Graffiti Building Coming Down

IMG_7903If you’ve driven northbound through St. Louis on I-55, you’ve seen this building. It’s nestled in the curve of the exit ramp that leads you onto the Poplar Street Bridge, and it’s been a point of interest for many years.

IMG_7895
Detail of the northwest corner of the building.

I’m not sure what it was in its original lifetime, but some time ago it was abandoned. First it stood vacant for a long time, and then it was boarded up; I guess they took out the windows for use in other buildings. Throughout this time, it slowly became overrun with graffiti. Very artful graffiti; someone spent a lot of time working—or playing!—on the exterior of this structure.

There was talk, I think, of the building becoming some kind of artists’ center. Whether the vision was for a place where artists could live and work, or whether it was to be some kind of gallery, or maybe just a large installation of some kind, I don’t know.

A few years later, the boards came off the window-holes, and the building was revealed as just a skeleton; everything had been stripped out except for the main structural pieces and the outside walls, which were, of course, still covered with graffiti. It seemed like this might be a step in the process of it becoming the rumored arts building, but then it just sat that way for months. Maybe years; it’s been hard to judge the passage of time with this seemingly immortal structure.

IMG_7894
View from the east side of the structure.

This morning when I drove by, though, I noticed some activity inside the skeleton; a backhoe right in the middle of it. I was getting off on the Memorial Drive exit, so I took a quick right to see if I could circle around the backside of the building to see what was happening. I found  a street I’ve never been on before—S. 2nd St., according to Google Maps—and parked on the east side of the building, where I took these pictures (clicking on the thumbnails will produce a larger view).

IMG_7900Yes, there’s definitely some backhoe activity taking place here. But whether it’s actual building demolition, I can’t say for sure. One loader was actually bringing dirt to the site from a block or so to the east, so I don’t really know what’s happening. Honestly, I can’t even say that the building itself looks any worse today than it did six months ago—from the other side, it has looked this emaciated for a while.

I’ll take a stroll past there during lunchtime in the next few days to try to learn more.

Update, February 7: I just came upon this Riverfront Times blog post with a story and photos of the demolition. That post, in turn, links to a history of the building, called Powell Square, that fills out the story.

Update, February 15: It’s still…coming…down.

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