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Historic Art Deco Storefronts Removed From Board of Education Building

The former St. Louis Board of Education Building was built in 1893, but in the late 1930s the storefront spaces on the ground floor were replaced with new Art Deco fronts. The National Register Nomination lists the period of significance for the building as 1893-1953, so these storefronts are considered historic even though they’re not original.  The building is now loft apartments.

The quotes in the post are from the nomination linked above:

Overall, most of the building retains a high degree of historic integrity. The primary elevations have seen few changes and most of the exterior storefront modifications took place during the period of significance. The only other major exterior change is the loss of the pressed metal cornice, removed in 1942 during the historic period.

In March I was worried when I saw the plywood up at the entrance to the main Art Deco storefront. But perhaps it was just to protect the vitrolite and curved glass…

In March I was worried when I saw the plywood up at the entrance to the main Art Deco storefront. But perhaps it was just to protect  the vitrolite and curved glass...
The curved glass, vitrolite tile, and aluminum details are visible above.
Earlier this month workers began removing the 75+ year old storefronts
Earlier this month workers began removing the 75+ year old storefronts
The main storefront during demolition
The main storefront during demolition
Workers demolishing the storefronts facing 9th Street
Workers demolishing the storefronts facing 9th Street
The 9th Street storefronts were tiny and not wheelchair accessible
The 9th Street storefronts were tiny and not wheelchair accessible

Here’s more detail on the exterior:

The remaining openings on the first floor (901-909 Locust and 401-409 North Ninth Street) are either display windows or entrances into the businesses that once occupied the first floor of this building. The original configuration of first floor openings generally alternated between display windows and recessed storefront entrances with display windows on one or both sides. Minor changes to these storefronts were noted in school board records as early as 1910. Major renovations in the 1930s transformed the original wood-framed first floor storefront entrances and display windows into distinctive examples of the Art Deco style with new Vitrolite storefronts and aluminum transom windows along the east elevation and in two bays (901, 903 Locust) on the south elevation. Art Deco modifications were completed on the 905 and 907 storefronts in 1937. An Art Deco entry, storefront and lobby was installed at 911 Locust in 1935, including a revolving door, but the revolving door was replaced in 1948 with paired glass doors within the revolving door enclosure. Additionally a single storefront was created at 905-907 Locust by removing the lower portion of the load-bearing pilaster and replacing it with a half-round, steel column. Modernization of the storefronts again took place in the 1960s, removing some of the Art Deco period features, mostly by replacing some of the doors and display window framing along Locust with the aluminum framed units seen today. The second floor windows of these bays are triple window units with fixed transoms.

The city’s Cultural Resources office attempted to get the owner to retain the storefronts but ultimately had no authority to prevent their removal.  While I loved the design of these Art Deco storefronts I also knew they were an obstacle to getting tenants in the spaces. It’ll be interesting to see new storefronts in this building.

Will they be wood like the 19th Century originals or a modern design? I’d favor a modern storefront system at this point, with busy retail stores or restaurants behind them.

— Steve Patterson


Large 19th Century Home Being Razed, 19th Ward Not In Preservation Review

The once-stately residence at 3630 Page Boulevard was used as an assisted living facility for years. Now the 1888 structure is being razed.

2009 photo of Page Manor from GEO St. Louis
2009 photo of ‘Page Manor’ from GEO St. Louis
Earlier this week
Earlier this week from the #94 MetroBus

The sad part is this property is in the 19th ward, so Cultural Resources wasn’t even given a chance to review the request for the demolition permit. Most of the city is in a “preservation review” area where trained staff look at requests for demolition, referring some to the Preservation Board for a decision on the fate.

Note: city records list the property address as 3630 Page Blvd, but Page Manor used the address 3636 Page Blvd.

— Steve Patterson


Adolphus Busch Died A Century Ago

St. Louis has a long history of brewing beer and one of the most influential, Adolphus Busch, died 100 years ago today.

In 1906 Adolphus Busch caught a cold that turned into pneumonia.  After this, he grew increasingly weaker until his death from a heart attack on October 10, 1913. (Historic Missourians)

The story of how this immigrant became a historic figure in St. Louis & Missouri is interesting to me:

Eberhard Anheuser, who left Germany in 1843, settling first in Cincinnati and before moving to St. Louis. Trained as a soap manufacturer, he eventually went on to own the largest soap and candle company in St. Louis. Although he had no brewing experience, he became part owner of the Bavarian Brewery, which had first opened its doors in 1852. By 1860, Anheuser had bought out the other investors and the brewery’s name was changed to E. Anheuser & Co.

Adolphus Busch was born in 1839, the second youngest of 22 children. At age 18, he made his way to St. Louis via New Orleans and the Mississippi River. Adolphus began working as a clerk on the riverfront and by the time he was 21, he had a partnership in a brewing supply business.

