2015 MISSOURI’S PLACES IN PERIL
ANNOUNCED JULY 24, 2015
Missouri Preservation’s UnHappy Hour
Missouri Preservation announced its list of the State’s Places in Peril for 2015 at a press announcement held at the Carriage House at Chatillon DeMenil Mansion in St. Louis, Missouri. The announcement was made at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, July 20, 2014 to a crowd of over 100 people.
The list of Missouri’s Places in Peril is announced annually to call attention to threatened historic resources in Missouri. Nominations are solicited from citizens statewide and the properties chosen are considered endangered for a variety of reasons, including deterioration, neglect, encroachment, potential demolition or a combination of threats.
Thank you to everyone who attended our Unhappy Hour! It was a great way to mark the new name for Missouri Preservation’s Places in Peril (formerly Most Endangered) as well as calling attention to these important tangible pieces of history.
Thank you to our Sponsors:
The Carriage House at Chatillon DeMenil Mansion
2015 List of Missouri’s Most Endangered Historic Places: (*re-listed properties)
A. Bend Road Bridge – Pacific, Franklin County
B. Livestock Exchange Building– St. Joseph, Buchanan County
C. Old Calaboose Jail – Elsberry, Lincoln County
D. The Former Faith-Salem Church (7348 W. Florissant) – Jennings, St. Louis County
E. Old Phillipsburg General Store– Phillipsburg, Laclede County
F. Woodside– Maplewood, St. Louis County
G. 100-118 W. Armour Boulevard– Kansas City, Jackson County
H. John R. Myers House and Barn (180 Dunn Road) – Florissant, St. Louis County
I. Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge – Hazelgreen, Laclede County
J. Superior Well Ticket Office – Excelsior Springs, Clay County
K. The James Clemens House– St. Louis, City of Saint Louis*
L. Kemper Military School & College Administration Building – Boonville, Cooper County
M. University of Missouri St. Louis Campus Buildings – Bel Nor, St. Louis County*
N. Phillip Kaes House – Sherman (Castlewood State Park), St. Louis County*
O. Greenwood Cemetery– Hillsdale, St. Louis County*
2015 Watched Properties List:*
The Route 66 Bridge – St. Louis, St. Louis County
The Henry Miller House – Bloomfield, Stoddard County
The Frank L. Sommer “Cracker” House – St. Joseph, Buchanan County
Oak Grove Memorial Mausoleum – St. Louis, City of St. Louis (NEW)
The Diamonds Cafe – Villa Ridge, Franklin County
Wheatley-Provident Hospital– Kansas City, Jackson County
The Kemper Arena – Kansas City, Jackson County
The Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church – Lexington, Lafayette County
The Russell Hotel– Charleston, Mississippi County
Houston House– Newburg, Phelps County
* The Henry Miller House – Bloomfield, Stoddard County (From 2014 Most Endangered Listing)
Oak Grove Memorial Mausoleum – St. Louis County (Newly added to the Watched Properties List)
The Route 66 Bridge – St. Louis, St. Louis County (Demoted from the 2014 Most Endangered Listing)
A complete list with photos and descriptions is as follows:
The Bend Road Bridge – Pacific, Franklin County
Also known as the Withington Ford Bridge, the Bend Bridge was constructed in 1917 by the St. Louis firm of Miller and Borcherding, and has been serving a major crossing of the Meramec River since that time. It is a Pratt truss sub-type of bridge known as a Pennsylvania through truss, its double spans notable in that they are technologically significant and well-preserved examples of the type. In the 1990s, the Missouri Historic Bridge Inventory identified the bridge as eligible for listing on National Register of Historic Places. At the time the inventory was conducted, Missouri had 17 similar road bridges with Pennsylvania trusses. Today, only three of these bridges continue to carry road traffic: the Bend Road Bridge, the Champ Clark Bridge at Louisiana, and the McKinley Bridge at St. Louis. The diminution of this type of bridge in Missouri mirrors the nationwide trend of replacing large truss bridges with modern concrete structures. Although approximately 250 Pennsylvania trusses are standing across the country, only 14 of these bridges have the same features as the Bend Road Bridge, and two of the 14 are likely to be demolished this year. Franklin County officials have pushed to replace the bridge with a modern span better able to handle the growing volume of traffic. Preliminary approval for federal bridge funding ($3.5 million) was given in April 2014. The county is currently acquiring right-of-way to build a replacement bridge in a new location that would eliminate the sharp curves along Bend Road at the current bridge. Construction of the replacement bridge is expected to be completed by the fall of 2016 with demolition of the old bridge soon after. At issue is not whether a new bridge is needed, but whether the old bridge must be demolished in the process. The Magi Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization based in Pacific, would like to adapt the bridge for use by the new Pacific River Walk Trail (www.pacificriverwalktrail.org). When fully completed, the river walk trail will interconnect with the Ozark Trail to the south and the Great Rivers Greenway of St. Louis County to the east. The Meramec River has long represented an obstacle for extending the Ozark Trail to St. Louis, but the refurbished bridge would provide a cost effective answer.
