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Tell the Library Trustees That You Support Preserving the Lewis and Clark Branch Library
The plight of North County’s landmark Lewis and Clark Branch Library (depicted above in All Along Press’ stunning design soon to be featured on one of our T-shirts) is dire. The St. Louis County Library Board of Trustees has circled its rhetorical wagons around demolition of the Frederick Dunn-designed building, completed in 1963.
National press ranking Lewis and Clark among landmarks designed by Richard Neutra, Bertrand Goldberg, A. Quincy Jones and Eero Saarinen caught local attention. Still the Trustees of the St. Louis County Library press to tear down Lewis and Clark. In the minutes of the September 2013 meeting of the Board of Trustees is this section:
Regarding Lewis and Clark, the Administration is working with Landmark and the architects at KAI on programming the new building. It is our plan to build a new and bigger branch that will better meet the needs of the patrons as well as the community. We plan to save the stained glass windows and incorporate them into the new building in a prominent location.
Modern STL and preservationists oppose removal of the Emil Frei Art Glass Company windows, because they are integral to the building’s overall design — which is significant for a lot more than its distinctive windows.
According to minutes from the July meeting, KAI (working with Perkins & Will of Chicago) started design work on Lewis and Clark in early August. Details on where the new library building will be built are not public yet, although the Library has retained Centrex Strategies to provide public relations services for the facilities projects. For the Meramec Valley and Tesson Ferry branches, the Library has purchased new sites. A new Lewis and Clark Branch Library need not entail demolition of the old, it seems.
Modern STL offered former Library Director Charles Pace assistance in finding a compromise that would balance the system’s needs with preservation concern. We renew that offer to his successor, Kristen Sorth, and the Trustees. As we await news of the Library’s plans, we ask supporters of the building to take a small step toward its preservation.
TIME TO ACT: Send a copy of the following letter directly to the Board of Trustees of the St. Louis County Library. We especially urge patrons of the County Library system to sound off — even if you do not use the Lewis and Clark Branch, you are a stakeholder of the system and the Trustees’ ultimate decision represents your library system!
Tonight, we have seen history, in some small part, repeat itself. The figures of Lewis and Clark find a modern day kinship in the persons of Frederick Dunn and Bob Harmon. Both sets were pioneers, both succeeded because of a shared common vision with their colleague, both were greatly inspired by the future possibilities that lay before them. In short, Lewis and Clark, Dunn and Harmon ventured beyond the boundaries of the status quo. So it is no accident that Dunn and Harmon were able to capture the spirit of Lewis and Clark in that remarkable building, for they themselves possessed it.
The cathedrals of Chartres, Notre Dame, Cologne are magnificent structures. But they would not attract such attention without the harmony they possess, the harmony between art and architecture. This principle is wonderfully displayed in the Lewis and Clark library. The open space of the library, the penetrating presence of the trees and light through the windows, and the figures of Lewis, Clark, and Sacajawea all serve as a canvas for a spirit of exploration and adventure. How many other libraries can lay claim to such a backdrop? And what a fitting backdrop for a library, where minds young and old, can explore the treasures of mankind's acquired knowledge.
I think St. Louis may not realize what it possesses in the windows of the Lewis and Clark Library. Departing from the norm, they provide visual interest from both the inside and the outside of the building. Prior to this, stained glass was almost exclusively an interior interest. The library also moved a primarily religious medium into the secular world, without compromising its integrity. Sure, there are libraries out there that contain a stained glass window here and there, but they are almost always displayed as a museum piece, no different from a painting on a wall.
Very, very few libraries possess windows that are integral to the building and its identity.
I could go on and on about the stained glass and its beauty and contribution to the building, but two minutes were alloted to me and I fear that I've already abused that. We at Emil Frei would like to thank you for recognizing the work of our artists and craftsmen and for bringing attention to the great pillars of the past.
Presented by Steven Frei, September 19, 2013
Written by Aaron Frei
Read more about how this building is in danger HERE
Last night I ventured out to North County to see the historic Lewis & Clark Library and hear a talk by Esley Hamilton on Frederick Dunn. It features incredible stained glass windows by artist Robert Harmon of Emil Frei & Associates and is by far the most architecturally significant building in the St. Louis County Library system. It is also, coincidentally, slated for demolition under SLCL’s 2012 Facilities Master Plan. It all comes down to politics. Other parts of the county are getting new libraries...politicians feel that there will be an uproar if North County just gets a renovation project. I don't think the City of St. Louis was unhappy with the gorgeous renovation project of our City Library!
