St. Louis City
The Hodgen School is located in the “Gate District” on the Near South Side of St. Louis. Designed by Otto Wilhelmi and completed in 1884, the school was Wilhelmi’s first, if not only, design for a new school building in the district. The construction of Interstate Highway 44 in the early 1960s isolated Hodgen and the northern part of the Compton Hill region, driving away many residents and spurring waves of demolitions. In 1991 the City of St. Louis commissioned the nationally-renowned firm Duany Plater-Zyberk to execute a redevelopment plan for the area. Their plan called for extensive infill construction and historic rehabilitation of remaining buildings, and branded the area “The Gate District” while identifying smaller neighborhoods within its boundaries. Hodgen Elementary continued to serve the area, receiving over $400,000 worth of renovations in the late 1990s before the school district constructed new facilities to its immediate west in 2001. The original Hodgen Elementary was subsequently closed, and has been vacant since. It remains the Gate District’s sole historic school building, and although an excellent candidate for rehabilitation, the school district currently plans to demolish the building for additional parking and recreational facilities for the new school building. There is strong local opposition to demolition. Neighborhood residents and preservationists have sent letters of opposition to the superintendent and to the Special Administrative Board. The Landmarks Association of St. Louis sent the superintendent a letter of opposition and covered the building in its spring 2011 newsletter.
Listed in 2011.
Update: The Transitional School District of the City of St. Louis Special Administrative Board voted on February 16, 2012 to expend almost three quarters of a million dollars to demolish the Hodgen School for a playground and parking lot. This represents what we feel is a tremendous waste of a useful building in a (currently non-accredited) school district which is already financially strapped. The building is in an area of St. Louis which is known for its vast tracts of vacant land, so the district need not look very far for available playground or parking space.