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Property on Virginia Illustrates Mixed Uses, Evolution of Buildings

August 10, 2007 Books, Real Estate, South City 4 Comments

Buildings are hardly static and the property at 5411 Virginia in South St. Louis is a perfect example. What was once a 1-story structure grew over the years into a 15,000+ complex that includes a storefront, an office, an apartment, a garage and lots of open space. Over the years this property has been an early gas station, a bowling alley, a dance hall, a fried pies stand, a tavern and, most recently, a large-scale costume shop.


Preservation of buildings usual involves looking at a “period of significance” architecturally or historically. When originally built the complex was much smaller than today but we know from records, like the above, that the dance hall portion of the building on the 2nd floor was in place by March 1935.


The modern storefront may date to the 1930s as well.

The terrazzo entry clearly identifies the use as a bowling alley. The wood floor remains as well as some of the markings but the gutters have been filled in with wood and the manual pin equipment has long been removed.


The 5,000sf upstairs ballroom is a more “raw” space as the current owners removed the old plaster ceiling when they purchased the building back in the 90s. The space was used occasionally for parties, weather permitting (this floor is not air conditioned).

St. Louis is full of equally interesting buildings that, over time, have changed and evolved — sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. They are always fascinating. A great book on the subject of buildings is How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built by Stewart Brand.

As you might expect by this point, I do have an other motive for this post.

At my previous real estate company I had this listing and when I left the listing stayed there, I’m on good terms with the company & seller so all is good. In the MLS the listing still shows as “pending” but a backup is requested. I know a bit more than this but it is inappropriate for me to share details.Let’s just say if you or someone you know might be interested in such a property get on the phone and call your agent, me or the folks at Schaller Realty. The listing price is $199,900. Click here to view the listing detail (w/additional photos & contact info). And for full disclosure, yes I will receive a referral fee upon closing of this property.


Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. WWSPD says:

    ugh. I wish I had the money. What a cool space.

  2. Dustin Bopp says:

    It is my understanding that Ike & Tina Turner performed here in the ’60s. You could rename the building “Proud Mary.”

  3. Jim Zavist says:

    Just another example of perception versus reality and the old real estate conundrum of location, location, location. Put it in a different city on either coast, and you could probably add another zero to the transaction price. Just because it’s “in the city”, especially on a “state” street, it gets saddled, fairly or unfairly with local (mis)perceptions, as well. It’s a cool property at a very fair price with a
    lot of space for the money – it deserves better, as do a lot of other city properties.

    Bigger picture question – just how hard is it for a typical “home” buyer to find a mortgage for a non-traditional residence? Especially one like this that “needs some work” yet is also in a price range where there are multiple “normal” homes? Personally, I’d love to find a property like this with “loft” potential, but have been scared off from looking for financing.

    [SLP — When you have 20% down the options are pretty open on most properties, short of that it is getting a bit rough.  Save those pennies folks!]

  4. MattHurst says:

    neat! thanks for sharing the history here. bowling alleys, roller rinks, and diners are basically the bane of my existence, so this post made at least 1 check out of my big there


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