It was through this enterprise that Aldolphus Busch met Eberhard Anheuser, and soon Adolphus was introduced to Eberhard’s daughter, Lilly. In 1861, Adolphus Busch and Lilly Anheuser were married, and shortly after that, Adolphus went to work for his father-in-law. He later purchased half ownership in the brewery, becoming a partner.

At that time, most beer in the United States was sold in the community in which it was brewed. Adolphus was determined to create a brand that would transcend the tradition of local brews and appeal to the tastes of many different people. In 1876, he and his friend, Carl Conrad, created an American-style lager beer that succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. Adolphus coined the label “Budweiser”, a name that would appeal to German immigrants like himself, yet could be easily pronounced by Americans. Budweiser was a success and eventually, became the company’s flagship brand. (Source – age verification required)

Youngest of 22 kids! Busch was 21 when he married 17 year-old Lilly Anheuser in 1861.

The Busches often traveled to Germany where they had a mansion, the Villa Lilly, which was named for Mrs Busch, in Lindschied near Langenschwalbach, in present-day Bad Schwalbach.

He died there in Lindschied in 1913 while on vacation. He had been suffering from dropsy since 1906. His body was brought back in 1915 by ship to the United States and then a train to St. Louis and he was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. (Wikipedia)

The Busch Mausoleum in Bellefontaine Cemetery
The Busch Mausoleum in Bellefontaine Cemetery replaced an earlier one holding Lilly Anheuser’s parents. Designed by Thomas Barnett and completed in 1921 at a cost of $250,000!

Between 1863 and 1884, Adolphus and Lilly Busch had thirteen children—five boys and eight girls.  Three girls died in infancy, but the remaining five, Nellie, Edmee, Anna Louise, Clara, and Wilhelmina, all married either German or German-American men and lived into late adulthood.  Clara married Baron Paul von Gontard of the German empire, and became a famous trendsetter in the city of Berlin.  Anna’s husband, Edward Faust, and Nellie’s husband, Edward Magnus, eventually served as vice presidents in the brewery.  Of Busch’s five sons, one, Carl, was born with disabilities and required special care, while three others, Edward, Adolphus Jr., and Peter, died of appendix-related medical conditions by mid-adulthood.  Only August A. Busch lived past his mid-thirties.  He became second in command to Adolphus at the brewery, and eventually took over the brewery’s leadership after his father’s death. (Source)

Learn more at Bellefontaine’s 2nd Annual Beer Barons Tour on October 19th, purchase tickets here.

— Steve Patterson


Gas Station Replaced Rock Hill Church Built By Slaves

For more than a century a modest stone church stood in what later became the City of Rock Hill. Built by slaves in the 19th century, it couldn’t compete with a gas station + convenience store in the 21st century.

rock hill church
Rock Hill Church, 2011
Same view two years later
Same view two years later
Now on the corner a sign notes current gas prices and a monument notes the history that was lost
Now on the corner a sign displays gas prices and a monument notes the history that was lost
Close up of the plaques on the stone monument
Close up of the plaques on the stone monument

I’ve been told the church was “fully integrated” because the Marshall family required their slaves to attend the church they built. A little feel-good revisionist history?

There’s nothing to feel good about on this site. This is now a sprawl corner like thousands of others in St. Louis County. What once made a positive contribution to the sidewalk experience has been reduced to a monument few will read as that would require exiting their car and actually walking a bit.

— Steve Patterson


St. Louis Civil Rights: Jefferson Bank Protest

Fifty years ago today, just days after the 1963 March on Washington ended, protestors were staging a sit-in at Jefferson Bank, then located on the SW corner of Jefferson & Washington, 2600 Washington Ave. The dispute, however, wasn’t new, it had been ongoing for seven years by this point.

Protestors in the Jefferson Bank lobby on Aug 30, 1963.  Photo courtesy of Kristen Gassel/St. Louis Curio Shoppe
Protestors in the Jefferson Bank lobby on Aug 30, 1963.
Photo courtesy of Kristen Gassel/St. Louis Curio Shoppe

As I detailed a few years ago, Jefferson Bank moved into their new building in 1956. After the move, all their cashiers were suddenly white. Black customers were no longer represented behind the teller windows. To learn more about the struggle, protest, and change consider attending an event tonight at the Missouri History Museum:

Commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Jefferson Bank protests, one of the most important chapters in St. Louis civil rights history, with those who lived the experience and those who continue the work today. 

Jefferson Bank Protests: Looking Back, Looking Forward Friday, August 30 • 7pm • Lee Auditorium • Free

I still find it weird that I was born just three and a half years after the March on Washington. I know society has progressed immensely since then, but work remains.

— Steve Patterson