2009 Honor Awards

March 3, 2009

Rozier Award

Carolyn Hewes Toft

St. Louis City
Carolyn Hewes Toft has been at the forefront of historic preservation in St. Louis since the early days of the movement. Following graduate work at Washington University, Ms. Toft became the first Historic Preservation Officer for the City of St. Louis in 1976. She left that position in 1978 to become the first paid staff member at the Landmarks Association of St. Louis and the organization’s Executive Director. In that position for thirty years, she has provided an insightful, forceful, and consistent voice, advocating preservation of the resources that define the unique and varied history of St. Louis.

Well-informed and politically savvy, Ms. Toft successfully persuaded many local politicians and developers to preserve myriad individual resources and neighborhoods in St. Louis. Beginning with early successes in LaSalle Park and Soulard, she facilitated preservation solutions for Cupples Station, the Arcade Building, Laclede’s Landing, the Ville, Old North St. Louis, Midtown, and many other neighborhoods. She recently led a principled fight against the demolition of the Century Building in downtown St. Louis. Even though the building was lost, the effort informed the public about the importance of preservation and brought new supporters into the preservation fold.

Beyond St. Louis, Ms. Toft has been a preservation leader in statewide and national preservation efforts. In 1979 she was a founding member of Preservation Action, a grassroots lobbying organization that advocates for pro-preservation policies and programs at the national level. In the mid-1990s, she was a member of the Missouri coalition that successfully lobbied the Missouri General Assembly to pass the state historic tax credit. The resulting tax credit has sparked billions of dollars in preservation-driven economic development statewide and is a model for other state tax credit programs nationwide.

The historic preservation movement in St. Louis and across Missouri is strong today largely because of the focus, passion, and commitment of Carolyn Hewes Toft.

Osmund Overby Award

Houses of Missouri
Carol Grove, Ph.D and Cydney Millstein

Columbia, Boone County and Kansas City, Jackson County
Houses of Missouri, 1870-1940, by Cydney Millstein and Carol Grove is the latest addition to the distinguished series, Suburban Domestic Architecture, published by Acanthus Press in New York. It is an elegant, large tome that highlights forty-five architecturally distinctive residential properties. The text focuses on the clients who built these houses, the architects who designed them, and the architecture and landscaped settings of the houses. The wealthy owners hired architects who were both interesting and prestigious. As a result, the houses exemplify the best of the high style movements of their time. The book presents the entries in chronological order, making the text a history of architecture from the Gothic Revival style of the first entry to the Streamline Moderne International Style of the last entry, and the full range of styles in between.
An important theme in the book, as in the series, is that these were suburban houses. The roster of planners and landscape architects is as impressive as the roster of architects. Most of these projects had a distinctive relationship between the house and its landscaped setting. The authors discuss these designers and issues of context in a substantial introduction. An appendix of forty-two biographies of architects and architectural firms allows a fuller discussion of the broader aspects of their careers than would fit in the separate entries of the houses. A second appendix includes a thumbnail overview of forty-one additional houses that were not included in the main text. The extensive research for this book will be a boon to preservationists and scholars. With nearly 300 archival photographs, drawings and original architectural plans, the book offers the reader a very complete, virtual tour of these great houses.

McReynolds Awards

Irving School Partners

St. Louis City
It started with a relatively simple project – renovating the historic Irving School to provide affordable housing. But, like so many projects, this one morphed into a much bigger undertaking. As the developers considered their plans for the Irving School they realized that stabilizing the surrounding Hyde Park neighborhood, which had suffered for decades from depopulation and disinvestment, would be key to their success. The development partners acquired nine more abandoned properties in the immediate vicinity of the Irving School, many of these on the City’s endangered buildings list. They also erected seven new buildings on vacant lots near the Irving School. Designed in a style and scale that complements the surrounding historic architecture, the new construction will provide opportunities for home ownership, further enhancing the stability of the community. With the first phase completed and residents moved in, the developers are now exploring additional opportunities for rejuvenating Historic Hyde Park by renovating more historic buildings and erecting more compatible new construction. The positive repercussions of this simple project continue to snowball.

