Home » North City » Recent Articles:

St. Louis’ Easton & Franklin Avenues Became Dr. Martin Luther King Drive 45 Years Ago Today

February 17, 2017 Featured, History/Preservation, MLK Jr. Drive, North City Comments Off on St. Louis’ Easton & Franklin Avenues Became Dr. Martin Luther King Drive 45 Years Ago Today

Last month, on the Martin Luther King holiday, I posted my 13th look at the street named after the slain civil rights leader — see Annual Look At Changes Along St. Louis’ Dr Martin Luther King Drive. From a STL250 Facebook post that has since been deleted:

This Day in St. Louis History, February 17, 1972:
Martin Luther King Boulevard is dedicated

A Board of Aldermen bill was passed that changed the name of Easton Avenue and portions of Franklin Avenue to Martin Luther King Boulevard. Alderman C.B. Broussard was a primary sponsor, and he announced that the change was part of a nationwide organized drive to rename street[s[ in honor of the murdered civil rights figure. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968 while standing on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. Just days after his murder, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

By 1972 St. Louis was aware the 1960s was its second decade in a row with major losses in population. In the two decades since the St. Louis population peaked in the 1950 census, the city lost more than a quarter of its residents. The biggest reduction, however, happened during the 1970s. By the 1980 census St. Louis had again lost more than a quarter of the population — in a single decade.

As the white middle class fled North St. Louis for North St. Louis County, commercial streets like Easton & Franklin Avenues were already in decline before 1972.

One building symbolizes this change better than any other. Demolition of existing 2-story buildings began on February  29, 1948 — the new JC Penny store opened the following year. By 1967 the store was so crowded a warehouse was added to the West (since demolished). Less than a decade later, the store closed on September 11, 1976.

 

The former JC Penny store (1949-1976) on MLK in the Wellston Loop in the modern style with an urban form, rather than style of its red brick neighbors that are 20-40 years older.
Click image to view the nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

As residents fled to North County retailers followed them. New shopping areas like Northland (1955), River Roads (1962), Northwest Plaza (1965),  and Jamestown Mall (1973) opened to serve the new suburban middle class. Franklin & Easton Avenues would have declined even it not renamed.

Can this corridor be revived? To the point of being the honor it was intended? I have my doubts. Perhaps we should do something different to causally honor Dr. King’s legacy and return the street name to Easton & Franklin Avenues?

— Steve Patterson

 

Bissell Water Tower First Saved 55 Years Ago Today

January 27, 2017 Featured, History/Preservation, North City Comments Off on Bissell Water Tower First Saved 55 Years Ago Today
Image from the 1970 nominating to the National Register of Historic Places, click image to view
Image from the 1970 nominating to the National Register of Historic Places, click image to view

Today’s post was originally supposed to be about how a historic water tower, one of our three, was saved 55 years ago. In researching, however, I found the truth was a little differing.

A few years ago the STL250 group posted a daily tidbit — I saved those which thought might be of interest here.

This Day in St. Louis History, January 27, 1962:
Salvation for the Bissell Street Water Tower

When news was released that the city had decided to tear down the dilapidated Bissell Street Water Tower at Blair and Bissell Street in North St. Louis, protests came from every direction. The tower had been losing bricks from its face due to water infiltration and freezing, but people demanded the structure be saved. Thanks to a matching grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the realization that tearing it down would be just as expensive, the tower was saved and restored. The Bissell Street Water Tower was constructed in 1885 to control surges of water pressure along with its older adjacent neighbor, the Grand Avenue Water Tower, shaped like a giant Corinthian column. Less than ten Victorian-era water towers remain in the United States, and three are in St. Louis.

Their post has been deleted from Facebook. So it was saved on a Saturday in 1962 — great

From the city’s page on the water tower:

Bissell Street Water Tower – City Landmark #12

Built in 1885, the Bissell Street Water Tower, also called the “Red” Water Tower, was designed by William S. Eames in the form of a Moorish Minaret.  The tower stands 206 feet high and is located at the intersection of Blair Avenue and Bissell Street in the Hyde Park City Historic District.

There are nine doorways leading into a space containing an iron standpipe and spiral staircase. At the top is a look-out platform. The tower was renovated in 1913.  There was an attempt to raze the tower in 1958, but luckily it was halted by Donald Gunn, the President of the Board of Aldermen.  The Red Tower was restored once again in the 1960s and designated a City Landmark in 1966..  It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

So it was saved from demolition in 1962, restored and listed on the National Register. Not quite.

From the nomination to the register completed on April 8, 1970:

No material alterations have been made on the structure since its construction and its appearance remains essentially the same as when it was completed. The tower was taken out of use  June 8, 1913 when new pumping engines rendered both it and its companion, the Grand Avenue Water Tower, obsolete. It has received no substantive maintenance since that date and has fallen into such a state of disrepair that it has been barricaded since 1965 to protect people from falling bricks. Because it has been deemed a danger to public safety, it is now threatened with imminent demolition.

