stood vacant for years, some remain vacant today. One recently occupied is the former headquarters of Carter Carburator at 711 North Grand.

ABOVE: Entrance to the Grand Center Arts Academy

The Grand Center Arts Academy is “a charter school for visual and performing arts.”  The school moved into the building last year. I’m grateful buildings like this weren’t razed by short sided people so it could contribute to the streetscape along Grand and provide comfort to me as I waited on Delmar for the bus home. Hopefully I’ll get  a tour of the inside soon.

 – Steve Patterson


Raising Urban Kids

One of the great things about downtown’s Citygarden is I almost always seen someone I know when I pass through.

ABOVE: A friend plays ball with his young son as another friend watches.

Last Sunday was no exception, I stopped to talk to two friends and the young son of one friend. It seems like just last week when his son was in a tiny infant, now he’s playing ball. How’d that happen so quick? Downtown has a growing number of young kids being raised in the region’s most urban area. As you might expect schools and education is a concern for these parents. Rather than immediately flee the suburbs or exurbs a growing number of urban parents expect they can continue the walkable urban lifestyle they love while ensuring their kids get a good education as well as being exposed to a broad range of people.

These kids won’t be sheltered, they’ll know how to walk to the store alone when their older, they won’t be shocked when their out with friends in college and they spot a homeless person. The idea of a cleanup project won’t be a foreign concept either.

– Steve Patterson


New Mission & Neighborhood for Ittner’s Henry School

Last year’s redistricting meant I was now in the 5th ward, rather than the 6th. As such my polling place for voting changed from the senior apartment building on Olive west of Jefferson to Patrick Henry Elementary on North 10th St.

ABOVE: Henry Elementary at 1220 N. 10th, click image to view in Google Maps

It’s official name is now Patrick Henry Downtown Academy:

Nestled in the heart of downtown St. Louis, Patrick Henry Downtown Academy, located at 1220 N. 10th Street, offers a tuition-free world-class urban educational experience for children grades Pre-K-6th. We are beginning the first phase in the implementation of a GREEN School Model. We will emphasize ecological sustainability, environmental health, nutrition, personal responsibility, leadership and a comprehensive, high-quality academic program.

Patrick Henry Downtown Academy will serve as a unique springboard for students who will be at the forefront of the industries and disciplines of the 21st Century. There will be an emphasis on the environmental sciences, energy alternatives and conservation, recycling, organic gardening and the food sciences, and the emerging “green” economy, students will focus on developing the math, science, writing and “hands-on” skills that will make them successful leaders to make a difference in improving the environment for humanity. Our goal is to be the first urban GREEN Model Pilot School in the country! (Saint Louis Public Schools).

The Henry school is one of many designed by architect William B. Ittner (Landmarks Association, Wikipedia). Voters entered through a basement entry to get to the small gym so the areas I saw weren’t grand spaces designed by Ittner. They were nice and clean and students going from class to class were well behaved. School staff were clearly in charge of the students. Those working the polls were helpful.

Last November I voted absentee but I’m glad I went in person on Tuesday, even though I had to walk down numerous steps. The area to the east was the Cochran Gardens high-rise public housing projects. Cochran has been replaced by Cambridge Heights, a mixed income neighborhood. Now that construction is nearly complete I’ll be visiting and posting about the changes, including pictures of the high-rise buildings before they were razed.

– Steve Patterson


BWorks Moves Worthy Programs to New Soulard Location

Since 1988, BWorks has worked with youth in St. Louis.

ABOVE: BWorks' new home in a historic Soulard building

The organization recently moved from a cramped storefront in the Shaw neighborhood to a much larger space in Soulard:

St. Louis BWorks was built on the idea that everyone deserves the chance to be more and to gain the skills they need to pursue their dreams. We believe that “at-risk” children — or any young people for that matter — can thrive when they have the opportunity to challenge their abilities in a safe, supportive environment. (full mission & history)

Originally the only program was St. Louis Bicycle Works where kids could learn to repair and maintain a bike. Later St. Louis Byte Works was added where kids learned computer skills and they could earn a reconditioned computer.

St. Louis Book Works was founded in 2011 to promote verbal, visual and cultural literacy through creative expression. Young people in the program work with volunteer editors to write and and illustrate their own books.

As the programs offered grew, so did their space requirements. BWorks outgrew their old space long ago.

ABOVE: Reconditioned bicycles await new owners after completing the St. Louis Bicycle Works program
ABOVE: St. Louis Book Works classroom space
ABOVE: Computer lab at St. Louis Byte Works
ABOVE: Shop area where donated computers are refurbished
ABOVE: Shop area where bikes are reconditioned

Each year St. Louis Bicycle Works sponsors Cranksgiving in St. Louis:

“Want to be a part of the biggest food collection ride in the country? Join us at Schlafly Bottleworks on 11/6 for a bike ride at 10 A.M. (5, 10 or 25 mile courses) and get some food for Food Outreach.

 2010 had over 650 riders collecting over 6000 food items for Food Outreach making it the largest Cranksgiving in the country. Lets keep this record in St.louis! Join us this year at a even better event.”

BWorks is looking for volunteers and contributions. Click here to learn how to get involved. The reuse of the building is extraordinary.

– Steve Patterson


Readers: Imagine’s St. Louis Charter Schools Need to Close

October 5, 2011 Education 16 Comments
ABOVE: The Imagine school at Chouteau & Spring

Nearly two-thirds of the readers that voted in the poll last week think charter schools operated by Imagine Schools, Inc need to close:

Q: Should Imagine’s Charter Schools in St. Louis Close?

  1. Yes 55 [62.5%]
  2. No 15 [17.05%]
  3. Maybe 6 [6.82%]
  4. Unsure/No Opinion 7 [7.95%]
  5. Other: 5 [5.68%]

The five other answers were:

  1. If they are not getting results, shutter them. Haven’t followed the issu too cl
  2. How about expelling the students who don’t care to be taught/can’t act properly?
  3. some should
  4. don’t know enough to make an educated choice
  5. The entire charter school system in Saint Louis needs to be reevalualed.


– Steve Patterson