The Livestock Exchange – St. Joseph, Buchanan County
The St. Joseph LivestockExchange at 601 Illinois Avenue was designed by noted architect Edmund J. Eckel and constructed 1898-1899. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The imposing 4-story building is emblematic of the huge business livestock trading brought to this turn-of-the century economic powerhouse, with much of its wealth coming from the livestock trade. The St. Joseph Daily Herald reported on the impressiveness of the Exchange when it opened, with “the interior of the building finished in polished oak and marble. The trimmings of the chandeliers, elevator cages and stairways are of japanned iron. The steps in front of the building lead to a magnificent rotunda, 80X80 feet covered by a skylight…” The building served as the center of commercial in St. Joe’s South End. Although one of its few tenants, the St. Joseph Stockyards Company still occupied space in the building in 2004, although its 3rd and 4th floors were already empty, ostensibly for a renovation which never happened. Shortly thereafter the remaining tenants left and the building was closed. A local group of investors purchased the substantial building and intended to rehabilitate it, but the group was reportedly mired in infighting and internal lawsuits, and the building has continued to suffer from severe lack of maintenance. Currently the non-profit, Friends of St. Joseph is engaged to purchase the Livestock Exchange. Even though most of its current owners agree that it should be saved and restored, it is difficult to get the many owners to agree to terms of a sale. If a purchase can be worked out, the Friends of St. Joseph has plans for stabilization and utilization of the building. The nominators hope that this nomination will keep the plight of this important building in the public eye and perhaps convince the St. Joseph city government to do more to facilitate the matter of ownership and salvation to a conclusion that is in the best interest of this historic structure.
The Old Calaboose – Elsberry, Lincoln County
Photo courtesy Elsberry Democrat
Elsberry’s old calaboose was constructed c.1896 using limestone donated by local resident, Ira Smith from his rock quay on Page Branch Creek. Local citizen Effie Watts, a member of the Smith family lived in Elsberry and remembered that her Uncle Ira and his son Thomas (Effie’s father) had helped bring the stones into town, carried on a sled pulled by oxen. The stones are 17”X17”X36” and the floor stones are 36 inches wide and 45 inches in length. The calaboose is fitted with an iron bar cell on the inside with a potbellied stove, a wood bunk and a spittoon. The window and door are both fitted with thick iron closer under the care of the Elsberry Historical Preservation Society, the calaboose has become somewhat of a roadside attraction, with many rural vacationers stopping to take pictures. The Society is currently working on directional signage, as they realize the value of heritage tourism on the local economy. Through the years seasonal freezing and thawing have caused the limestone to separate and spall, causing pieces to fall, especially around the base of the structure. The Historical Preservation Society would like to incorporate the adjacent Robinson House and calaboose into a local museum complex. Given the very limited funds of the Elsberry Historical Preservation Society, they are hoping that the listing on Missouri’s Places in Peril will bring heightened interest – and funds – to this interesting and unique historic place.