Melanie Blunt

Jefferson City, Cole County
Missouri is one of the few states in the nation that has an architecturally significant governor’s mansion. Designed in 1871 by architect George Ingham Barnett of St. Louis, it is an excellent example of the Second Empire style. As First Lady of Missouri, Melanie Blunt used her voice and her position to ensure that this important building received a historically sensitive rehabilitation that preserved its unique architectural qualities while updating the private living quarters for future governors and their families. Mrs. Blunt knew from living in the mansion that maintenance was long overdue. Advocating for a $3 million appropriation from the General Assembly, she worked tirelessly to make sure the project would be completed before a new first family arrived. The project included a complete restoration of the exterior and of the public rooms as well as renovation of the building’s private spaces. The slate roof was restored to match the distinctive pattern seen in historic photos. Paint analysis informed decisions about exterior paint colors. Upgrades to the heating and cooling system and the installation of new historically-appropriate windows improved the mansion’s energy efficiency. Although the project had limited funding and a tight schedule, Mrs. Blunt was adamant that all work adhere to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and that it be approved by the State Historic Preservation Office. Her stalwart support of this project ensures that future generations will continue to be awed by the elegance of the historic Missouri Governor’s Mansion.

Shirley Bush Helzberg

Kansas City, Jackson County
Shirley Bush Helzberg is passionate about protecting and promoting the history of Kansas City. Putting her passion to work, she has completed two outstanding rehabilitation projects in Kansas City’s urban core. Her first project, Webster School, restored the oldest extant school building in Kansas City. The Romanesque Revival school operated from 1885 until 1932, after which it housed a variety of commercial tenants before  Ms. Helzberg purchased the building. The restoration included replicating the original bell tower that had been destroyed by a tornado in the late 1880s. Now a high-end antiques shop and restaurant, Webster House spurred other developers to revitalize buildings in the Crossroads neighborhood. Mrs. Helzberg’s next project was the rehabilitation of five buildings in the Quality Hill neighborhood, just west of downtown. The focal point of the project was the Blossom House, a late 19th century mansion that had been abandoned and deteriorating for decades. After other developers balked at the project, Mrs. Helzberg leapt in. The resulting Class-A office space includes a modern circulation tower that connects Blossom House to the neighboring Girls Club building, making possible the preservation of both buildings. Not to be content with what is done, Mrs. Helzberg has a third rehabilitation project under construction. The 1938 Art Deco Vitagraph Film Exchange Building will soon provide offices for the Kansas City Symphony. Mrs. Helzberg is developing a rich legacy of restored historic buildings to honor Kansas City’s past.

Preserve Missouri Awards

East Armour Apartments

Kansas City, Jackson County
The East Armour Apartments project rehabilitated seven early 20th century buildings arrayed along one of Kansas City’s premier corridors for apartment living. These buildings, like most lining Armour Boulevard, were designed by notable architects and built by Kansas City’s leading developers. After World War II many of the apartment buildings along Armour Boulevard became low-income housing and fell into disrepair by virtue of neglect and low-quality “upgrades.” When the Georgian Court, Linda Vista, and Bainbridge buildings became Section 8 housing in the late 1970s, they were renovated with generic, low-grade materials that significantly diminished their historic character. Eagle Point Enterprises purchased these blighted buildings out of foreclosure in the fall of 2005 intent on renovating them to provide quality housing for tenants and to fulfill the existing Section 8 housing obligation. Financing for the $45 million project involved a complicated combination of funding sources, including state and federal historic tax credits and state and federal low-income housing tax credits. The completed rehabilitation significantly restored the historic exterior appearance as well as many interior spaces of the seven buildings, while raising the bar for low-income housing projects everywhere.

3316 Salena Avenue

St. Louis City
Patty Maher has dueling passions for historic preservation and energy efficiency that she has married in a number of projects, including the rehabilitation of 3316 Salena, an 850-square-foot house constructed in 1878. The building is an unusual house type called a “Flounder” or “half house,” referencing the slim profile of the namesake fish. St. Louis is one of very few cities where these houses are found. In addition to complying with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, the rehabilitation of 3316 Salena met the standards of the Homebuilders of America for high energy efficiency. The HBA recognized Maher’s use of low-volatile organic compound paint, locally available building materials, low-water plumbing fixtures, and superior insulation. This project demonstrates that even a very small project can be sensitive to our limited resources – both historic and environmental.

