Maplewood History: The Ghosts That Haunt 2541 Big Bend

One part of this job that I haven’t been very good at is creating headlines that will attract attention. Could be just the subjects but Miner’s articles are always clicked on more than mine. I’m thinking his headlines may have something to do with it.

For instance would you be attracted to an article titled, “Changes Throughout the Years at 2541 Big Bend”?  I don’t think so.  It’s boring!  Or how about, “EIFS and Historic Buildings. Like Oil and Water?” Even worse, right?  And besides what the hell is EIFS?

Well since you asked, EIFS (pronounced eefus) is the acronym for Exterior Insulation and Finishing System.  There are many different manufacturers of EIFSs in many different countries.  It is all around us.  On a recently built structure, EIFS and glass may be all that you see.  Sometimes EIFS is used with what appears to be brick or stone but you’d be wise to be suspicious of them as well.  Brick and stone look-a-like systems exist too. There are close to zero actual brick or stone buildings being built these days in this country.  That’s an even better reason to preserve the ones we still have.

EIFS sort of looks like stucco.  It is thought of as synthetic stucco but it’s not.  Google it if you want to know the details. What’s wrong with it? Not much. It insulates, it’s waterproof and won’t rot.  Perhaps UV will break it down over time.  It breaks down everything else including us but I don’t know for sure. This, of course, means it probably won’t break down in landfills either. If the ancient Egyptians had had EIFS we’d probably still be digging it up.  Pity the archaeologists a thousand years from now.

Why even bring EIFS up in a space reserved for Maplewood history?  Because architects keep putting it on historic buildings.  I’m not saying it should never be used on an historic structure but its use should be limited.  In my opinion, it can be useful to replace some building parts where the original was once made of wood or stone and they are high enough off the ground to not be obvious.  Covering brick, stone or wood buildings with EIFS should be avoided.  Of course there are exceptions but there are so many bad examples around, you don’t have to look too hard to find them.

So what does all of this have to do with ghosts?  You’ll have to look at the photos to find out.

Our Shop'N'Save building is a palace of EIFS. Everything you see there is EIFS or moldings made to be used with EIFS. this is what EIFS should be used for.

Our Shop’N’Save building is a palace of EIFS. Everything you see there is EIFS or moldings made to be used with EIFS. This is what EIFS should be used for.  Even the Shop’N’Save letters are made of foam.

Here are just a very small sample of some of the moldings available. Called "stucco" they're not. they are made of an architectural grade of foam with a waterproof and UV resistant coating. They are very light and can easily be cut with a hand saw or a knife.

Here are just a very small sample of some of the moldings available. Called “stucco” they’re not. They are made of an architectural grade of foam with a waterproof and UV resistant coating. They are very light and can easily be cut with a hand saw or a knife.

This interesting photo is from the Wikipedia entry on EIFS. If you like the right side the best, get yourself a new house and don't screw up a beautiful old one. Notice too the window size is reduced on the right side. I don't like that what with the availability of high quality windows (especially in Germany) and the importance of natural light in a "green" building.

This interesting photo is from the Wikipedia entry on EIFS. If you like the right side the best, get yourself a new house and don’t screw up a beautiful old one. Notice too the window size is reduced on the right side. I don’t like that what with the availability of high quality windows (especially in Germany) and the importance of natural light in a “green” building.

Which brings us to 2541 Big Bend. Notice any parallels on this wood frame Victorian to the German house? The first time I really paid attention to this remodel was when I noticed the fenestration changes mainly the first floor picture window. So inappropriate in my mind that I called Brian Herr at our city hall and asked if this had passed Design Review. It had.

Which brings us to 2541 Big Bend. Notice any parallels on this wood frame Victorian to the German house? The first time I really paid attention to this remodel was when I noticed the fenestration changes mainly the first floor picture window. So inappropriate in my mind that I called Brian Herr at our city hall and asked if this had passed Design Review. It had.  I should point out that I have no idea who the architect on this project is.  I would welcome his/her/their comments below.

2541 Big Bend in 2014. Aren't the windows a nice size? Photograph by Yours Truly.

2541 Big Bend in 2014. Aren’t the windows a nice size? Photograph by Yours Truly.

So where are the ghosts? There they are on the front porch. They weren't ghosts when this photograph was taken but you folks that will be inhabiting they're home take a good look at them. they may come back trying to figure out just what is going on. Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

So where are the ghosts? There they are on the front porch. They weren’t ghosts when this photograph was taken but you folks that will be inhabiting their home, take a good look at them. They may be back trying to figure out just what is going on. Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

13 thoughts on “Maplewood History: The Ghosts That Haunt 2541 Big Bend

  1. Doug, you are right. At least they are still there. Too many strip malls in this country. Now it is hard to tell what town you are in since they have lost their local flavor, tearing down old building and putting up god awful strip malls. I hate the way Hanley looks now. However, it never was really all that great to be honest.
    At least we still have some good buildings on Manchester, although there are some which have been remuddled.

  2. Doug, love your headlines, and your story and stories. This is a great ghost story! laugh laugh laugh. and I don’t think I’ve seen you use the word hell before…I appreciate the timeliness of its use.

    • Desperate times call for desperate words, Patty. Good thing you weren’t around Wednesday. I always appreciate your enthusiasm and thoughts.

      • I’ve always believed in reading between the lines, not only the lines which are put before us. This is one of the finest sources of information on a local basis that I have seen. Thank you. …and as said here, the house is still standing. Hallelujah!

        • Patty, Doug Miner and I thank you for the compliment. The houses (there are two that got this treatment but I didn’t have an old photo of the other one) are still there. That’s better than a chicken place. Thanks again for your input.

    • Hopefully not tragic, DLP. Nobody got killed. Just a couple of poor design decisions that could be corrected someday. I hope the nice folks who volunteer their time on the Design Review board don’t take this criticism too hard. How else can we know what we expect for our community without discussion?

    • I hope they don’t get torn down, Gary Lee. Someone out there must like the way they look. I’d like to hear their thoughts.

    • Margaret, at least the buildings are still there. Where they’re located they were at great risk to be torn down. Now they will be around for awhile longer. That’s a good thing. Someone in the future will be able to put them back closer to what they once were. Hopefully they’ll be able to find that old photograph to guide them. Best outcome of this forum would be to spur the folks on the Design Review board to consider these projects as historic renovations.

  3. Doug, you are exactly right about those new facades. Even my wife says they look awful every time we drive by and she is not really passionate about historic preservation, although she does appreciate period appropriateness and that is where these buildings also fail. I may or may not have did some dumpster diving for some doors and trim when they were tearing these two buildings up. 😉

    • I have gotten many fine things that way, Luke. I applaud you for it. Sometimes all that’s needed is a little paint or stain and the artifacts are good for another 100 years. I am always amazed at how Joanna on the Fixer Upper television show turns junk that most of us would ignore into art. Thanks for your observations.