The Former Faith-Salem Church – Jennings, St. Louis County
The Faith-Salem Church building at 7348 West Florissant Avenue in St. Louis County was constructed c.1954. It represents a mid-century piece of architecture that has “come of age” in respect to its eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed by architect Frederick Dunn and fitted with art glass windows from the Emil Frei Studios, this is a pristine example of modern architecture with integrated art glass, much like the Lewis and Clark Branch Library (Missouri’s Most Endangered 2014) by the same two designers, that was recently demolished by the St. Louis County Library Board. Frederick Dunn’s impact on modern architecture in St. Louis is substantial, with works including the soon to be demolished 1950 Edgewood Children’s Center, the headmaster’s residence at Country Day School from 1949, and the headquarters of the National Council of State Garden Clubs from 1961. The property is in fair condition at present, but a large percentage of the exterior is deteriorated, with window frames beginning to rust and exterior detailing in need of renovation. In 2014 Family Dollar Stores met with the City of Jennings to conduct preliminary site design review to determine the feasibility of demolishing the existing building to be replaced with a new pre-engineered retail facility of their own. The City has expressed concern about the proliferation of dollar stores in the area and might consider a zoning change aimed at that concern. It is hoped that by listing here, the owner will pursue a listing on the National Register and delay rezoning efforts to encourage preservation, rather than demolition of this important part of St. Louis County’s mid-century architecture.
The Old Phillipsburg General Store – Phillipsburg, Laclede County
Few small town buildings are as iconic as the old general store. The Phillipsburg General Store was constructed in the last years of the 1800s. It survived for many years as one of Phillipsburg’s largest buildings and now has the distinction of being the only historic building remaining in the village. The building sat next to the railroad tracks, and trains supplied the store with the many provisions needed for the villagers and local farmers. Sugar and flour, crackers and other needed items were bought in bulk and put in sacks to take come. Dolls and garden supplies, tools, as well as rabbits and chickens were purchased in the store and taken home in wagons pulled by horses. In later years Route 66 brought tourists to the tiny town. The upstairs served a variety of the community’s social needs, containing a small theater, an office where a lodge was located and where the Woodsmen of America met, as well as other groups like the American Legion. After the lodges were gone, ladies set up quilt blocks where they constructed quilts for many families in the community. During the 1990s some rehabilitation work was done on the old store and part of the building was used again for quilting and some antique sales. But in the meantime, a building that has been cut off from the railroad and its iconic roadway is in danger. A roof leak in the rear of the building has caused extensive damage to the rear masonry wall, which is in danger of collapsing. By listing here, the nominator hopes to rally local support for the old store building or to attract a buyer that is interested in renovation of this small town icon.
Woodside (The Charles & Mary Ranells House) – Maplewood, St. Louis County
Built by Charles and Mary Rannells c.1848-1850, this large frame two and a half story Gothic Revival farmhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Woodside is surely the oldest surviving structure in this St. Louis inner-ring suburb, and was probably constructed using slave labor. Many of its original features remain, with only the porches at this time in danger of collapsing. After an earlier listing on our endangered list (2003 and 2004), the City of Maplewood put a new roof on the building, which has greatly improved its chances of survival. In the meantime, though, new housing has been constructed adjacent to the former farmhouse, encroaching on the large lot that remains here on Bredell Avenue in Maplewood. Representatives of the City of Maplewood have contended that a realistic offer to purchase and restore Woodside has yet to be presented. A non-profit Friends of Woodside group is being formed to “discover, study and preserve the historic property known as Woodside…(with a mission) to promote educational programs, exhibitions and special events to provide the youth of the community as well as the adults an opportunity to better understand this historic property and to provide funding for its preservation.” This friends group ultimately hopes to help the city of Maplewood locate a new owner, and to encourage the City to preserve and protect Woodside until that time.
