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Readers Split on Naming Commercial District

ABOVE: View looking east on Grand Ave toward the old white water tower

When last week’spoll (Name the future commercial district along Grand at the Old White Water Tower) started I thought the number of responses was going to be quite low, but it ended about typical (104).  But unlike most weeks, the results ended up being tied at four levels.

#1 (tie)

  • Grand Water Tower District 20 [19.23%]
  • Doesn’t matter, will never become a commercial district again 20 [19.23%]
  • College Hill 20 [19.23%]

I knew there would be many that would take the negative answer, just glad to see it didn’t get more votes than any other. I voted for College Hill, the name of the neighborhood,  but then I started thinking the commercial district and adjacent neighborhood should have their own identities.

ABOVE: The remaining intact buildings from the original commercial district.

#2 (tie)

  • Bissell Point 8 [7.69%]
  • The Column 8 [7.69%]
  • The Corinthian 8 [7.69%]
  • Other: 8 [7.69%]

I like Bissell Point as that was the name of the water plant that required both water towers in College Hill.

#3 (tie)

  • 20 Grand 5 [4.81%]
  • Grand College Hill 5 [4.81%]

#4 (tie)

  • Old White 1 [0.96%]
  • unsure/no opinion 1 [0.96%]

The eight other answers were:

  1. who cares?
  2. the pits
  3. The towers
  4. Do master plan first, then you will know what the name is.
  5. Grand Column
  6. tower point
  7. Ask local residents for their preferred name.
  8. The Intersection of Crack and Guns

For several of the above, may I direct you to STLtoday.com.

ABOVE: "Prayer Time Now" sign at community garden at Strodtman Pl & Bissell

I would have asked local residents but I don’t want their religion forced upon me just to talk, as I found out when I tried to set up a casual meeting. Hopefully I can find residents outside the official group that I can meet with in a place other than a church and without a prayer at the start and end of the meeting. More residents and businesses are needed, a closed religious group will not accomplish that goal.

The marketing of the neighborhood and district clearly needs significant help, the type of help not gained through prayer. You know things like consistent marketing of the name, website, Twitter & Facebook, etc. Neighborhood organizations should be inclusive and secular.

As I said above I think the neighborhood and commercial district need their own branding and campaigns. For the commercial district I’m partial to Bissell Point at College Hill. We would just call it Bissell Point for short, but the “at College Hill” would help market the neighborhood as well.

I suggest the following for the commercial district:

  • Set up a design charrette to plan where new buildings should be constructed, along with their massing & form. Adopt a form-based code based on the outcome.
  • Set up marketing for the neighborhood  & commercial district; a blog, Twitter account & a Facebook page for each.
  • Concentrate businesses on the circle and to the west, residential to the east of the circle.
  • Consider a Community Improvement District (CID) to help fund public improvements in the district.
  • Plan for restaurants around the circle with outdoor seating facing the water tower.
  • Work with Metro to promote arrival by MetroBus to minimize the need for large parking lots.

Many more things must be done, of course, but this is a start.

ABOVE: Looking east from Strodtman Pl

The potential is there, but will it be realized?

– Steve Patterson

 

St. Elizabeth Academy Raising Funds To Raze Historic Structures

img_0239
ABOVE: Original 1894 structure with 1914 north wing (left) and 1922 south wing (right)

St. Elizabeth Academy, located at 3401 Arsenal in the Tower Grove East neighborhood, is planning to raze some or all of their original structures. Which historic buildings is unclear, an email request to administrators for a response have gone unanswered.

From their 2010 Annual Report (emphasis added):

In addition to strengthening our academic program this year, we gathered a group of volunteers to join us in strategic planning for the future of SEA‟s facilities. The result of that study is a 10-year plan that includes renovation of the 1957 building and eventually replacing some of the buildings that no longer serve SEA‟s mission with a new facility. In order to implement this plan, we are beginning a capital campaign to raise the necessary funds.

While the funds for upgrading SEA‟s facilities are crucial for SEA‟s mission, even more important is creating an endowment to provide tuition assistance for the young women God asks us to empower. Therefore, the first phase of the capital campaign will raise funds to establish an endowment in addition to raising funds for the renovation of SEA‟s 1957 building. The second phase of the capital campaign will raise funds for a new facility.

The original structure with the two wing additions is what is I assume they want to replace. The only other structure on the site is the 1927 gymnasium, apparently in good condition.

img_02451
ABOVE: The 1957 structure faces south toward Arsenal St rather than west as before.
img_0249
ABOVE: view looking east down Crittenden St. toward the 1894 St. Elizabeth buiding

The original building with the two wings is a central part of the Crittenden Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983:

