Landmarks Association of St. Louis

Preservation Board Handles Thorny Issues in Central West End, Old North

| by Michael R. Allen, Former Assistant Director

August 1, 2008

At its regular monthly meeting on July 28, 2008, the St. Louis Preservation Board handled two thorny neighborhood issues:

The Board failed to come to consensus on a new condominium building at 4411 McPherson Avenue in the Central West End Historic District.  The owner, Latham Bell, has done a lot of work without permits and contrary to the original plans reviewed and approved by the Preservation Board.  Preservation Board member Anthony Robinson is acting as Bell's architect, and recused himself to present a new compromise plan.  The Cultural Resources Office staff recommended approval, but Alderwoman Lyda Krewson (D-28th) testified against the new plan, stating that Bell should be bound to his original plans.  A motion to approve the new plans by Board member Alderman Terry Kennedy (D-18th) failed by a vote of 2-3; member Mary Johnson joined Kennedy in voting for the motion, and members John Burse, Melanie Fathman and David Richardson voted against the motion.  The matter will return to the Board next month.

On another heated matter, the Board reached a decision.  The board voted 4-1 to uphold staff denial of Haven of Grace's demolition permit for a house located at 2619-21 Hadley Street in the Murphy-Blair Historic District (Old North St. Louis neighborhood).  Last February, after applying to demolish this house and another one at 2605 Hadley Street, Haven of Grace Executive Director Diane Berry presented to the Board a compromise by which the other house would be demolished for new construction and this house would be rehabilitated.  The Board accepted the compromise, and later Haven of Grace decided to press for demolition.  Board President Hal Burroughs, architect Holly Keen, Berry and historian Eric Mumford spoke in favor of demolition.  Sean Thomas, Executive Director of the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, Old North resident Barbara Manzara and Landmarks' Assistant Director Michael Allen (also a neighborhood resident) testified against demolition and for further exploration of rehabilitation options.  The board was swayed by neighborhood sentiment.  David Richardson's motion to uphold staff denial garnered the votes of Burse, Fathman, Robinson and himself, with only Johnson voting against (Kennedy had left the meeting).

The Board unanimously denied an application to retain vinyl windows installed without a permit at 6186 Waterman Avenue in the Skinker-DeBalivere Historic District and voted 3-2 to deny an application to retain vinyl windows at a residence located at 3222 Hawthorne Boulevard in the Compton Hill Historic District.  The Board also approved three nominations to the National Register of Historic Places: the Chuck Berry House at 3137 Whittier Street, the A. Leschen and Sons Wire Rope Company Warehouses at 2725-31 Hamilton Avenue and the More Automobile Company Building at 2801 Locust Street.