Fountain Park Demolition?

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Fountain Park Neighborhood
North St. Louis, MO
Some residential business brought me to this neighborhood for the first time, and I was enchanted. Even on a snowy, bitterly cold day I could imagine the beauty of the park during spring and summer, and the houses ringing it have a stately charm. Then I saw the building, above.

There’s an historic church from 1895 at the southwestern edge of the oval, the rest is single and multi-family residential, save for this mixed-use structure at the northeastern edge.

It was built in 1897, with store fronts at ground level and apartments above. The building curves to match the geometry of the neighborhood, and the cylindrical turrets are like lyrical bookends. I immediately imagined decades of people lounging in these spaces, gazing out over the park, and it felt magical.

The building is certainly not in the best shape. Scavengers have carted off most all the valuable pieces from ground level, and severe water damage is evident. But the building is far from down for the count, so I checked into its status.

City records show that it may have been vacant since 1989, and that the Citizen’s Service Bureau received 6 complaints on the building between June 2005 and November 2006, mostly about the vacant building being unsecured. The easy assumption is that the immediate neighbors keep an eye on it, and won’t tolerate any nonsense.

Exact sales information for the building is unavailable, but it is now owned by Titsworth Properties, LLC, out of downtown Clayton, and I get the impression from past permit applications that their ownership is fairly recent.

But the most curious part is that building was first condemned to be demolished in November 1996, and a new demo permit was issued in September of 2006. Which has me curious about:
Exactly how do demolition permits work?
Why did Titsworth buy a building that was to be demolished?
If it does finally go down, what will go in its place?

A 1979 survey tags the building as having “state significance,” and there’s no denying it’s an important – and gorgeous – part of the neighborhood. Whatever would replace it would surely be out of place with the rest of the area. Or even worse, it would just remain a blank hole in a neighborhood that has worked hard to retain most all of its original fabric.

I long to know about the history of this building and what’s planned for it in the present and future. If you have any of the information, please do share, and keep your fingers crossed that some kind of miracle keeps it standing with intent to thrive.

10 thoughts on “Fountain Park Demolition?

  1. MY name is Latasha Lewis. I raised my children in this neighborhood. Im buying the house at 4845 Fountaine Ave. Directly across the street from this build.. Im with the VOYAGEMOVEMENT. This building would be PERFECT for our organization. Im interested in buying this building. Im meeting with the Alderman Soon to talk about the use of it. Would someone point me in the right direction so I can get the building

  2. Ms. Cari, don’t do that. The “certain kind of people” you speak of have been here for many years. I’ve lived in this neighborhood all my life (1974). This building, since I was a child, has always been vacant. The years, weather and lack of care is what deteriorated it. I have an aunt who recalls a store of some sort being in the space, which I’m sure there was. But no, don’t blame “certain kind of people.” Real Estate developers buy and do nothing for YEARS with properties they own. It helps to bring down the property value, invites unsavory elements and then comes the pushing of people from their homes to make way for “the other element” to move in, leaving swaths of empty land. Look at what happened to Old North St. Louis, the Pruitt-Igoe land for that matter. Nothing is still being done with that.
    So please, don’t assume because of what you think. That’s how a lot of life gets caught up in mayhem.
    Thank you.

  3. Everyone knows there’s a certain kind of people that move in the neighborhoods and don’t care about acting as civil beings and that’s why all the neat places taken away, torn down…and then they wonder why they are stereotyped…

  4. if you look at google maps you can see that the roof beyond the peak is pretty much all gone.

    titsworth has moved. the property record now lists it at: TITSWORTH PROPERTIES LLC Owner name: TITSWORTH PROPERTIES LLC
    Owner address: 915 WALTON
    City/state/zip: ST LOUIS,MO 63108

    and that property, in turn, is listed as residential, and owned by James and A.V. Goolsby. So maybe they’re the people behind Titsworth ?

    In any case, according to the assessor’s office, as of July 2010 Titsworth hasn’t paid the taxes on 4831 fountain for 2 years. could it be saved by foreclosure? what are the rules?

  5. why is something not happening with this building! i would by this and fix it back to original condition, another inquired as to purchase it . If there is this interest why is it sitting there detoriating by Titsworth doing nothing. Great architecture and are to make a great comback. I cant believe some of the buildings just sit here in st louis falling apart. Who and what is Titsworth anyhow!?

  6. I saw this building recently and was very interested in its history; as well as, the neighborhood’s history. I looked up some information concerning it and found out that Titsworth Properties, LLC, in Clayton recently purchased the building (as previously stated by Toby Weiss) but I could not find a phone number for Titsworth. I did discover that this building has State Significance according to a document I found online. The document is the Architectural Survey of Fountain Park April 1979 St. Louis Missouri Landmarks Association of St. Louis, Inc. for the Community Development Agency. However, I don’t know (at this point) what historical significance the building has.

    I hope that the building will not be demolished! This is a lovely community. I would hope that this building could be saved and used to house quality retail / service shops that enhance this community.

  7. There are so many blogs now about st. louis development (good and bad) and it is a very encouraging thing. But perhaps it is time to get truly organized as a community (those-who-want-to-retain-our-built-environment-community) and get the word out (beyond the blogs) that we have had enough and demand better from our leaders and from developers.

    The loss of a building like this may seem insignificant to most, but it will be horrible for that neighborhood (one of my favorite) and for the city as well. We continue to lose the character that defines our city.

  8. I’ve been in love with this building for a long, long time. Last spring, I finally got up the courage to look up the owner’s name and address to call and ask about purchasing it.

    The rest of the story is on my blog today …

  9. “If it does finally go down, what will go in its place?”

    Why, a Walgreen’s, of course!!

  10. You’ve just hit upon what is probably one of the finest examples of a mixed-use building conforming to its site. It has been almost two years since I posted about this very building and the neighborhood:

    Your images are wonderful. We can clearly see the massing, proportions and details are flawlessly executed. It would be a major loss to raze such a fine example of design — we need models like this to show us how to infill the gaps we already have.

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