Intersection of Clayton, Forest & Oakland Avenues
St. Louis City, MO
It’s hard to get noticed when you’re wedged into a 3-way intersection within a larger intersection of the wackiest interchange in the City of St. Louis. People are too busy trying to figure out where to go to pay much attention to things that are not the world’s largest Amoco sign or the retro-fabulous Hi-Pointe Theatre. For verification that this is no exaggeration, take a look at the map to see how confusing this slice of roadway really is.
Getting on foot to try and get to the Hayes Hi-Pointe Building is almost as challenging, because of all the vehicles that are either a) confused about which way to turn, or b) irritated at those who don’t know which way to turn. Photographically, the building itself is often encumbered with for sale/lease banners, overgrown landscaping (see above) or – as on this day – a boarded up window on the Oakland Avenue side, which was a fresh accident because the shattered glass was still spread across the sidewalk.
Aside from all the challenges, it’s a sharply tailored slice of mid-century modern in the Hi-Pointe neighborhood. City records claim the building is from 1905, which is absurd, both stylistically and construction-wise, and a 1958 aerial calendar shows nothing much at all on this odd plot of land. By 1961, the City directory lists Alfred W. Hayes & Co. (the building’s namesake) and Algonquin Investment Co. at this address (plus a couple of physicians), and the architecture matches that year.
A walk around this trapezoidal building reveals many subtle details not noticeable while driving by, and is a mini-workout because it’s all up or down hill, and the building does a nice job of attuning itself to the topography. For all the difficulty the site, the intersections and the upkeep present, it’s still one of my most favorite overlooked mid-century modern gems in St. Louis City.
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I actually drew up plans for a huge roundabout at this intersection. I think if Wells Dr. was routed to the hypothetical roundabout, and a new gate to Forest Park was created, it would really turn that area into a world class streetscape. Imagine a beautiful fountain in the middle of the intersection instead of a tangle of traffic lights taking your picture if you get confused and make a wrong turn.
I live in Dogtown and drive past this building about 4x a day. It was for sale for quite some time but I haven’t seen a sign in a few months. It’s one of my favorite mid-century buildings. It may need some work here and there but overall it’s very attractive. You can also find that the prior listing agents (Co. is NAI Desco) have a nice selection of mid-century properties for sale or lease throughout the city and county.
As far as this intersection goes I’m ‘B.’ It irritates me so much that when my lease is up I’m moving outta here. I understand it may be confusing to see but their are signs directing you in the right direction. If people just looked up at what they are doing and not at their phone, mirror or radio they could see what they need to do.
Maybe its just me?
Great find! The only other intersection I can think of that comes anywhere close is Gravois-Jefferson-Sidney, especially if you’re westbound on Sidney and need to make a right to northbound Jefferson.
Historically, at least through part of the 70s, if you were southbound on Skinker but wanted to enter Highway 40 eastbound, you couldn’t just take a left to the long on ramp. There were three vertical signals set on broad black and white striped pedestals lined up on Skinker’s midline, and in order to enter the highway eastbound from southbound Skinker, you had to cross through Clayton, then make a U-turn around the last signal, and enter the highway by making a right turn once you were on northbound Skinker. Confusing present day indeed–but worse decades ago! Somewhere there are photos of this bizarre configuration.