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  • Former Buder Library on Hampton is For Sale

    Posted on April 1st, 2013 Toby Weiss 8 comments

    01 buder for sale

    The Record Exchange at 5320 Hampton Avenue in South St. Louis has put their (nearly historic) building up for sale so they can move to a bigger place. Here’s the sales brochure:

    5320 Hampton Avenue.indd - 5320 Hampton Avenue.pdf

    Hilliker gives it only one page. Very dull way to sell an exciting building. I’ve covered this building a few times (including a b&w study from 2001 on this page). It has been covered on Built St. Louis. So the realtor could legitimately say it’s a “much-talked about, much-loved building.”

    03 buder for sale

    Another selling point: this building recently made it onto the Final 40 List of the City of St. Louis Mid-Century Modern Survey. The night we attended the public meeting, it got an awful lot of votes. It stands a very good chance of making it to the Top 20 that will receive full documentation of its worthiness.

    The owner of the building and the record store, Jean Haffner, knows his 1961 building by architect Joseph H. Senne is pretty special. But he was pleasantly surprised it had made it onto an MCM survey.

    It is true they need a bigger place, something “about the size of a grocery store” said Haffner. (Side Note: the FYE at Hampton & Chippewa was originally opened in 1958 as a National Food Store.) They now do the bulk of their business on-line (at this site) and need to be better able to access their inventory while adding to it. Thus, a bigger building.

    Have there been any interested buyers?
    Haffner says yes. Including a party that would like to turn it into an art gallery as inspired by the metal mobile in the lobby:

    04 buder for sale

    This piece is titled “Pomegranate” and was designed for the library by a nationally-recognized artist whose name I was told, but forget. The Record Exchange is an overly stimulating place, so it’s an accomplishment that I remember this much of our conversation.

    UPDATE: Thank you to reader Hillary who leaves the name of the artist in the comment – Fred Dreher. And thanks to Sally for this article about Dreher.

    According to Mr. Haffner, he made sure it stayed with the building when he bought it in 1999, and at this point, the mobile alone is worth more than the asking price of the building.

    05 buder for sale

    They do need to sell the Buder in order to buy a new place.  Here’s hoping the perfect buyer who loves the building as is comes along so everyone wins.

    P.S. Thank you to everyone who sent messages and photos about the For Sale sign in front of the Buder. It’s impressive to have all these eyes on the street who also have my back and share this kind of information. You’re awe-inspiring!

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  • Retro Retail Holiday

    Posted on December 27th, 2010 Toby Weiss 8 comments

    West Florissant & Hwy 270
    North St. Louis County, MO

    St. Louis hasn’t seen the likes of a Venture sign since 1998. But for the holiday shopping season, much like Gypsy Rose Lee peeling and dropping a glove, Venture teases us with a blast from the past.

    One question though: after 12 years, Kmart still won’t spring for real signage?  Nice job, class all the way.

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  • Farewell to Globe Drug Store on Cherokee

    Posted on June 10th, 2010 Toby Weiss 12 comments

    Globe Drugs
    2626 Cherokee Street
    South St. Louis, MO

    The Cherokee Street News broke the news that the venerable Globe Drug store had closed its doors, and got the sentiment right in the headline: 1939-2010. It does feel like a friend has died.

    I was expecting a mass outpouring of reports and condolences in the St. Louis press, but so far, only the RFT has jumped on the tragic news. Thank you.

    After the initial shock, my first thought was of Sandy Cohen, the son of the Globe Empire begun in 1939.  Sandy was born into this store, and it’s the only job he’s ever had. His enthusiasm and love for his working retail museum never seemed to waiver, and if – from his perch in the pharmacy – he noticed you taking pictures and reveling in the atmosphere, he’d cheerfully offer to take you on a tour.

    Sandy would point out that the place was a 905 liquor store before his family took over, and iron grills over the vents in the ceiling confirm that this 1913 building was the home of a long-gone, sorely missed St. Louis cheap buzz tradition, from 1937 – 1953.

    A Sandy tour gave you backstage access, which in this case is a ride in the original, unadulterated freight elevator up to the 2nd floor. The door loudly slid open to reveal a vast, dark area used for storage, with still-decorated Christmas trees and unopened Easter baskets scattered about.

    And then comes the reveal of a bowling alley?

    Sandy wasn’t quite sure if there actually was a bowling alley in the building, or if this was just a rescued relic from elsewhere that found a permanent home in the Globe Museum.

    The business office truly was a scrapbook of the history of the Globe, and of the Cohen family, both blood related and extended.

    The rendering of the St. Louis cityscape (above) was commissioned by Joe as a way to feature all 4 Globe locations. As of this writing, the variety store on South Broadway near Soulard, and the wholesale warehouse at Clark & Tucker in downtown St. Louis remain open.  The Globe variety store a couple of blocks west of 2626 Cherokee closed in the mid-90s.

    Among the hundreds of photos on the walls is a shot of this store when it was 905 Liquors.

    And here’s the same ceiling fixture still in place today.

    One of Sandy’s favorite mementos is a letter he received in 2008 from someone confessing to having stolen candy from the store when they were 10. They apologized and sent along this dollar to pay for what they took.

    Globe Drug was one of those rare birds: a still-vibrant, direct link to the past. History has personal meaning when you can physically trace the connections and experience a small slice of what life was like before it hit warp speed, before it was corporate, before rat-a-tat gloss suffocated neighborhood personality.

    We’re at the reverse of needing to advance the population; the earth is suffering the damage of too many people at one time. So the modern need for offspring  seems an instinctive drive for immortality. Globe Drug felt like a slice of immortality, St. Louis style. I can feel the heavy sadness of Sandy Cohen and family as they pack up 57 years of life and cart it out of this building. And even as the neighborhood comes back to life all around it, all of us will feel the emptiness as we pass by 2626 Cherokee.

    From a Suburban Journals article on the office wall:

    “Who says that you can’t go back? In the “hurry, hurry” world of today’s super conglomerate drug stores, Globe Drugs…stands proudly as proof that quality and commitment to its customers needs still make a difference.  …the Cohen family has worked hard to keep the nostalgic atmosphere that you would have found when FDR was in the White House… So, go back. Go back to a time when a variety store was the cornerstone of a community.”

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  • For a Change, Some Good News

    Posted on February 21st, 2009 Toby Weiss 1 comment

    panache-plus-01

    Wilmington & Leona Avenues
    South St. Louis City, MO

    This warms the cockles of my heart, it really does.  In the middle of a depression, with people losing jobs and properties sitting vacant and anxiety growing every day, these people start a new business venture and have a grand opening!

    Panache Plus soft-opened in my neighborhood last week. Their grand opening is this weekend. I do not know these people, and I won’t be able to shop here (though I certainly would if I could), so this isn’t an advertisement. It’s simply a big hug of happiness for these people denying the anxiety, ignoring the odds, and adding a bit of color and, well, panache to the neighborhood.

    panache-plus-02

    This charming little building was previously a day care, and it didn’t sit vacant for too long. I watched the place getting fixed up by new tenants, and prayed real hard for a coffeehouse. But plus size retail, resale and altering is just as good, and actually more unique and practical than a coffeehouse, especially the resale aspect in a crap economy. So, here’s wishing the best of luck to this small spot of optimism in our neighborhood!

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