Landmarks Association of St. Louis

Two Birds with One Stone: The Fate of The Rock Hill Church and Fairfax House

              Fairfax House. Circa 1839.

The City of Rock Hill Board of Aldermen met on the evening of July 5th at the contemporary strip mall on the north side of Manchester Road.  Squeezed in a room that could roughly accommodate twenty people, the general public waited tentatively in orange seats for the meeting to begin.  After the Pledge of Allegiance, roll call and a notification informing the public that city hall would be moving to a new location, the board considered several items for adoption. Among these items, Bill 1807 which would repeal section 610.010 of the municipal code pertaining to a limitation on the number of gas stations in the city.  Adoption of this bill would pave the way for the demolition of the 1845 Rock Hill Presbyterian Church and the third relocation of the 1839 Fairfax House for a gas station and car wash to be developed by U-Gas

Before the discussion and adoption of any bill occurred, the public was allowed to speak regarding any items on the agenda.  Four individuals spoke in opposition of Bill 1807.  Bill Hart of Missouri Preservation, the state wide preservation non-profit, commented that fossil fuels are projected to last another 71 years while the Fairfax House and Rock Hill Presbyterian Church have stood for over 170 years.  Bill Bierman, the attorney for U-Gas, was asked by the board to speak.  Bierman commented that U-Gas was committed to doing best they can with regard to the church and Fairfax House.  During the year long planning process, U-Gas considered designing the gas station around the church and house.  Unable to create a suitable plan, U-Gas sought to move the church.  Due to the amount of money to relocate the church, U-Gas scrapped the idea.  The corporation began asking individuals or organizations to take the church.  An anonymous patron, whom U-Gas, the Mayor of Rock Hill and the Board of Aldermen seem to know little about, offered to take the church.  The patron's unformulated plan consists of reconstructing the building in the spirit of the church.  However, neither U-Gas nor the Board of Aldermen knew what that design would be.  Concerning the house, the Mayor asked Bierman, "Is the Fairfax a done deal?"  Bierman replied, "Yes.  It's already been contracted."  According to the plan, the Fairfax house would remain on the lot but be moved north to the rear of the property.

After the public comments, a vote was taken to adopt Bill 1807.  Voting in favor of the bill; Philip Scherry (1st Ward), Edward Mahan (2nd Ward), Chris Graber (2nd Ward), Mary Wofford (3rd Ward), Robert Weider (3rd Ward).  Voting in opposition of the bill; Edward Johnson (1st Ward).  The ordinance repealing the restriction of the number of gas stations in Rock Hill will allow U-Gas to purchase the site and demolish the church and relocate the Fairfax House.  U-Gas will be presenting their plan for the gas station and car wash tonight at the Rock Hill Planning and Zoning Committee at 9511 Manchester Road tonight at 6:30 PM.  The public is urged to attend!