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?
As mentioned above, Savings of America (the outside-California name of Home Savings and Loan) built this building during a period of merger and expansions in the 1980s. It was building on a template set by artist Millard Sheets and financier Howard Ahmanson in 1956.
I am completing a book this year about this art and architecture; until then check out http://adamarenson.com/homesavingsbankart
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Forgive the typos. “originally” and “commissioned”.
My husband, Richard H. Ellis is the sculptor of the above mentioned pieces. The building wasriginally a Home Savings Building and the sculptures were ommissioned by the Ahmanson Foundation. Richard & I are now living and working in Montana.
I was intrigued by the two sculptures outside this bank while exploring on foot around Hampton Plaza yesterday (was just a kid when the family left St. Louis, but have fond memories of the old pony track that used to be there …), so I went in to ask about them. The banker with whom I spoke said she didn’t have any information about them or about the artist, just that they had come with the building, which Lindell Bank bought from the original occupant, California-based Home Savings of America. Looking for information about the sculptures brought me to your website – thank you so much for your post! The two pieces – the woman and girl with swans in your photo, and on the other side of the (locked) Hampton entrance, a man and boy with a fawn – provide a really unexpected evocation of peaceful harmony with nature at that busy intersection.
I recall the old bowling alley up there, Stein Brothers – man we had a lot of fun up there! I grew up on Murdoch, not too far from there!
wiki search reveals……………
H.F. Ahmanson & Co. was a California holding company named after millionaire Howard F. Ahmanson, Sr. It is best known as the parent of Home Savings of America, formerly one of the largest savings and loan associations in the United States
I am pretty confident it was originally built by a savings and loan outfit out of California which may have lent to it a more exotic look. I only recall this because my first mortgage was with them. That was 1987 so the mentioned date sounds right.
If I remember right the S&L was called H F Amoundson or something to that effect.
Doug Duckworth asked above about State Bank in Wellston. Having spent much of the earliest days of my youth in that building* at 6313 Easton (EVergreen 2-1111), I was quite pleasantly surprised to see Toby post a blog entry about the structure in an earlier version of beltstl.com–possibly within the past year or two. I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be easily retrievable, and I left a lengthy comment about “Banking in the Sky,” circa mid-50s at that time.
*My dad managed the loan department
The only photos (nondigital) I have are from the 2001-2002 period and when Target was knocked down a few years later. I took pics of my apt. bldg, the Morgenthal bldg, and the colonial complex on Chippewa coming down and a few when Walgreens was going up. I’m usually a very organized person. Currently, I’m looking for a house so I have many things boxed up and scattered. I’m out of my element!
I will definitely remember and share when things ease up.
If you go to a popular search engine, type in “White Castle building” and click on images you’ll see pics of what the Castle looked like. Where the transom windows are located, there was marble-ized carmel colored stain glass with milk glass Gothic-style type saying White Castle. The photo I saw (out-of-state location) was the reverse image of our Castle whose entrance was on the Chippewa-side corner.
When Lindell Bank went up, my first thought at the time was that it looked like it shot to the future from the New York 1939-40 Worlds Fair. I’ve always liked the scupltures which reminded me of the sculptures that were on the grounds of that fair. With that in mind, I thought then that possibly the designers were trying to play on the deco element that is more prevalent in that part of the city (thought there is also a lot of Tudor-styling).
That aeriel photo site is addictive for this first-timer! I’ve been studying the Hampton/Gravois intersection and can babble a lot about the changes there too but I’ll hush now.
Correction: When I commented a few weeks ago about the BelAir Hilton…I meant it was on Lindell, not Euclid. I’ll have to take a photo of the ashtray my mom permanently borrowed.
Thank you for all the details, George. A lot of us have been trying to piece together the timeline of events at that intersection. If you’ve got pictures of anything that was once there (like the beloved, late White Castle?) please do share them with me. And Happy New Year o you, too!
