Search This Blog (A.K.A. "I Dote On...")

Monday, December 22, 2008

A spate of National Register listings is a good thing for St. Louis

A map of St. Louis historic districts, minus recent additions (mentioned below).

The Landmarks Association of St. Louis and a couple private citizens have been working hard as of late to list more of St. Louis's historic vernacular architecture on the federal registry of historic buildings and districts: the National Register of Historic Places.

The National Register is important in St. Louis because, although it does not protect a building from demolition, it does open structures up to the state of Missouri's generous 25 percent investment tax credit.

In October of 2008, the Preservation Board considered the addition of a portion of the Marine Villa neighborhood to the National Register. Marine Villa is a wonderful reflection of St. Louis architecture, with its stock dating from the 1870s in early examples all the way up to the modern period (1960s). Red brick, Creole structures meet little modern bungalows in an odd but (in my opinion) somewhat cohesive building mix. While Marine Villa is in dire need of some tree planting, streetscape improvements, and better connections to the riverfront given its riparian nomenclature, a National Register district within the neighborhood might spur historic rehabs--the first step to an improved neighborhood.

Earlier in the year, the Preservation Board looked at the St. Cecilia Historic District (S. Grand (W), Delor (N), Virginia(E), Bates (S)). It includes 30 city blocks in south St. Louis. St. Cecelia is an excellent representative of St. Louis's early 20th Century late streetcar suburbs.

On this month's Preservation Board agenda, not one, but two districts are proposed. First, the "Liggett and Meyers Historic District", which is the portion of McRee Town that has not been demolished (west of Thurman, south of Park, east of Vandeventer, and north of Lafayette). Ecology of Absence has already discussed this addition (see "Folsom Avenue Blues"), which is the effort of the Garden District Commission, which had the other half of the neighborhood obliterated.

The other district is even larger--the Grand-Bates Historic Suburb District. Click the link to see the exact boundaries. A rough summation is that this district will take in several blocks to the southeast of Grand and Bates, partially from Grand to I-55. This district includes the impressive, tree-lined boulevard of Bellerive.

It was not long ago (2005) that the Gravois-Jefferson Historic Streetcar Suburb District was added to the National Register. Consuming nearly all of the Benton Park West neighborhood, much of Gravois Park, and parts of Dutchtown South, the district is St. Louis's largest in size and in number of contributing buildings. It is important because, with all of these recent additions to the Register, most of pre-1920 south St. Louis can now boast of historic district status--which raises property values and offers rehabilitation incentives all at once.

It's more than a shame that the original city of St. Louis has been mowed over multiple times: that old, compact Creole section hugging the river; the later manufacturing district that gave way to the Arch. It's also a shame that some of the earliest "suburban" outgrowths are also gone--Kosciusko, Mill Creek Valley, DeSoto-Carr, southern Old North St. Louis; most of LaSalle Park and Bohemian Hill; all the neighborhoods ringing downtown.

Even so, it's heartening to see that scrubby Dutch south St. Louis is recognized as historic. Fifty years from now, bungalows once taken for granted will appear all the more historic resources. A National Register listing for such properties certainly won't do any harm.

This is good news to break up the usual dour news as of late.


Fashion STL Style!

Fashion STL Style!
St. Louis Gives You the Shirt Off of Its Own Back!

Next American City

Next American City
Your Go-To Source for Urban Affairs

Join the StreetsBlog Network!

Join the StreetsBlog Network!
Your Source for Livable Streets

Trust in Rust!

Trust in Rust!
News from the Rustbelt

Dotage St. Louis -- Blogging the St. Louis Built Environment Since 2008

Topics: Historic Preservation, Politics and Government, Development, Architecture, Urban Planning, Urban Design, Local Business, Crime and Safety, Neighborhoods, and Anything Else Relating to Making St. Louis a Better City!