While walking through Lafayette Square over Thanksgiving weekend, I happened upon this site, at 1724 Preston Place. Click here for a Bing Maps aerial view.
Per the aerial view on Bing, this looked to be a large two-family structure. Being located in the Lafayette Square Local Historic District (and very likely a contributing resource to the National Register District), I am surprised to see it in ruins. The neighborhood group, Lafayette Square Restoration Group, is usually strongly opposed to any demolition of historic and contributing structures. Furthermore, the matter never appeared before the Preservation Board to my memory.
Researching on Geo St. Louis, I find that it was issued an "emergency" demolition permit in July of this year. (An emergency permit would have automatically bypassed the Preservation Board's review). The photo above, showing the collapse or demolition, is from late November. Yet the emergency permit was canceled on December 2, 2009 and swapped for a regular demolition permit. Curiously, the original permit noted demolition of a "2-story, 2-family brick" structure while the new one says "2-story, 1-family brick". Could this have been a demolition of a rear structure, too, or is it just a typo?
Either way, the loss of this building is rather unfortunate. The host block was already halved by the construction of the bloated I-44/I-55 interchange. Now, the shortened block has a noticeably large hole in it. To be more optimistic I'd say the site is probably bound for some historicist new construction given the speed with which vacant lots in the neighborhood have been disappearing.
Still, if this is another case of the "emergency" demolition permit striking, it's clear that these requests should at least be reviewed by Cultural Resources Staff and should definitely be examined by a structural engineer except in the most egregious of cases, such as outright collapses. Even then, the remaining intact materials should be set aside for salvage by the ordinance.
Everyone's A Critic
10 hours ago