This description of the physical appearance of the building is based on the data included in a field report by Edward A. Ruesing written, on February 26, 1970. The report is filed at the central office of the Missouri State Park Board, P.O. Box 1?6, Jefferson Building, Jefferson City, Misoouri 65101.

No doubt something happened 55 years ago today, but it was just part of many steps taken to save it from demolition. I haven’t been up there since December 2011 — not sure of the current condition. Would be nice to see the Compton Hill Water Tower & Park Preservation Society expand to cover all three of our water towers or help form an organization to help the two north side towers.

It is located at the intersection of Bissell St & Blair Ave.

— Steve Pattetrson

 

Annual Look At Changes Along St. Louis’ Dr Martin Luther King Drive

January 16, 2017 Featured, MLK Jr. Drive, North City Comments Off on Annual Look At Changes Along St. Louis’ Dr Martin Luther King Drive

Today is the 13th year I’m posting about St. Louis’ Dr. Martin Luther King Drive — formerly Franklin & Easton Avenues.  These streets were official renamed almost 45 years ago, on February 17, 1972.

As in the past dozen years, there are some bright spots:

The former medical office ion the NW corner of MLK & 14th has been vacant the last few years but it looks like someone is preparing to reuse the building which was built in 2001.
The former medical office ion the NW corner of MLK & 14th has been vacant the last few years but it looks like someone is preparing to reuse the building which was built in 2001.
Just West of Jefferson I noticed on-street parking spaces are in front of a bus stop for the #94. Parking cars between a bus stop and the bus means the bus drover must find another place to pickup/drop off wheelchair passengers such as myself.
Just West of Jefferson I noticed on-street parking spaces are in front of a bus stop for the #94. Parking cars between a bus stop and the bus means the bus drover must find another place to pickup/drop off wheelchair passengers such as myself.
Across the street a former bar & restaurant that had burned is now gone.
Across the street a former bar & restaurant that had burned is now gone.
In September the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) opened a museum at the location where the union was founded 125 years before. Click image for news story on the opening.
In September the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) opened a museum at the location where the union was founded 125 years before. Click image for news story on the opening.
 Another view of IBEW's Henry Miller Museum -- click the image for the official website. Haven't visited yet -- couldn't find hours, admission price, or accessibility information online.
Another view of IBEW’s Henry Miller Museum — click the image for the official website. Haven’t visited yet — couldn’t find hours, admission price, or accessibility information online.
A year ago, January 2016, the building was barely a shell.
A year ago, January 2016, the building was barely a shell.
New senior housing called Vandeventer Place, at 4232 Dr. Martin Luther King. A decade ago the St. Louis chapter of the AIA wanted to build a farmers;' market on this cite, but that project never got pff the drawing boards.
New senior housing called Vandeventer Place, at 4232 Dr. Martin Luther King. A decade ago the St. Louis chapter of the AIA wanted to build a farmers;’ market on this cite, but that project never got pff the drawing boards.
The corner storefront on the SW corner with Taylor is now gone.
The corner storefront on the SW corner with Taylor is now gone.
mlk201708Just West of Union is what's left pf a 3-story house I've watched slow;y deteriorate
Just West of Union is what’s left pf a 3-story house I’ve watched slow;y deteriorate
How the building above looked 4 years ago
How the building above looked 4 years ago
This building had a big fire a few years ago...but it holds on.
This building had a big fire a few years ago…but it holds on.
Friendly Temple Baptist Church is a major land owner in the area. though mostly surface parking. One building at Belt is being remodeled to open a bank branch.
Friendly Temple Baptist Church is a major land owner in the area. though mostly surface parking. One building at Belt is being remodeled to open a bank branch.
The banner reads "Coming Summer 2016", click image for February 2016 news story.
The banner reads “Coming Summer 2016”, click image for February 2016 news story.
One of my favorite buildings in St. Louis survived another year.
One of my favorite buildings in St. Louis survived another year.
The Wellston Loop trolley building is also a survivor, though it is looking rather sad
The Wellston Loop trolley building is also a survivor, though it is looking rather sad
The building was fenced off in August 2016, click image for history
The building was fenced off in August 2016, click image for history

The abandonment in the neighborhoods on either side of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive make the task of revitalizing this corridor all but impossible.

— Steve Patterson

 

An Urban ‘Agrihood’ Is Worth Considering In St. Louis

Fox Park Farm is now of many community gardens in St. Louis
Fox Park Farm is now of many community gardens in St. Louis

The recent Sunday Poll was actually two polls, both n0n-scientific. First, the questions and votes:

#1: Which of the following, if any, should residents be allowed to raise in the city? Animals would be subject to minimum space requirements. (Check all that apply)

  1. Chickens 29 [24.17%]
  2. Rabbits 26 [21.67%]
  3. Goats 15 [12.5%]
  4. Sheep 10 [8.33%]
  5. Alpacas 9 [7.5%]
  6. None should be allowed 8 [6.67%]
  7. TIE 6 [5%]
    1. Emus
    2. Ostriches
    3. Dairy Cows
  8. Pigs 4 [3.33%]
  9. Unsure/no opinion 1 [0.83%]

#2: Agree or disagree: With so much vacant land in the city, much more land should be used for urban food production

  • Strongly agree 16 [44.44%]
  • Agree 7 [19.44%]
  • Somewhat agree 8 [22.22%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [2.78%]
  • Somewhat disagree 1 [2.78%]
  • Disagree 0 [0%]
  • Strongly disagree 3 ]8.33%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

I think it’s fair to say among readers there is general support for some farm animal and increased agriculture. For a few years now I’ve been seeing stories about new suburban subdivisions with a farm in the center instead of a golf course:

From 2013:

There’s a new model springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement: Farms — complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees — are serving as the latest suburban amenity.

