An MCM Light Bulb Moment

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5230 Hampton Avenue, South St. Louis City, MO

While yet again photographing the former Buder branch of the St. Louis Public Library, I had a literal “light bulb went off over my head” cartoon moment of realization.  All of the original pole light fixtures of this 1961 building (which still work, courtesy of the great up-keep from the Record Exchange), look like the ones that are now missing from…


…this 1959 church in Black Jack which I covered here, previously.  Checking my photo archives verified that, yes, it is the exact same light fixtures.  Vandals killed off the light poles in the church parking lot, so it’s a relief to have some representation of them still in existence.

I love how the same light fixture was used on two different ultra-modern mid-century buildings, and how diverse the two locations are.  One is South St. Louis City and the other is deep North St. Louis County.  And I wonder if the Buder Building architect (still unknown to me) may have seen the light poles at the Independent Congregational Church and did a direct copycat?  Or was this just a popular lighting choice for MCM architects during this 3-year period, thanks to the hustle of some lighting vendor?

4 thoughts on “An MCM Light Bulb Moment

  1. I went to church at Independent UCC all of my childhood life until my early Adult life. My 1st Child was Christened there. I would also like to know what happened to Rev. Jack Forest. Was Christened at the Church on Fair and Margaretta. Was married at the location on Halls Ferry Road. I have photos of the inside of the Church on my Wedding Day. What memories I have of this Church! My Mother is 97 years old and still has vivid memories of these churches. If you would like any of this information you may contact me at my E-Mail address. Thank you!

  2. Hey there, George! I know someone who lives the second building in from Hampton on Loran. I love that he can see the Buder from a side window, so gave him a black & white shot that I took of it. How lucky of you to grow up with it!

  3. Hi Toby,

    We met at the MCM walking tour in May. I mentioned that my mom and dad spent their wedding night at the former Bel Air Motel on Euclid 50 years ago, and saw you again at an event in Clayton. I grew up on Loran Ave., the street across Hampton right outside the west entrance of the former Buder Library. A grade school friend of mine who has since passed lived in one of the houses alongside the library which actually is Loran also although it appears to be Eichelberger. Check it out next time you’re in that area–one of those quirky things that has always intrigued me. Good 70’s grade school and 80’s high school library memories. I have only been in the building once since it’s been a music store and that was close to ten years ago. Just FYI the room at the top of the stairs (inside) was used as a film room. I hope the Calder-like mobile is still hanging from the lobby ceiling. I’m certain it was called “Pomegranate”. There use to be a plaque on the lobby wall indicating the mobile. Now I have a need to get back inside that building!

    Have a Happy Holiday, Toby.

  4. From one vantage point, it appears to be a skyward-facing toilet plunger. But considering the time period of origin, I’m sure you could somehow orient the camera to give the illusion of a gen-u-wine UFO ! I pass that south city place all the time on the way to either Pueblo Solis or Onesto.

    Great post as usual. Happy Holiday, Toby.

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