ST. ELIZABETH ACADEMY COMPLEX (City Block 1458)
Establishing an impressive visual focus for the District is the building constructed in 1894 for St. Elizabeth Academy with its projecting entrance tower facing west on Crittenden.1 Designed for the Precious Blood Sisters by Joseph Stauder & Son and built at a cost of $18,900 by contractor George Bothe, the three-story red brick building is 64 feet by 53 feet. Typical of much Catholic institutional architecture of the last decades of the nineteenth century in St. Louis, the building is a High Victorian amalgam. The central entrance tower with steeply pitched pyramidal roof is enriched by panels of ornamental pressed brick and by stone sill courses, key stones and skew backs at the second and third stories. Tower windows are paired below broad,slightly pointed arches. The heavily carved,double entrance doors with paneled wood reveals are set beneath a stone-trimmed arch and framed by stone-capped piers. Decorated copper-clad crosses crown the entrance tower and north and south gables of
the slate mansard roof. A strongly defined pointed arched corbel table is at the cornice onallelevations;slightlypointedarchesheadthewindows.
The architectural firm of Joseph Stauder & Son was one of several specializing in Catholic institutional design at the turn of the century in St. Louis and was responsible for numerous churches, parsonages, convents and schools in Missouri and southern Illinois. Their work included the complex of St.Agatha’s parish, one of the schools where the Precious Blood Sisters taught, and the order’s Mother House in O’Fallon,
Missouri. The firm’s founder,a second generation German,began work as a carpenter in St. Louis in the 1870s and was joined by his son Joseph, Jr. in the early 1890s.’ Later generations of Stauders designed the 1957 addition to the school.

A $40,000 north wing 51 feet by 97 feet was built in 1914 by contractor F. Kratzer from plans drawn by Brother Leonard Darcheid, who was trained as an archi tect before becoming a Franciscan. The design of the three-story building sustains, with variations, the idiom established for the 1894 structure. The central bay of the west elevation is marked by pilasters rising to a gable. Pointed arched corbel tables appear at the cornice and between the first and second stories of this Day. Window openings are segmentally arched and trimmed with stone key stones. Stone lintels head the second story windows of the five central bays on the east elevation. At the third story on this elevation and at the three eastern bays of the north Stone trim.  Similar arched openings appear on both elevations of the three- story passageway linking the 1894 and 1914 structures; the three bays of the first and second stories are doubled to six bays at the third.

The $51,000 south wing incorporating a chapel on the east was planned by the firm of Ludwig & Dreisoerner and constructed in 1922 by contractor John Grewe. The design of the west elevation matches and balances the north wing. The chapel portion of the building employs crossed gabled roofs and triads of lancet windows flanked by stone-trimmed buttress forms on the second story of the north and south elevations. Window openings at the first story of these elevations are unembellished rectangles set below a stone course. Five bays of similar windows are at the second story of the east elevation. A passageway identical to the earlier one links this building to the 1894 structure. A new entrance and three-story stairwell were added at the east elevation in 1957. (Wooden infill panels have been placed at the heads of all of the arched openings of these three structures and their linking passageways except for those of the lancet windows of the chapel.)

Architect Henry Dreisoerner designed the 1927 gymnasium at the eastern edge of the campus. The interior features one of the first lamella roofs licensed and constructed in the Midwest. (See Section 8.) A building cost of $34,000 was recorded on the permit for construction of the gymnasium which extends 141 feet along Louisiana Avenue and is 60 feet deep. S. W. Schuler was the contractor. On the exterior eccle siastical echoes are evident in the pointed arched roof covering the modern lamella roofing system, the copper-clad gablets above the buttresses of the fourteen-bay side elevations and the corbelled arcading on the north elevation. The basement is random- sized limestone set in dark mortar. Side elevations are articulated with arched bays at the north and south ends. On the south elevations diapering of contrasting dark brick is employed in a large blind arch; diapered brickwork also appears on the north elevation below five rectangular openings and corbelled arcading. Although there is no record: of replacement, the present asphalt, shingles probably replace the original asphalt roof. In the interior, the interlocking transverse arches of the wooden lamella system creates a diamond-shaped grid. It is now almost completed concealed by a dropped ceiling. The new school building of 1957 joins the gymnasium on the south; a one-story addition was built the same year at the north elevation.

A low crenellated wall of random-sized, quarry-faced limestone laid in dark mortar was constructed to extend along three sides of the school camous in 1938.

Very significant structures! I can just hear them at the Preservation Board in 5 years requesting demolition, ‘We’ve been planning this for years, we’ve spent a lot of money on architectural design for our new buildings.’

ABOVE: aerial of the campus.  Image: Google Maps
ABOVE: aerial of the campus. Image: Google Maps

The state mental hospital west on Arsenal comes to mind.  Originally the State of Missouri wanted to raze the original domed structure hidden behind a 1950s building.  Thankfully the state realized it was better to raze the 1950s building and renovate the more stately original structure while building new structures elsewhere on their grounds.

The campus is located within the current boundaries of the 6th ward,  alderwoman Kacie Starr Triplett is alumni of St. Elizabeth Academy.

I’m not suggesting St. Elizabeth raze their 1957 building, just that they find a way to incorporate their historic west-facing structures into their plans for the future.

– Steve Patterson

 

Readers: public bodies should stick to business at hand, skip opening prayers

I was pleasantly surprised by the results of the poll last week with more than twice as many saying prayer should be private as opposed to those that want to encourage prayer in public (government) meetings.  Add in those that don’t care and those that are OK with a moment of silence and it is clear this small sample would prefer to have public meetings without prayer on the agenda.

