Maplewood History: Instead of Demolition…Conversion

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The issue we have before us at present is the preservation of the original church/school building of the Immaculate Conception parish.  It currently occupies land that a developer would like to have to build 42-2 bedroom units of senior housing.

I have nothing against having a development of that sort within our community. But it is a bad fit in this location.  To fit at all would require the demolition of the 1905 church/school.  If it becomes necessary to disturb this historic building, why not convert it rather than demolish it?

I toured a conversion of just such a building some years back.  One that was in the family, so to speak.  It was the grade school of the St. Agnes parish where my wife went to school.  It is located at 2216 Sydney, a short distance east of Jefferson.

I’ve been by many times in the years since this building was repurposed to hold condominiums.  It is a joy to see it every time.  See for yourself.

This was the grade school for the parish of St. Agnes.  This magnificent facade had been obscured by a later concrete block addition containing stairs.  I don’t remember the name of the contractor who did this beautiful job but I believe he got an award from Landmarks Association of St. Louis.

https://www.landmarks-stl.org/about/about_landmarks_association_of_st_louis

Stunning brick work.

The eastern facade.

The threatened Maplewood building could be made very attractive in the right hands.  It is a good solid building with interesting, decorative brick work.  Across the street and adjacent to this building are apartment buildings probably built in the late 1960s or early 70s.  Most of the original homes on this block have already been lost to these apartments.

Not only should we not lose this building, don’t we already have enough apartments on this block?

This evening, Thursday, May 9, the Historic Preservation Commission of Maplewood will meet at 7:30 at the Maplewood Firehouse.  On the agenda is the proposal to demolish our historic church building.

I hope to see you there.

Doug Houser       May 9, 2024

3 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Doug Houser, for another extremely important article about our Maplewood community. Your work -research, historic/contemporary photos, and writing- helps everyone see how valuable our built environment is and that it is a major part of what makes Maplewood such a wonderful place. Maplewood should evolve into an even better place to live, with all welcome. As you have made so clear, that means finding a better solution for affordable housing than the idea of demolishing a highly functional, sturdy and historic, essential part of our community fabric: the Immaculate Conception school building. We are creative enough to find a better solution and a better location for multiple unit housing. In the future, let’s have public involvement from the very beginnings of development proposals such as this poorly-conceived one. Let’s strive to respect the environment and our childrens’ futures by not being a ‘throw-away’ society. Instead of needless destruction, let’s be aware of and dedicated to finding creative solutions to renovate and reuse our existing buildings.

  2. Ugh, no offense but that new development or the historic old church/school? No Question on looks/appeal. There seems there are definitely better less attractive spots where this development could go and help the landscape. Why doesn’t Maplewood sell the developer the land that is already owned and unutilized and unprofitable(?) and use the money to rehab this historic property for the community? The schools could use the gym for practice and for meetings which is needed, as a community place for people and Irish Arts to continue renting space, and we can share like most of our recreation facilities with Brentwood and Richmond Heights and whatever else. They have used it for occasions in the past. Of course I don’t know the details that it would take to go into this but feel it’s worth a try to save anything historic. Just ideas and many possibilities.

  3. First, I hope anyone who is concerned about this building comes to the meeting tonight at 7:30.

    Then, I would hope that before anyone would vote to demolish, they would come and look at the interior of the building.

    This is a beautiful, functioning historic building. What is the purpose of the Historic Preservation Commission, if not to preserve Maplewood’s historic buildings?

    Much will be lost, not only in the building itself, but within our community, if this building is demolished and taken to the dump.

    And in return for what? A projects-type building with very few of the apts for seniors at a low-income rate. I think the developer stated that some of the apts would go for $2200. (I really haven’t seen seniors clamoring for this.) Also, these apartments would be open to everyone who wants to live there. It is not being built for Maplewoodians. It is being built by a developer, to make money.

    What about allowing smaller or tiny homes in residents’ backyards, to allow for seniors to continue to live in place? This is more like the Maplewood I know.

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