Maplewood history: Save the historic Sutton Loop Streetcar Pavilion!

The Maplewood City Council apparently with no chance for input from the citizenry has voted to demolish the historic streetcar pavilion in the Sutton Loop. It should be noted that Councilmen Greenberg, Dunn and Faulkingham voted against this measure.

Our pavilion is an example of civic architecture now mostly found in large cities where a significant part of the population either walks or uses public transit. Of course, this isn’t surprising. It is after all a shelter from the sun and rain. And ours was once a shelter from the wind as well as one of the following historic photos suggests.

I am an admirer of the elegance of this fairly simple structure and have long thought it deserves a proper restoration. About a year and a half ago I photographed it hoping to someday help push for a renovation. The photos I took then follow.

It is a relic of the era of the streetcar, I’m fairly certain. If you are familiar with the Circus Maximus in Rome, once a chariot racetrack now a large grassy never-developed oval, our pavilion sits on our circus maximus originally called the Maplewood Loop now known as the Sutton Loop. Our chariots were streetcars then buses. Now our oval is covered with grass and hopefully will never be developed.

How then does our City Council decide to demolish this important historic structure? I don’t have an answer. It has been discovered during the recent work on the Loop that the pavilion lacks a proper foundation. But the estimate to outfit it with one comes in at just a little over 15K. That is certainly worth doing and affordable.

I urge you to get in touch with your mayor and councilpersons excepting the aforementioned gentlemen and urge them to nullify their earlier vote and allow for input from those of us who live in Maplewood, have lived in Maplewood, want to live in Maplewood or just like Maplewood. After hearing our testimonies I can’t imagine that any of them will still want to demolish this graceful part of our history, the historic streetcar pavilion at the Sutton Loop still providing a dry spot or shade for anyone who needs it.

In this photo of the Sutton Loop pavilion it is easy to see how the original architect may have designed the square brick columns to reflect three that are visible on the Cape-Harper building in the background.

In this photo of the Sutton Loop pavilion it is easy to see how the original architect may have designed the square brick columns to reflect three that are visible on the Cape-Harper building in the background.

This photo clearly shows the elegant curve of the roof as it approaches the eave.

This photo clearly shows the elegant curve of the roof as it approaches the eave.

Ditto on the other end. Let's hope the current work in the Loop includes a nice invisible underground perimeter drain for the pavilion so we can lose the tacky aluminum gutter.

Ditto on the other end. Let’s hope the current work in the Loop includes a nice invisible underground perimeter drain for the pavilion so we can lose the tacky aluminum gutter.

These large graceful brackets will look so much better once the aluminum soffit is removed and an original style of soffit most likely made of bead board is installed.

These large graceful brackets will look so much better once the aluminum soffit is removed and an original style of soffit most likely made of bead board is installed.

Now how old is our pavilion? It wasn't there in 1930 when this photo of the old depot was taken. BTW this is a section of the 360 degree panoramic photo kindly donated by Mary Harper Hall and now in the collection of the Maplewood Public Library. I'll post the whole photo soon.

Now how old is our pavilion? It wasn’t there in 1930 when this photo of the old depot was taken. BTW, this is a section of the 360 degree panoramic photo kindly donated by Mary Harper Hall and now in the collection of the Maplewood Public Library. I’ll post the whole photo soon.

Did you realize our Sutton Loop pavilion once had a twin? Here it is in the Yale Loop at Yale and Manchester. That is the Maplewood Theater building directly behind it. the car seen by looking through it is either a 48-9 Chevy or a possibly a Pontiac of the same years. The careful observer will note that there are no streetcar tracks in this photo. So we can't be absolutely certain yet that the shelter is streetcar era. I'm fairly certain the streetcar stopped running in 1949. If anyone can verify that please do. Also note that the shelter doesn't look brand new. Finally note that it has doors. Ours on Sutton probably did too.

Did you realize our Sutton Loop pavilion once had a twin? Here it is in the Yale Loop at Yale and Manchester. That is the Maplewood Theater building directly behind it. The car seen by looking through it is either a 48-9 Chevy or a possibly a Pontiac of the same years. The careful observer will note that there are no streetcar tracks in this photo. So we can’t be absolutely certain yet that the shelter is streetcar era. I’m fairly certain the streetcar stopped running in 1949. If anyone can verify that please do. Also note that the shelter doesn’t look brand new. Finally note that it has doors. Ours on Sutton probably did too.

This photo and the one prior were both found on a Facebook page called Vintage St. Louis. Notice that the streetcar tracks are being paved over but they still exist and turn into the Yale Loop in the middle of the photo where the twin to our Sutton pavilion can be seen. This is probably as close as we can get to proving that the pavilions were of the streetcar era but that really doesn't matter, does it? We had two now we've only got one. Let's keep it.