100-118 West Armour Boulevard – Kansas City, Jackson County
These four historic apartment buildings were built in 1902 and 1903 and designed by noted Kansas City architect John McKecknie. They are located in the Old Hyde Park Historic District and face one of Kansas City’s famous historic boulevards. After being purchased by developers in 2008. Since then they have fallen into disrepair due to a lack of routine maintenance and repair. The owners applied for a certificate of appropriateness to demolish claiming economic hardship and were denied by both the Historic Preservation Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustment. Kansas City’s Historic Preservation Ordinance only requires a 3 year wait to demolish when a certificate of appropriateness is denied, and the owners are currently claiming that they intend to demolish after the 3 year wait has expired, even though offers have been made by other developers to rehabilitate the buildings. The 3 year wait period will expire in September of 2016. In an article from the Kansas City Star it was reported, “The developer has declined to consider offers by other potential renovators and is poised to sit on the properties for another two and a half years, when the preservation commission’s demolition denial expires. The company recently agreed to seal up the buildings — three duplexes and an 18-unit apartment building — and carefully remove and store some distinctive exterior building features, such as porch columns. Well, as soon as that work began last month the issue of “demolition by neglect,” as local preservationists have been calling it, turned into demolition for real. The developer’s contractor began digging out brick entryways and clumsily backhoed its way beyond the careful seal-up called for in the developer’s agreement with the city. The work infuriated representatives of the Old Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, which has been trying to line up another developer to save the buildings.” By listing here, we hope the owners will be encouraged to either include the buildings in future renovation plans, or turn them over to a more preservation-friendly developer.
The Classical Revival style John B. Myers house was constructed in Florissant, St. Louis County c.1860. Its design features demonstrates the persistence of Classical and Palladian traditions into the Victorian era. The house and barn are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and were surveyed in 1967 by the Historic American Buildings Survey. The house was vacated by its owner some time ago and has been for sale for some time. In the meantime the property has fallen in to disrepair, with a large percentage of the exterior deteriorated. Dry rot exists in much of the home’s Palladian porch detailing, balustrades around the structure are missing parts or falling apart, and paint is flaking, exposing bare wood. This is not the first time the Myers House has been endangered. In 1974 the house and barn were slated for demolition to allow construction of the Interstate 170/Interstate 270 Highway interchange. Following the successful preservation efforts of Rosemary Davison and others with Historic Florissant, Inc., the Highway Department redesigned the interchange to accommodate the preservation of this important and rare property type and style in St. Louis County. Just before the announcement of this year’s Places in Peril, we were notified that Adam’s Auctions will be offering the property at auction on August 20, 2015. Those interested in bidding should contact them at adamsauctions.com or by calling 618.234.8751
The Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge – Hazelgreen, Laclede County
The Route 66 Bridge over the Gasconade River near Hazelgreen consists of a three-span through truss structure which was designed by the Missouri Highway Department and fabricated by the Illinois Steel Company of Chicago between 1922 and 1924. It represents one of the few bridges remaining from the 1920’s and constructed even before the Federal Aid Highway Act, which established a national highway system in 1925. Route 66 is without a doubt the most famous road in America. The bridges and roads that are part of the Route 66 corridor are important because they characterize Missouri and the changes that took place as a result of the automobile. Scenic byways such as Missouri’s Route 66 have value not only for aesthetics and preservation, but are also a way to promote heritage tourism and increase tourism income. Historical records show that there has long been an absence of repair and maintenance at this bridge. The Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen was reported for several years to be deficient, but no remediation done to correct its problems. Then in 2014 the bridge was permanently closed to traffic. Recently Pulaski County and the Missouri Department of Transportation reopened a similar Route 66 bridge, the Devil’s Elbow Bridge. The effort was funded in large part with grant money. It is hoped that a new group, the Route 66 Gasconade River Guardians can work in similar fashion to help raise awareness and needed funds to reopen this iconic bridge on the “mother road.”