Bleckman Building

Washington, Franklin County
The Washington Farmer’s Market occupies the second oldest building on Main Street. Fritz Bleckman erected the two-story structure for his furniture and undertaking business in 1856. It grew to three stories in 1870 when the City of Washington lowered the grade of the street. Over the next century it housed a variety of commercial businesses. Following recommendations in the 2004 Downtown Washington Revitalization Plan, the City renovated the Bleckman Building as the hub of a new Farmer’s Market and Outdoor Civic Center. The project included replacing the deteriorated roof, tuck pointing masonry walls, and reconstructing the 19th century storefront. The interior was adapted for new public restrooms, an office for the Main Street Civic Pavilion/Event Manager, and meeting space. An exterior canopy and pavilion constructed around the outside of the building provides shelter during outdoor activities. Four groups worked closely together to make this $1 million project a reality – the Washington Historical Society, the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Washington, Inc., and the City of Washington. The project has had a major impact on the community and has fostered synergy among downtown business owners, residents, and visitors. The spinoff currently includes seven major building renovations, two new construction projects, and a large streetscape improvement, all currently underway in historic downtown Washington.

100-102 & 104-106 East Broadway

Excelsior Springs, Clay County
The high-quality rehabilitation of two vacant commercial buildings has created synergy in downtown Excelsior Springs. After moving to Excelsior Springs in 2004, Benjamin and Amanda Mook embarked on the renovation of the late-Victorian commercial buildings in the heart of the downtown historic district. The work included removing compatible alterations, restoring an altered storefront to its historic appearance, repairing damaged masonry, and installing historically appropriate windows. Historic features on the interior were also refurbished. The buildings now provide leasable space for three new businesses as well as the Mook’s law offices. Ultimately, the project will include second floor residential apartments.

Tinsley-West Filling Station

New Cambria, Macon County
R.L. Tinsley built a small filling station at the intersection of US 36 and State Route P in 1931. It provided services to travelers for almost 60 years before closing in 1989. When the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) embarked on improvements to the intersection, the plans called for the building to be demolished. Current owners, Tony and Tena Levett, purchased the station from MODOT in 2001. They moved the building to an abandoned stretch of US 36 on their property, one mile from its original location. They subsequently undertook a painstaking restoration of the Tinsley-West Filling Station, which involved hand-cutting roof shingles to match the size and geometric pattern of the original roof shingles. With vintage signs and pumps – even a vintage car – out front, the station clearly recalls the early days of auto travel.

City Hall

University City, St. Louis County
The 1904 City Hall building in University City is one of the most architecturally distinctive buildings in the state. The grand Beaux Arts design evokes the classicism of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in nearby Forest Park. The 1904 Exposition sparked the development of University City, and City Hall was the first building erected in the new city’s formally planned civic center. The restoration project began with the need to modernize mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems. Voter-approved Municipal Bonds funded the project and work proceeded under watchful eye of the Historic Preservation Commission, the local historical society, and the public. The architectural team faced multiple challenges, the least of which was updating systems and office areas while the building remained occupied. More complicated tasks involved making these upgrades with minimal impacts to the historical character of the building, especially in the elegant public spaces. The project not only embodies high preservation standards, but also met environmental standards that resulted in the award of LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Cave Springs School

Carthage, Jasper County
Four years ago, this one-room school house in rural southwestern Missouri was placed on Missouri Preservation’s list of Most Endangered Properties. Today it stands restored to remind us all about the history of education in rural America. After educating area school children from 1838 through 1966, the building languished. Lack of maintenance resulted in a leaky roof and crumbling brick walls. Missouri Preservation brought in a historic masonry expert to advise the owner about appropriate repair techniques for the very soft brick walls. The owner translated the Most Endangered status and technical advice into donations to fund repairs. A generous contribution from area residents Pat and Carolyn Phelps made possible a complete renovation, including appropriate masonry restoration, installation of a wood shake roof and replacement of damaged hardwood floors. The restored interior, now outfitted with antique desks, reminds us about learning in days gone by.

2009 Honor Award Sponsors
Commerce Bank
Wolf & McCahan, LLC
Marsh and Company, PA
Murray’s Restaurant of Columbia