Please take a moment to write these people to express your concern.
Your input is crucial! To write in favor of preserving and renovating the historic Lewis & Clark Branch for future use, send a few words to:
St. Louis County Library
Lynn Beckwith, Jr.
President of the Board of Trustee
1640 S. Lindbergh Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63131.
We are all so used to seeing religious scenes in stained glass. I found it exhilarating to see the Lewis & Clark depictions in stained glass. It is worth the jaunt to see these wonders- 9909 Lewis-Clark Boulevard
My blog does have readers! I have been getting a nice response from Bernoudy/ architecture/ MCM enthusiast who want to make sure that this treasure is not lost. Everyone is just in love with the small home. There is real danger of the property being purchased just for the valuable Ladue lot. See my previous post HERE. There are some serious parties, though there is no resting until "they put their money where their mouth is!"
Read more HERE. This is one of my favorite buildings in St. Louis. How could they consider tearing it down! I have to admit that I have been in that Drive-thru a few times in the wee morning also.....just not recently.
The former Phillips 66 at Council Plaza. Photograph by Toby Weiss, 2001
I was sad to drive down Clayton Road the other day and see the demolition trucks tearing down the Lake Forest Pastry Shop building. It is not often that Ladue News is quoted, though it says that the building is being replaced with a nail salon. I hope the sign found a nice home.
This Saturday before you start your plans with your loved-one, come to the CWE and show your support for an endangered Mid-century building. Remember...once building like these are gone... it is forever. With the proper vision and design, this building could be the coolest boutique hotel in St. Louis.
Here is a link to a website that has been focused on the San Luis.
Here are some pics of The Standard Hotel on the Sunset Strip in LA. Once a shabby mid-century eyesore....now it is one of the hippest hotels in the area. All the San Luis needs is someone with the right vision for the mid-century building.
As I previously mentioned in a post the De Ville Motor Hotel (San Luis Apartments) on Lindell is due to be torn down by the Archdiocese of St. Louis and turned into a parking lot. With the right eye...this building could be an amazing, hip boutique hotel along the lines of The Standard or Mondrian in LA. See below for a statement from the Landmark's Association. Thank you to EcoAbsence BLOG where I stole this item.
former Hotel De Ville (San Luis Apartments). Landmarks' photo
The Board of Directors of Landmarks Association of St. Louis, Inc. urges retention and rehabilitation of the former De Ville Motor Hotel at 4483 Lindell Boulevard. Designed by Colbert, Lowery, Hess & Boudreaux of New Orleans and completed in 1963, the building is a strong example of mid-century modern architecture. Through curvilinear forms and differentiation of wall materials, the hotel possesses a striking geometric presence. With covered parking placed in the rear away from Lindell Boulevard, the Hotel DeVille promotes the pedestrian-friendly quality of the Lindell streetscape.
Additionally, the building is a complementary member of a collection of modern buildings around the intersection of Lindell and Taylor, including Lindell Terrace to the west, the Archdiocesan Chancery to the east and the Optimists' Club building to the south. Most recently the San Luis Apartments, the building maintains the street wall on Lindell, enhancing the context of the Cathedral. Loss of the building for a surface parking lot would dramatically demean this context. Thus, the Board emphatically opposes the creation of a surface parking lot on Lindell Boulevard in the Central West End Historic District.
I understand that the lovely, mid-century Clayton Forsyth Building is targeted to be torn down in the next couple years. It will be replaced with a retail and condo complex. I have always admired this building that echos the curve in Forsyth. It is too bad that St. Louis continues to tear down its mid-century architecture.
Check out the story hereconcerning the plans for the Archdiocese of St. Louis to tear down the San Luis Apartments on Lindell. This building has/had tons of potential to become a very hip boutique hotel along the lines of The Standard and the Mondrian in LA. The hallways are all exposed on one side to the outside of the building with just a glass wall. Imagine if you had colored lights in the hallway that cast a blue light out. So many options...too bad the building is going to become a parking lot???? right on Lindell????