Posted on July 27th, 2010 6 comments
South St. Louis, MO
There’s construction activity at the St. Louis Hills Office Center, that magnificent multi-story mid-century modern building at the merge of Watson and Chippewa in St. Louis Hills.
I am sooo happy to have been dead wrong about the fate of this building when I first began reporting on it in June 2007. Catch up on the story and see pictures of how it once looked and demolition here.
After the demolition of the parking garage ell of the building was completed in early 2008, this building sat ignored and forlorn. But considering all the controversy between the St. Louis Hills Neighborhood Association and the owner, it was feeling like no news was bad news. So when construction work began anew by ripping things off the building, I assumed the fat lady was powdering her nose in the green room in preparation for heading to the stage to begin singing.
But by taking a moment to inspect the building permits posted inside the front entrance, it was a moment of pure joy to read that roughly $1.5 million is being spent to build an “addition to existing bldg & Ext. & Int per plans.” So all the brick down in the pit (above) is to clear openings to the new addition.
Will the addition follow the footprint of the original wing? And will the medical emblem above the side door be returned once construction is done? Oh, I want to see the drawings! Oh, I’m so happy that there’s new life ahead for this gorgeous building. It’s such an important intersection in South St. Louis, and the entire complex of buildings that strings off of the Office Center is such a fine example of mid-century development of this prestigious neighborhood. This new work would not be taking place without consent of the alderwoman, so I’m appreciative of the seeming miracles she pulled off to make this finally happen.
In fact, the entire complex of buildings has gotten a facelift. The one-story building next door (to the right, above) recently got new windows and a new face. The material of the new cladding is not appropriate, but they tried to make it look appropriate, so there is some design-awareness being applied. But I hate quibbling about such a minor thing when the major news is that this entire complex is coming back to life. It’s entirely possible that in 2011, this block will once again be bustling like it did back in the day. Congratulations to our City for another happy ending!
Posted on May 22nd, 2010 3 comments
The original bank sign buried under the Gospel Church sign has broke free and come up for air! Click the photo to enlarge it and check out the hand-lettered cursive.
And the building is now for sale. Did an interested buyer want to see what’s under there, or did Mother Nature’s recent fireworks send the panel airborne?
Either way, it’s nice to see the old Public Service Savings & Loan Association sign. Welcome back!
Posted on December 22nd, 2009 17 comments
Hampton Avenue & Chippewa
South St. Louis, MO
If you had to guess what year this building is from, what would you say?
You could look up the history of Lindell Bank, or know a little about the South St. Louis neighborhood it’s part of to make a guess.
Folks are very familiar with this building because it’s on such a prominent, busy intersection. I’ve heard people refer to it as “the statue bank,” or “the art bank,” because of the two sculptures flanking the Hampton Avenue entrance. You could peek at the base of these pieces by Richard H. Ellis to get an important clue as to how old this building is, since the building doesn’t have a corner stone telling you its age.
I’ve polled a whole lot of people about how old they think this building is, and everyone – including myself – places the design and construction somewhere in the early 1960s. The details are what make this a solid guess. 5 different kinds of travertine creating visual language over a simple rectangle punctuated by mirror-images of entry cubes. Above, note how the 2 bands of pink travertine – which is also used on the entry cubes – follow the bump-out of the drive up window, a subtle little detail not at all unusual on mid-century modern buildings of this vintage. The scale, massing and materials of this building clearly make it a product of an architectural era long gone.
Except that this building went up in 1986.
Here’s proof from a 1971 aerial map, which shows what some people remember to be an auto parts store that sat back on the property. A 1958 aerial shot shows an even smaller building sitting diagonal even further back on the same property. I’ve yet to run into anyone that knows what that older building was.
That means that the neighborhood had to wait until 1986 to get a building that moved up to the sidewalks and owned that corner in a formal way. Previously, that important corner was a parking lot. Along with Lindell Bank, who are the people responsible for such a thoughtful and handsome building so late in the post-modern architectural malaise?
If you have any information about the buildings previously on this site, and the design and construction of this Lindell Bank location, please do share with the rest of us, OK?