5613 Gravois, near Bates
South St. Louis, MO
In the category of storefront additions, this one is my favorite in both aesthetics and neatness. It’s also a queer building in that not only did they add the compact MCM to the front, but tacked on two additions to the back.
City records are real confused about this site, maybe because there’s so much going on. Yet nothing happens at all, except meticulous upkeep of the appendages to the main building. The 2-family flat easily fits into the time period of the buildings directly around it: 1900 – 1920.
The storefront addition popped up in 1958 and has a distinct beauty shop feel to it. City directories confirm that hunch; Boris Beauty Salon worked the spot until the late 1980s, when Juls Gifts and Flowers took over. Since becoming aware of it in the mid-1990s, I have never seen it open and active, only well-groomed and resting.
I’m intrigued by how it’s attached to the 2-family flat; all the stair stepping, window insertions and roofing options. The hand of an architect is apparent because everything is so precise, which makes this addition a rarity in the category. Part of the charm of the others is the ramshackle vibe, while Boris Beauty is in a class of its own.