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Landmarks celebrates success, worries about the future

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 15, 2009 - One building, a 1920s municipal power house, had been vacant for so long that weeds became trees growing on the roof. At another -- 101-year-old Forest Park Hall -- the roof was falling in and thieves had carted away terra cotta lion heads and a frieze from the front elevation.

Sound like too much of a historic preservation project to take on? Not for owners of those two buildings, and others, who will receive Most Enhanced Awards this evening from the Landmarks Association of St. Louis. The awards for the best restoration and rehab projects finished last year, along with Landmarks' latest version of its Most Endangered Places list, will be featured at a gathering at the renovated Roberts Orpheum Theatre. It's all part of Preservation Week, celebrated in cities and towns across the country to showcase historic preservation efforts.

Winners, enhanced awards

1. 1416 Hebert St., two historic houses, one dating back to 1880, renovated by James Cox and Luz-Maria Evans.

2. Winston Churchill Apartments, a 1927 apartment building at 5475 Cabanne Ave., renovated by Friedman Development Ltd and Dublin Capital.

3. Irving School, a public school at 3829 North 25th St. dating back to 1871, renovated for housing by Tim Wolf, Tim Person and Ken Nuernberger.

4. Tudor Building, a 1925 commercial building at 1901-1937 Washington Ave., renovated by developer Pete Rothschild, Robert Wood and Dan Holak.

5. Forest Park Hall, built in 1908 as a lodge hall with commercial space at 4512 Manchester Ave., renovated by Sitelines and Renaissance Development.

6. Hotel Indigo, built in 1957 at 4630 Lindell Blvd. as a Bel Air Motel, renovated by Michael and Steve Roberts.

7. 2730 McNair Ave., an 1885 corner commercial building, renovated by Phoenix Development.

8. 1814 Sidney St., an 1884 house and attached storefront, renovated by Rothschild Development.

9. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, built in 1916 at 3010 Locust St., renovated by Renaissance Development.

10. The Power House, built in 1927 at 1100 Clark Ave. to generate steam for nearby municipal buildings, renovated by Cannon Design as its office.

11. Harry Hammerman House, built in 1954 at 219 Graybridge Rd. in Ladue, renovated by Ray Simon.

12. Rawhide Building, constructed in 1904 as two commercial buildings at 4229-4231 Manchester Ave., renovated by Pete Rothschild.

13. Lindenwood School, a public school built in 1928 at 7018 Mardel Ave., renovated by Rothschild Development.

14. G. W. Lofts, built between 1894 and 1907 at 2615 Washington Ave. renovated by McGowan-Walsh.

Landmarks usually hands out 11 Enhanced Awards, which balances the 11 neglected and/or threatened properties on its Endangered list. But this year, after receiving an unusually high number of nominations -- more than 30 -- Landmarks decided to hand out 14 awards. "We had so many great nominations, we felt we had to give out more awards," said Jefferson Mansell, Landmarks' executive director. 

Winners, selected in part to represent variety, range from a couple who renovated historic houses at 1416 Hebert Street to developers who recycled empty historic public school buildings, bedraggled commercial buildings and storefronts throughout the city, even an architect who rescued the threatened Harry Hammerman House in Ladue, a 55-year-old classic example of mid-century modernism being sold as a "tear-down" house.

The Endangered list, based on a national one and done here since 1992, calls attention to preservation battles still ahead. This year, Landmarks compiled its list somewhat differently, in part to focus more on current trouble spots.

It includes, for example, the DeVille Motor Hotel (also known as the San Luis apartments) owned by the archdiocese of St. Louis, the Murphy Building in East St. Louis, and Mann School, another St. Louis public school facing demolition, not recycling. Also listed is the historic James Clemens Jr. House, a rare antebellum mansion owned by developer Paul J. McKee Jr., chairman/CEO of McEagle Properties, and as a separate listing, a group of hundreds of other properties McKee and his companies own in North St. Louis.

Mansell said that listing McKee's North St. Louis properties as a group is unusual, but with reason.

"I think the majority of them are historic, and some are listed (on the National Register of Historic Places) as part of historic districts," he said.