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Friday, February 26, 2010

Tiffany Shotguns -- Endangered?

Mark Groth's recent blog post dedicated to the Tiffany neighborhood showcased a classic, if somewhat hidden, urban neighborhood with a surprising diversity of housing options within its small extent.

Part of this varied architectural fabric is the group of small, relatively spare shotguns on the 3600 block of Hickory Street, just west of Grand.

Mark captured a few shots of the shotguns in question:

In the blog post, Mark observed that most of these shotguns are vacant and boarded.

Upon researching ownership, nearly all of the homes on the south side of the block are owned by Tenet Healthcare, the owner of St. Louis University Hospital. A few on the north side are Tenet-owned as well.

With Tiffany's remaining residential context confined further south, this largely residential block stands out. Does the fact that the hospital owns most of these small, but attractive homes mean that they're doomed? More than likely.

Why care? Shotguns are a relatively unique American urban form, appearing en masse in very few cities. Their diminutive frames were often contrary to the nature of urban real estate, where land meant exploitation of profit via high densities. St. Louis is lucky to host several neighborhoods with a good number of them--Forest Park Southeast, the Ville, to name two. In both of those neighborhoods, however, shotguns are quickly disappearing, often too small in size to be marketable.

The loss of the Hickory Street shotguns would be unfortunate given the fact that vacant land--and a lot of it-- exists just to the west on Spring Avenue. This would be a logical expansion point. These fine homes on Hickory should remain as reminders of the importance of a human scale form of building in the midst of large campus environments such as SLU Hospital.

Let's hope we don't see the Hickory shotguns on the Preservation Board agenda any time soon. But let's not hold our breath, either.


Chris said...

They're toast, unfortunately. The woman who cuts my hair used to live over there and SLU is buying up everything,

Michael R. Allen said...

The two buildings at left probably do not have shotgun floor plans. I haven't been inside, so don't know fore sure, but they fit a common local layout pattern where there is a shotgun arrangement of living room and dining room at left and bedrooms opening up to those rooms at right, with the kitchen at the rear.

Matt M. said...

I was being sort of liberal with the term shotgun, I guess.

I was using it to refer to small, single story urban residences--which you truly don't see a lot of so close to the city center in most other cities.

You're right, Michael, that these are probably too wide to have shotgun floor plans. I guess the more appropriate term is shaped parapet early 20th century homes.

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