South County Hidden Deco

Crescent Drive near South Lindbergh
South St. Louis County, MO
Going through a bout of stereo replacement grief required multiple trips to the Circuit City on Lindbergh near Hwy 55. Horrible part of town to drive in, and it’s impossible to hang a left onto Lindbergh from their parking lot regardless of time of day.

I cut across the parking lot to the street running along the east side of this shopping center and saw the house pictured here. It was not only the setting sun spotlight that made it stick out, but also that it was a blonde brick deco ranch in an incongruous area.

The house dates from 1938, with other neighbors ranging from 1938 – 1942, which surprises me. It seems a tad too early for this kind of house in this part of town, but near South St. Louis County keeps showing me all kinds of hidden architectural treasures. And this is a good one, because its individual features suggest design chaos, but it all works together in an utterly charming way.

Sylvan Springs Park

Sylvan Springs Park, South St. Louis County
Whenever Rob Powers is in town, we usually find something new and wonderful. This time, by simply turning down a street I’d never been on before, we saw the above sight.

My first impression was a quintessential drive-in concession stand plopped into a bucolic setting. Sylvan Springs Park is across from a back entrance to the Jefferson Barracks cemetery on Sappington Barracks Road. The reason Ordnance Shelter resembles drive-in architecture is because it was built in 1955.

The concession stand at the rear of the building is boarded up, but the rest of the shelter is business as usual, with a family (who were very cool about us taking tons of pictures) picnic taking place while we were there.

Ordnance Shelter looks out on a courtyard with short stone walls and small stage, lending the entire setting a quaint Jellystone Park vibe. While I circled the building in blissful disbelief, Powers – who is a working architect – was able to note that the building was in need of some serious repairs. This immediately brings up the fear that rather than repair it, the parks system will simply tear it down. This fear is compounded by the jinx I carry with me: if it’s a great example of mid-century modern still in use and I love it and photograph it, it will come down.

Some quick internet research shows that a skateboard park is planned for a spot north of Ordnance Shelter. I’m asking for the same thing at Carondelet Park, so it’s thrilling to know someone else had – and acted on – the idea. A 2003 Master Plan shows several suggestions for revamping the park, with most plans leaving this shelter standing. But one of slides shows it, too, being revamped slightly. So, fingers are crossed that its essential spirit remains unbroken.