  1. Prayer should be private, public meetings is not the right place 79 [43.17%]
  2. Prayer at public meetings should be encouraged, not restricted 38 [20.77%]
  3. Don’t care either way 29 [15.85%]
  4. A moment of silence is ok but anything else is going too far 24 [13.11%]
  5. Mentioning God is ok, but not Jesus 10 [5.46%]
  6. Other answer… 3 [1.64%]

The three “other” answers submitted were:

  1. Religion and politics should never mix…NEVER
  2. Prayer at public meetings should be neither encouraged or restricted
  3. replace prayer with the pledge of allegiance, like other places do

As I said last week I will strongly defend your right to believe as you wish but to have that forced upon everyone attending a public meeting is anti-American.  Do the government business in one building and your personal religion of choice in your office, church, hallway, restroom or quietly by yourself — just keep it off the official agenda.

– Steve Patterson

 

Poll: Public meetings without prayer

The poll this week is about an issue that often ends up in court — the role of prayer during public meetings.  Many public bodies do not begin their meetings with a prayer, but others do. One that does is the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Here is their outline for each meeting:

Rule 13 Regular Order of Business
The Order of Business and Procedure shall be as follows:

1. Roll Call.

2. Suggested Prayer.

“Almighty God, source of all authority, we humbly ask guidance in our deliberations and wisdom in our conclusions. Amen.”

3. Announcement of any Special Order of the Day.

4. Introduction of Honored Guests.

5. Approval of minutes of previous meetings.

6. Report of City Officials.

7. Petitions and Communications. (Source)

Increasingly public bodies that include prayer as part of their agenda are being challenged in court:

Federal District Court Judge James A. Beaty this morning ruled that Forsyth County is violating the U.S. Constitution by allowing prayers with sectarian references before meetings of the county board of commissioners.

Beaty ordered the county to stop allowing prayers under its current policy, which had come under fire from those who said that the county was promoting Christianity because most of the prayers have made reference to Jesus.

Beaty gave the county several options in his order. He said that the county could choose to open meetings without a prayer, or could require that prayers contain no sectarian references.

Mike Johnson, the attorney representing the county, told commissioners this morning that he hopes they will appeal the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. That court traditionally also has ruled against sectarian prayer at public meetings.

Today’s ruling by Beaty confirms what a magistrate recommended in November. The lawsuit was filed in March 2007 by several county residents, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union. They asked that the commission only allow non-sectarian prayer at meetings; in those, references to God are allowed, but to specific deities such as Jesus Christ or Buddha are not.

The lawsuit prompted other counties to study their policies on invocations before public meetings. Several, such as Yadkin County, changed their policies to eliminate sectarian prayer. Others, such as the Winston-Salem City Council, have held off, saying they would wait to see the outcome of the Forsyth County case.  (Source)

One example is the Texas State Board of Education:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdhGK9aYjDY

Friday the prayer at the start of the Board of Aldermen mentioned God four times.The poll this week asks how you feel about prayer and public meetings. The poll is on the right hand side of the site.  The final results will be posted Wednesday June 30, 2010.

– Steve Patterson

 

Give up (bad) fish for Lent

February 19, 2010 Environment, Religion 1 Comment
ABOVE: Pike Place Market Seattle WA 2003
ABOVE: Pike Place Market Seattle WA 2003

Today many of you will begin an annual routine, the Friday fish fry during Lent.  Fish does have many beneficial qualities:

“Seafood plays an important role in a balanced diet. It’s often rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help boost immunity and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and other ailments. Omega-3s are especially important for pregnant and nursing women, and young children. Unfortunately, some fish carry toxins that can become harmful when eaten frequently.”

Toxins?  Yes, toxins:

“Seafood contaminants include metals (such as mercury, which affects brain function and development), industrial chemicals (PCBs and dioxins) and pesticides (DDT). These toxins usually originate on land and make their way into the smallest plants and animals at the base of the ocean food web. As smaller species are eaten by larger ones, contaminants are concentrated and accumulated. Large predatory fish-like swordfish and shark-end up with the most toxins. You can minimize risks by choosing seafood carefully.”

Some fish is safe for humans and harvesting doesn’t harm the oceans.  Others, however, are bad for people and oceans.

Local PBS affiliate KETC did a nice 10-minute segment showing the considerable work that goes into a weekly fish fry:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADp6d4QPLV0

In ancient times meat was expensive and fish was cheap.  For the rich, giving up meat was indeed a sacrifice. Today good fish that is sustainably harvested is quite expensive.   My understanding is the fish commonly used is cod.  As with most fish, quality depends on where and how it was harvested:

AVOID: Cod: Atlantic, Iceland and Northeast Arctic (trawled), and Pacific (imported)

GOOD ALTERNATIVES: Cod: Atlantic (Northeast Arctic and Iceland), Cod: Pacific (U.S. trawl)

BEST CHOICE: Cobia (US farmed), Cod: Pacific (trap, hook-and-line, longline from AK+) (Source: Seafood Watch)

For most of us not on the coast our fish is frozen:

If you buy for your local fish fry, please ensure the fish used is not on the “avoid” list.

– Steve Patterson

 

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