The Superior Well Ticket Office – Excelsior Springs, Clay County
The development of Excelsior Springs, Missouri centered around the fact that in the 1880s, twenty separate springs bubbled forth four distinct varieties of water, making it the world’s greatest group of mineral waters. The Superior Well Ticket office, constructed some time before 1915 is adjacent to one of the last intact mineral wells in the town at 610 Roosevelt Avenue. Until two years ago, it was thought that all remaining structures relating to the individual wells had been lost to demolition and development. However, when the City acquired the property in a tax sale it was discovered that the Superior Well Ticket Office was still in existence, albeit hidden within a residence at that same location. Although its history is requires further research, at one point the Ticket office was purchased and developed into a residential structure. Over time, portions were added to the Ticket Office, giving it the appearance of a home, hiding its original purpose. While at present the property is in the custody of the City of Excelsior Springs and is uninhabited, there is concern that it will fall into further disrepair and neglect. Local supporters are in the process of examining the building in detail to determine where the original structure might be extricated from its later additions, and listing here will encourage the city to realize that the expense of restoration will benefit the City and the State of Missouri long-term.
The James Clemens House, City of Saint Louis*
Nearly a perennial listing on our Places in Peril, this house, completed 1859-60 was designed by architect, Patrick Walsh and constructed for James Clemens, who was a highly successful businessman and cousin to writer Samuel Clemens. The house is listed on the National Register and is a St. Louis City Landmark. This imposing Palladian-style villa with extensive cast iron ornamentation is one of the most intact antebellum mansions in the St. Louis area. After the death of the illustrious owner in 1888, the house and furnishings were sold to the Sisters of Carondelet, a chapel addition was constructed, and the property became the Convent of Our Lady of Good Counsel. The Sisters enlarged the property to include a dormitory and a Georgian Palladian chapel, which was designed by Aloysius Gillick and completed in 1896. Beginning in 1949 the buildings were used by a number of Roman Catholic communities and charities, and in 1987 it was sold to the Berean Missionary Baptist Association and then in 2005 to the Universal Vietnamese Buddhist Association. In these recent years, the complex has been used as a homeless shelter and the buildings have received little or no maintenance. A 1984 inspection report suggested that the cast iron used in the façade had become cracked and brittle, allowing water to be trapped behind. The quoins at the corners of the building were reportedly in bad condition, were missing fragments and cracking at the anchor bolts. A conservative price tag for repairs needed at that time was $100,000.00. Since then the building has transferred hands a number of times, the most recent being to the developer of the proposed “NorthSide Regeneration” project. Representatives of NorthSide Regeneration removed the cast iron façade of the house years ago when it was promised the building would be renovated. Since then, even though NorthSide has received millions of dollars in land assemblage tax credits for redevelopment of the area, nothing has been done to preserve or stabilize the house or additions, and the roof of the nearby chapel has collapsed. It is hoped that this nomination will encourage NorthSide Regeneration to complete rehabilitation of the Clemens House and to include preservation as a focal point of its future plans in the NorthSide Regeneration area.
Kemper Military Academy Administration Building – Boonville, Cooper County
The Kemper Military School and College was founded in Boonville in 1844 by Frederick T. Kemper as a boarding school and until its closure in 2002 was the oldest operating military school west of the Mississippi River. The Kemper Academy district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The campus consists of eight buildings owned by the City of Boonville. Of these eight, two have been refurbished and one is currently undergoing renovation. The remainder of the buildings on the campus are empty and most suffer from some sort of deferred maintenance. Since the construction of the Administration Building, it has been added to a number of times. In 2010 the tower located in the northwest corner collapsed, the biggest culprit being water infiltration. According to an engineering report from 2013, “the budget for repairs (to the building) will probably exceed any financial benefit from return for this structure. The southeast portion of the building appears to be the best option for any salvage if the city desires to keep this building as an asset on the campus and history of Boonville.” Based on the report the City Council approved measures to move forward with the demolition. The Kemper Alumni Association nominator to the Places in Peril contends that there is support from within the Friends of Historic Boonville, Kemper Alumni Association and the City of Boonville to preserve the buildings of the campus. It is hoped that by listing here that attention will be called to the plight of the Administration Building, and that the Kemper Alumni Association might be able to raise funds for stabilization and repairs to this and other empty campus buildings.