It’s called development-supported agriculture, a more intimate version of community-supported agriculture — a farm-share program commonly known as CSA. In planning a new neighborhood, a developer includes some form of food production — a farm, community garden, orchard, livestock operation, edible park — that is meant to draw in new buyers, increase values and stitch neighbors together. (NPR: Forget Golf Courses: Subdivisions Draw Residents With Farms)

From 2015:

The phrase “planned community” conjures up a lot of images — maybe a swimming pool, obsessively manicured lawns, white picket fences — but a farm is probably not one of them. 

Pushing back against that stereotypical image of suburban living is a growing number of so-called “agrihoods” springing up nationwide. These developments center around a real, functional farm as their crown jewel. According to CivilEats, there are currently about 200 of them nationwide. 

The latest, called The Cannery, officially opened this past Saturday on a site that was previously home to a tomato cannery facility located about a mile outside downtown Davis, California. The 100-acre project of the New Home Company development company is considered to be the first agrihood to take root on formerly industrial land. All of its 547 energy-efficient homes will be solar-powered and electric car-ready, KCRA, NBC’s Sacramento affiliate, reports. (Huffington Post: ‘Agrihoods’ Offer Suburban Living Built Around Community Farms, Not Golf Courses)

Also from 2015, a CBS News story, video below:

This CBS News story was recently repeated on CBS’ Sunday Morning. So this story and taking a survey on urban food production in the city got me thinking: must the “agrihood” movement be limited to very expensive suburban developments? I could see an agrihood being part of the development of the near north side. In an agrihood, the farm is professionally run. It’s not a community garden run my neighbors. It could be a way to create jobs for area youth. I’d want housing to be a different price points and not displace current residents.

We have more land than we’ll likely ever have residents to fill. For years, in cities coast to coast, people have been farming on vacant urban land.  St. Louis is no exception — see RFT’s 10 Local Urban Farms We Love.

— Steve Patterson

 

b

b

‘b

b

 

 

Three Houses on North 22nd Street Still Unfinished

In July 2011 I blogged about three unfinished houses on North 22nd Street, in a development known as Bosley Estates. Last week they remained unfinished and decaying. They’re at 3920, 3916, and the worst is 3912 (see on Google Street View).

Unfinished house at 3912 N. 22nd, July 2011
Unfinished house at 3912 N. 22nd, July 2011
2912 & 3916 N 22nd Street last week
3912 & 3916 N 22nd Street last week

3912 N 22nd St is owned by Jewell 7 L.L.C.:

  • Entity created on 6/27/2012
  • Entity purpose: “Generate profit from the development and sell of residential and commercial property.
  • Registered agent: Kymberly Graham: 2010 Kingsgate Dr 63138
  • Organizers: Frank K. Billups & Darryl M. Bills: 15663 Debridge Way Florissant, MO 63034

3916 & 3920 N 22nd are owned by MINORITY DEVELOPERS AND BUILDERS ASSOCIATION OF ST. LOUIS, L.L.C.

  • Entity created on 1/7/2003
  • Entity purpose: “All purposes allowed under the act.
  • Registered agent: Gary Johnson: 3918 Page Ave., St. Louis, MO 63113
  • Organizers: Gary Johnson, Ken Hutchinson, and Walter Allen: 3918 Page Ave., St. Louis, MO 63113
  • Tax bills mailed to: 625 N. Euclid Ste 500, St. Louis, MO 63108 (now luxury apartments)

Building permits for 3920 & 3916 were applied for, and issued, on 4/14/2006. The permit for 3912 N 22nd was applied for on 5/16/2006, issued a month later.

City records show 4 sales for 3912 N. 22nd:

  • 4/5/2006 for $15,144 LRA/back taxes (vacant lot prior to start of new construction)
  • 7/15/2009 for $2,500 foreclosure
  • 10/22/2009 for $2,500 foreclosure
  • 2/27/2013 for $4,000 as part of a multi-location sale

Four new houses on the block were finished and sold. If I had bought one I’d be upset these were allowed to go unfinished for a decade!  Bosley Estates is named after the alderman, Freeman Bosley Sr.

Not sure which will happen first, these unfinished houses completed or a new alderman sworn into office in the 3rd ward?

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

Rcvd a new book to review: 'Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty' by Scott W. Allard. Interesting focus. ... See MoreSee Less

4 days ago  ·  

Loving Rooster's new cafe seating. Perhaps just because the previous picnic benches were so awful for the public right-of-way (PROW). #stl ... See MoreSee Less

5 days ago  ·  

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe