Optimism Threatened, But Hopeful

On May 1st nextSTL reported on Covington Realty Partners’ proposal for a 14-story apartment tower to replace Schwarz & Van Hoefen’s 1962 landmark Optimist International Building at 4494 Lindell Boulevard in the Central West End (read about it here). We’ve since learned, however, that the Central West End Development Committee’s recommendations against granting tax abatement for the project have caused the developer to walk away, meaning that the Optimist Club’s graceful New Formalist colonnades may be around for years to come. This tentative stay of execution for yet another of Lindell’s modern gems is particularly important in light of 2009′s demolition of the San Luis Apartments (1963) across the street and the impending demolition of Society for Crippled Children Building to the east (1948).

Photographer and Modern STL volunteer Krystal Maurer prepared the following photo essay to document the Optimist Club’s elegant design. Here’s hoping that the building’s next suitor will appreciate it for its beauty and reuse potential rather than as a tear down for replacement.

OI1_web OI2_web OI3_web OI4_web OI5_web OI6_web OI7_web OI8_web OI9_web OI10_web

Krystal Maurer is an elementary school teacher and aspiring photographer. She is passionate about mid-century modern design and architecture and enjoys photographing both. She lives in St. Louis with her mini schnauzer, Pepper.


DOCOMOMO US Letter on Lewis and Clark Branch Library

The St. Louis County Library Board of Trustees and County Executive Charlie Dooley remain steadfast in supporting demolition of the Lewis and Clark Branch Library, and we seem to be running out of ways to change the impending demolition. Still. we have found massive support for preservation from around the country. From library patrons in Moline Acres to the editors of Dwell magazine, it seems that everyone except the trustees understand the value of retaining and expanding Frederick Dunn’s masterpiece.

Here is one of our more recent letters of support, from the board of DOCOMOMO US.


Sugar Creek Ranch, Neighborhood of Distinction

Matt Duenke, son of Sugar Creek developer Burton Duenke, speaks at the award event.

Matt Duenke, son of Sugar Creek developer Burton Duenke, speaks at the award event.

On May 14, Sugar Creek Ranch, developed in the 1950s by Burton Duenke with houses designed by Ralph Fournier, received one of this year’s Kirkwood Landmarks “Favorite Buildings Awards” in the category of “Neighborhoods of Distinction.” The Neighborhoods of Distinction are for “an area of architectural significance and character that has maintained its integrity for 50 years or more.”

The Kirkwood Landmarks Commission and Architectural Review Board presented the award at the Kirkwood Train Station. The press release can be found here. Former Modern STL Board Member and Sugar Creek Ranch resident Amy Burger nominated her neighborhood for the honor. Modern STL salutes Sugar Creek Ranch on finding its rightfully honored place among Kirkwood’s many historic neighborhoods.

Matt Duenke, the son of Burton Duenke, along with his wife drove up to accept the award on behalf of his father. Duenke is also a builder, and he and his wife live at Lake of the Ozarks in the very last house Burton Duenke built, near the senior Duenke’s own Tan-Tar-A development. Matt Duenke was honored and humbled at how much people remember and respect his dad’s work, according to Burger, who snapped the photo shown above.

Preservation Month Showcase: MoModerne

Date: Thursday, May 22nd
Time: 7-9pm
Location: MoModerne, 8631 Watson Rd in Webster Groves
Cost: Free for members, $5 for non-members

momoderneModern STL presents our first-ever annual National Preservation Month Showcase event, which highlights an exemplary mid-century modern renovation. This year we’ll visit MoModerne‘s fabulous new store on Watson Road, opened in August 2013. MoModerne revived a 1961 commercial building originally designed by Erwin Knoesel (architect of Tropicana Lanes) for Herman Knoll Florist. This reception will feature light snacks and drinks on us, as well as a short talk on Watson Road and the history of Route 66 by Joe Sonderman, author of Route 66 Missouri and a KLOU radio DJ. To top it all off, MoModerne will offer a 25 percent discount on single items purchased during the event, so we’ll see you there!

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