University of Missouri St. Louis Campus Buildings – Bel Nor, St. Louis County*
A community outcry against demolition of two important buildings on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis has caused this nomination to Missouri’s Most Endangered Historic Places. The first is at 2800 Normandy Drive and is currently known as Normandie Hall. This building is on the former estate of James H. Lucas, one of the original settlers to the area. Originally a convent for the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, it was constructed in 1922 and used by the Sisters until 1992 when sold to the University of Missouri. The University utilized the building first as on-campus housing, then as the Honors College center, then as a conference center, before vacating a few years ago. The University contracted with a demolition company earlier this year to wreck the former convent, then canceled the contract citing what it says was community support for saving it. The other building is currently known as the Alumni Center. Located at 7956 Natural Bridge Road, the house is a substantial Mediterranean style house built of all masonry construction in 1927. The exterior features stone, and red brick as well as a green glazed tile roof. Interior features include arched leaded glass windows, French doors, decorative plaster walls and molding and terrazzo floors throughout. The University vacated the Alumni Center and maintains that it is too costly to renovate. Given the strong community support shown for the preservation of these buildings, the University has agreed to stave off demolition to see if suitable owners can be found to renovate and again occupy these buildings. We hope that by naming them to the list of Most Endangered Historic Places, purchasers interested in renovation and repurposing of these buildings might be identified. Continued listing for the former convent building will ensure that the building, now given a reprieve, will be renovated. Our hope is that the former alumni center will not be lost or forgotten in the meantime.
The Phillip Kaes House – Sherman (Castlewood State Park), St. Louis County*
The land on which the Phillip Kaes house sits was part of a Spanish land grant to Samuel Pruitt, who was one of the first English-speaking settlers west of the Mississippi. By 1862, most of Pruitt’s holdings had been divided between the Lewis, Kaehs (Kaes) and Coons families. The house was sited on land belonging to the Kaeses. There is still a private cemetery on the property bearing Kaes family inscriptions. The house is designated a St. Louis County Landmark and is now part of Castlewood State Park. It suffers sorely from lack of maintenance. Acquired by the State Parks Department in 1980, one year later the first proposal to pay for its restoration started through the bureaucratic maze. Finally in 1986 $172,000.00 was allocated by the state legislature for the house, but officials shifted money to other needs at the park. In the ensuing years, time has not been kind to State Parks budgets and even though the house was listed in a previous Most Endangered list, has continued to fall into disrepair. This historic site has been held over from previous years as maintenance continues to be deferred and the building crumbles from neglect. It is hoped that this nomination will call attention to the need for increased funding for Missouri’s State Parks and historic buildings that have been acquired into the State Parks system.
Greenwood Cemetery – Hillsdale, St. Louis County*
Greenwood Cemetery was established in 1874 as the first commercial African-American cemetery in the St. Louis area. After emancipation and before the establishment of Greenwood, the majority of African-Americans in this area did not have a choice of burial location for their deceased family members – due to Jim Crow laws the potters fields and other city-owned cemeteries were the final resting places not only for indigents, but also for people of color no matter what their circumstances or status. Greenwood, with its rural location, park-like setting and 31.85 acres of beautiful well-kept grounds was a welcome change for the small but growing black middle class. Maintenance at the cemetery seems to have ended in the 1980s, as the cemetery showed a drastic loss in revenue due to decreased burials. In 1993 burials ceased at the cemetery due to deteriorating conditions and eventually vegetation was allowed to grow wild in all of Greenwood’s 31.85 acres, making it an impenetrable wilderness. Due to the many decades of neglect, the situation at Greenwood is grim. Much of the cemetery has been used as a dump site, the roads are impassable, stones have been toppled and buried, and shrubs and trees have now become impenetrable overgrowth. Despite current conditions, this site has potential as a cultural and historical resource. It has enormous potential for education, African-American genealogical research, and could be restored for hiking, biking and other activities. Though some cleanup work has been done at the cemetery, it has been carried over to 2015 as one of Missouri’s Places in Peril.