This photo and the one prior were both found on a Facebook page called Vintage St. Louis. Notice that the streetcar tracks are being paved over but they still exist and turn into the Yale Loop in the middle of the photo where the twin to our Sutton pavilion can be seen. This is probably as close as we can get to proving that the pavilions were of the streetcar era but that really doesn’t matter, does it? We had two now we’ve only got one. Let’s keep it.

29 thoughts on “Maplewood history: Save the historic Sutton Loop Streetcar Pavilion!

  1. My wife and I just moved to Maplewood, over on Walter. One of the first things we noticed as we were out walking was the shelter and small green space. I had a suspicion that this was the “streetcar turnaround” that I kept hearing about, and now it’s confirmed! This is a great space that is hopefully used for events…Movies in the park, art shows, etc. The shelter only adds to the charm! Just last night, a Thursday evening, we saw a family sitting in the shelter and another family eating at the picnic table. My wife really loves the “rock fountain” too. The shelter looks in good shape to me, but if there is a need to save it, maybe a fundraiser could be organized. It shouldn’t be too hard to raise most or all of $15,000 for this.

    • Travis, thank you very much for your comments and ideas. Since this article was posted the Maplewood City Council and staff went to work and came up with the funds to stabilize the foundation of this structure. They saved it! As you mentioned it is a charming part of the new park update as is the new bubbling rock. At sometime in the future I’m certain the funds will be found to complete the restoration of the historic shelter. I walk by after dark and it is nearly always occupied in this warm weather. thanks again for your input. We welcome you and your wife to the community.

  2. I made this comment above about the Yale Loop picture: “On the other side of the street at 7168-7172 Manchester (with the white sign running across the top in the picture) was my parents’ Zimmerman’s Department Store. I took the bus to that loop many times to hang out or work at the store in the 1950s. In the late 30’s my parents Jack and Ida Zimmerman lived on Yale about 4 blocks away from their store.”
    If anyone has memories of shopping at Zimmerman’s, I’d appreciate hearing them….thanks in advance!

  3. We have lived on Hazel for 13 years now and have been part of a number of efforts to support preserving the historic integrity of Maplewood. But I have to say, I’m just not feeling it on this one. This pavilion is probably half the age of the houses and structures around it. It smacks far too much of industrial than turn of the century. And I would much rather use the money on other park beautification. Finally, I’d like to ask all the ardent and adamant supporters of preserving this structure, How many times have you spent even 15 minutes sitting in this pavilion. In all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen some one so much as have a birthday party there.

    Doug, thanks for all you do for Maplewood. We love you. But I’m not with you this time.

    • I disagree with this comment. We walk our dogs constantly up and down Sutton and we have seen multiple parties there as well as neighbors enjoying the structure to help shade themselves and their furry companions. I am so grateful they rethought their idea to tear it down. It is part of Maplewood’s history.

      • I predict once the shelter is incorporated into the new park design, hopefully with some sort of seating oriented towards the green space, we will see it being used much more than in the past. I appreciate all of the comments.

  4. Thanks, Doug, for all you do to preserve my hometown. I hope the people of Maplewood use their good sense and keep this old building. By the way, I spent much of my childhood at the Yale Loop about the time these two pictures were taken, and I believe I remember that the “doors” on the building were phone booths.

    • I was going to say that, too, Chuck! They look like phone booth doors. You and I certainly remember that Loop — one of the more memorable times of Kennedy Music Store and School.

      • Phone booths. Of course. Thanks so much for this info. In this age of uninterrupted connectedness, we’re rapidly forgetting how important phone booths once were and especially banks and multiples of phone booths. Because many folks needed to make calls at the same time and extremely unlike the climate today, phone conversations were regarded as private affairs. Chuck and Wanda, thanks for pointing this out.

  5. These are interesting old buildings, that add variety to Maplewood’s streetscape.

    They were built in around the late teens of the 20th century when the streetcar system was tidying up and landscaping its properties, including its streetcar turning loops and transfer points, and at the same time beginning the fight against the private automobile to keep people riding the streetcars. There were others around town but I don’t know how many survived.

    Many pictures of streetcars in St. Louis, Maplewood and other local suburbs are in my book “Streets and streetcars of St. Louis: a sentimental journey”, plus a few more in my book “When Missouri Took the Trolley.” The books can be found at the St. Louis Museum of Transport’s gift shop, in the County Library headquarters branch at Lindbergh and Clayton or you can contact me at this E-mail address.

    A. D. Young

  6. I agree. I was frustrated that they knocked down the two big trees that were there as well. Please preserve the shelter! Is there somewhere that an agenda is posted of items for discussion at council meetings?

    • On the Maplewood city website (http://www.cityofmaplewood.com/index.aspx?nid=110), usually the Friday before the meeting. Both agendas/background detail and meeting minutes for past meetings. Citizens can sign up for an e-mail alert when agendas are posted. Meetings are held second and fourth Tuesday September-May, with a single meeting during the summer months.

