Hidden Mid-Century Modern

Bingham Avenue & Newport
South St. Louis, MO

Right next door to the South Side City Block For Sale, and practically in the shadow of the former candy company (background left in the picture above) is the home of Lyon Sheet Metal Works.

The company dates back to 1922, while their “new” building went up in 1950. The building itself is a basic brick factory, but the the glass block windows with stainless steel sills and that entrance are top of the line style for a company buried back in a part of town where few tread …today. But back in the day, with the candy/paper factory open and Western Bowl down the street, it was probably a rather hoppin’ intersection, but still off the beaten path.

Looking through the peeling grey paint, the metal panels that make up the mod, “L”-shaped facade appear to have originally been beige. In this case, I like the light grey better, as it poetically evokes what the company does, along with the stainless steel letters.

This is a strange and personal aside about Lyons:
I always get a pleasant little flutter in my tummy when I walk by this building, and always hear this line from the Pixies’ song “Subbacultcha”:  “She shakes and she moves me or something/she’s like jelly roll/ like sculpture!”

Head half a block down Newport to Meramec and you’ll find this little mid-century modern gem tucked into the line of dingy brick homes.  Built in 1956, it’s 1,362 square feet, slab on grade.  It’s taken a large amount of abuse, but I still see its glamor dying to shine again.

There is no other house even remotely like this within a mile radius. All the homes around it are 1910-1940s tiny brick bungalows. Circumstantial evidence would point to this being a mid-century in-fill. And because it’s such an oddity in this area, it boils my imagination….

…the original brick home burnt down, and the owners – who vacationed in Los Angeles every year and loved modern art – decided to turn that insurance money into their own slice of Southern California. They hooked up with a 3rd year architecture student at Wash U. for the drawings, but the construction foreman was not impressed: “No basement? In St. Louis? You’re nuts!”

Yeah, like I said, the imagination tends to runaway…