In the last three posts we’ve taken a look at a lot of the beautiful stonework we are lucky to have in our community. What could possibly be left? I’d bet many of you already know what’s coming. I’ve saved the best for last (or nearly last anyway).
My vote for the very best stonework in the City of Maplewood, Missouri is the stonework you will find in our 1938 WPA built, Art Deco masterpiece, the Maplewood Municipal Pool Building and its complementary stone accoutrements. It is a jewel in its setting.
Don’t get me wrong. Much of the stonework we’ve already viewed is done just as well. But the pool building with its curvaceous stairways on either end, stone bollards (I haven’t any idea if that’s the right term) and very long stone wall separating it from the high school is the complete package. It is an absolute essential element of what makes Maplewood unique.
When you look at the photos I think you’ll agree with what you’ve just read. It is a site so special that we never have to worry about it. Especially since it has now been splendidly adapted for use as our public library. Agree?
If you are new to Maplewood you might be shocked to learn that the site and the building were both targeted for alteration not too many years ago. In 1999, I think it was, the planning to replace the aged and leaky original pool with our present day family aquatic center began. Nothing to worry about there. Right? It should be a no-brainer to preserve and protect all of the beautiful elements of this most precious site to generations of Maplewoodians.
It should be but it wasn’t. An early plan for the new aquatic center had a service road taking out the magnificent staircase on the eastern side! It was explained to me by an influential person involved in the project that the building was worth preserving but the staircases…not so much. Fortunately that plan was eliminated early. Threat over. Right?
Not even. Just a short time later, folks at the high school came up with a plan of their own that would have altered the site dramatically. The idea was to split the pool building with the city. The high school would have their library on the lower level and the community would have theirs on the upper. That was not a good idea for several reasons. Those two types of libraries don’t blend. And just the upper level would have been too small for the community as we can easily see now.
But worst of all, the high school plan would have obliterated the eastern staircase, the very long stone wall and blown out the eastern end of the pool building to support a new addition for the high school. Will bringing this up open old wounds? Probably. But I think it’s necessary.
We have these very beautiful architectural elements that contribute so much to the enjoyment of living where we do. Keep an eye on them. If you don’t they may someday be destroyed by people who have never even taken a close look at them.