George again (who grew up across the street from the Buder Library.) Haven’t looked at your site for a few weeks. Darren beat me to the punch. The White Castle on the SW corner, I read years ago, was built in 1937 and the first one in St. Louis (?). It was very small, only standing-room capacity. Stein Bros. Bowling was definitely still in business in the late 70s/early 80s. I remember playing arcade games there 78-80 and bowling in the early 80s. The building stood on the site until the bank was developed. I do remember FYE as National Supermarket but in my world it will always be Peaches with the huge airbrushed album covers outside that hung on the building. They would change periodically. I still have my cassette crate from 1979 and a mint condition t-shirt.
A.T., I very much remember the handprints. I never heard that story. I assumed they were in a landfill. I’ve always wondered what happened to all those huge album covers.
The strip of stores across from FYE had Brooklyn Bridge Pizza circa 80-81, which was voted by local mags/papers as the best pizza in St. Louis at the time. The building on the NE corner is a Goodyear (later Dobbs) auto & tire garage circa 58. The building just north of that was a Morgenthal (sp?) Cleaners for many years. It was built in the 40s and also originally was an auto gargage. I could see where all the auto bays were walled-up over the years.
In the mid-80s that entire intersection was changing. The bank was built. Castle was knocked down. Hampton Village had their 40th Anniv. in 1987 and received a minor facelift along with the new Schnucks bldg. One of the storefronts had neighborhood photos and aerialviews from previous decades. The Morgenthal and Brooklyn Bridge strips were renovated and moderne-ized with a cool paint job and pink and aqua-green neon outside to accentuate the streamline features of the Morgenthal complex. The deco-like billboard on the roof was painted over with pink flamingo silhouettes and a list of tenants. The background paint was a buff color. Lindell Bank was much more in context at that intersection with what was going on at the time across the street. The pink and green on the bank very much tied in with the neon color scheme across the street.
In late 2001/early 2002 the Goodyear garage, the Morgenthal building, the colonial-styled shops circa 1946-50 along Chippewa (ie: Catholic Supply) and the art-deco apt. building where I lived right behind Morgenthal and Catholic Supply were knocked down for a Walgreens and a new Dobbs. I had to deal with runaway landlords and a useless politician who I stopped in his tracks in City Hall coming out of a meeting. He never called me after asking for my number and me making several calls to his office to find out how to get my deposit back. (I finally got it back through no help of his. His name slips my mind. Sonderman, perhaps…)
I could go on and on since that was my neck of the woods. I like seeing those old aerial shots.
Happy New Year, Toby!
I have no problem with the Post Modern design, and have always thought that the variations in color and the fact that it is all travertine give it a richness that many buildings lack. The large expanses of windowless blank wall leave something to be desired though and give it somewhat of a fortress like appearance.
There used to be a walk-up window on the Chippewa Avenue elevation. The canopy is still intact, and the former opening evident with the patch.
The Lindell Bank is purely Post-Modern, down to the classical sculptures. I have to admit that the band of green marble really dates the design.
This also brings to mind, the promise from Peaches when they sold the store to re-install somewhere all the famous handprints outside on the sidewalk….does anyone remember those?? I think the Rolling Stones were out there, maybe Clapton, etc.
It’s a disgusting design, really, and reminds me of the building materials in St. Louis Centre or Union Station.
What happened to the State Bank in Wellson?
The FYE needs a severe reduction in parking. It’s never near capacity. But hey given we demolished Hardee’s for yet another suburban POS don’t expect much change on Hampton Avenue.
Not WAY off…just across the street! White Castle was on the SW corner, on the Target parking lot. It was demolished and replaced with a small Fox Photo shop, also since demolished.
There was a bowling alley called Stein Bros. at 3911 Hampton from c. 1941 until at least the ’60s, and FYE (Formerly Peaches; built as a National Supermarket) is 3801. Makes a strong case for the mystery building in the aerial photo being the bowling alley…
I would have thought mid 1970s based on the design. But 1986? I guess it was St. Louis’ version of post-modern. Doesn’t the same design exist somewhere else in the region? Off Clayton & McCausland?
Sorry for forgetting my St. Louis streets (as I haven ‘t lived there in almost 18 years) but is that the corner that used to house one of the really old beautiful original White Castles? the ones with the lovely 40’s-style metal castle detailing?
Or am I way off here?