      But in this case it wouldn’t have done any good, since this was added to the agenda at the last minute.

      Q!

  7. I don’t want any hard feelings directed towards the Maplewood City Council. All of them are my friends and neighbors who devote much of their time to the often thankless task of trying to make this community a better place to live. Remember 3/7 of the council voted to repair the streetcar shelter. The others are most likely just trying to save us all some of our tax money. I’m hopeful when they realize that quite a number of us favor the repair of the shelter, they’ll change course and decide to fix it. If there is no sign of that happening before the next council meeting on May 27th at 7:30, I plan to attend with the well known area historian and preservationist, Mr. Esley Hamilton. Hopefully many of you will show up as well. We’ll make a personal appeal. Remember there is nothing sinister here just a difference of opinions among friends on this particular issue.

    • in the councilperson’s defense, I believe the problem with the pavilion came up unexpectedly, and they were trying to make a decision so the project would not be held up for long. I think they had the city’s best interest in mind trying to save the money, however many perspectives have been put forth that they had not had the time to consider. Perhaps if people let them know how they feel about it, things can change. I don’t think they voted to demolish it per se, but they voted not to spend the money to save it. Those are two different things, there may still be time to save it, and if people rally round, they may have a change of heart here. It is not too late, contact them and let them know how you feel. But do it right away!

      • As I understand things now, Cathy’s version is exactly right. The demotion of the structure would have been the result of the vote against spending the money to repair the footings beneath the columns. She is also exactly right about the urgency of the response.

  8. Doug, once again I completely agree with you and the shelter should be saved. I very angry over politicians not seeking input from the citizens they are supposed to serve. It seems they think they are nobility and can dictate their will to us serfs. Perhaps we should call for a special meeting before them to state our objections. Please feel free to pass along my comment to these short sighted people.

  9. Thank you to the three councilmen that show they have the respect for Maplewood that I think most of us want to preserve. We need to keep the history that Maplewood so richly deserves. With all the improvements in the city, we are losing the quaint atmosphere that makes Maplewood the rich, historic community that most of us love. In my eyes, I do not want a “other cities type form of tear it down make it new” atmosphere. Respect the old that makes our city so rich and inviting. Thank you Doug Houser for your commitment to our preservation.

  10. Thanks for speaking out in favor of preserving this structure. Every piece of our heritage is worth our attention, no matter the size or cost. The council have been hasty in the past (remember the threat of eminent domain 10 years ago), but with enough input, this decision can be reversed.

  11. Are you kidding me??? This is part of Maplewood’s character. You’re spending all this money for the green space next to it & then want to demolish the historical bus stop??? You’re taking away the character in Maplewood that attracts people to it…a place in time not to be forgotten. Shame, shame, shame on Maplewood’s council if they take this down instead of rebuilding. I love Maplewood because it is different, not the same street corner found elsewhere. I love to stroll the streets & discover something new that is old. You just don’t see that character on new buildings, it’s unaffordable these days to replicate. I’m going to be voting a lot of people OUT if this happens. That just sickens me to hear that. I’ve lived in Maplewood for over 60 years & don’t want to see it destroyed of it’s historical landmarks that I’ve enjoyed all these years as a little girl & now an old lady. Discover & keep the history that Maplewood has. Once it’s gone, it’s gone……..sad, really disappointed & sadden. Sutton street is FULL of historical buildings….keep this one as well. DO NOT DEMOLISH THIS STRUCTURE! When it’s fiscally possible-restore it, it’s not falling down like the Maplewood council apparently is…..

  12. The last picture, above, sure is trip back I time. In the right foreground, The 905 Liquor Store. Beyond that is Brodys.. Then Loop Drug. And across The street under the Falstaff sign must be the Limits Bar. And the cars that had some character – not the Jelly Bean shape of todays. And with steel bumpers!

    • Yeah! Cars with inner tubes, grease fittings and real chrome! No doubt many memorable evenings were spent at the City Limits bar. Or maybe I should say many difficult to remember evenings were spent there. I always appreciate your comments,Tom. You’re a poet.

    • On the other side of the street at 7168-7172 Manchester (with the white sign running across the top in the picture) was my parents’ Zimmerman’s Department Store. I took the bus to that loop many times to hang out or work at the store in the 1950s. In the late 30’s my parents Jack and Ida Zimmerman lived on Yale about 4 blocks away from their store.

  13. Maplewood is one of the St. Louis ‘burbs that still has a unique and historic character. Please don’t remove even more of the heritage of this remarkable neighborhood! Surely, our our civic leaders can be more caring and creative than that.

  14. Thanks Doug.

    Keep the shelter for the short term — restore it thoroughly when fiscally possible in the long term. *Don’t* demolish it.