Thursday, July 30, 2009

Murdoch home-leveled

A rare thing occurred recently in the beautiful South Hampton neighborhood. A home was razed. This drew my attention simply because this is such a rare event in this prideful, well established, cared for neighborhood. I wanted to get some pictures of the house as it was being demolished, but it happened quicker than I could react.

But thanks to google street view, I was able to get an idea of what was there. A nice little home.

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Here's what the site looks like today:
Why would a house in one of the nicest neighborhoods in St. Louis be torn down? My gut told me the reason was parking or otherwise car related.

Well tonight I was lucky enough to run into a Murdoch resident as I was taking some photos to ask about the situation. She indicated that the previous owner of the home was very old and the house was more than she could maintain. The woman was approached by the owner of Eddie's Donuts, the grey building in the photo above. And the verdict thru window for the donut shop.

If this story is true, we just lost a habitable and/or rehab ready home in this stable neighborhood for a freaking drive thru.

These wrecking ball blues are still blue.


  1. Unbelievable ... their donuts aren't even that good! But since you mention donuts, I'll give a shout out to my favorite .. the donut shop at Loughborough and Hampton (just next to the gas station). Nice owners and excellent donuts!

  2. Thanks for giving us the scoop. That is rather unfortunate. This whole section of Kingshighway is sort of a blank slate (given the old clay mine footprint to the east). It would be nice to retain everything urban for the moment when visionary leadership calls for something exciting and urban to transform South Kingshighway (such an underutilized area) into a true urban economic asset.

  3. There is a real risk of losing more buildings just west of Kingshighway. I remember the demo of the four-flat on Lawn three years ago, and am wary of the fate of the Avalon. There's now a board-up at Lawn and Chippewa, too. Perhaps the time is ripe for architectural survey and historic district listing to bring some tax credits to investors and developers, especially those who own rental buildings in need of upgrades.

  4. Hello Mark,
    I own this Donut shop and where the house was...
    If you can recall what the donut shop looked like before you would know how much I care about the city! I still live in the city and will always live here.I took down this house for two reasons.One is that it was in real bad shape,I mean real BAD. The second is that the prop line is only three feet off the back of the donut shop so there is no room for the drive thru to go on.I thought about this for a long time before I did anything,It was just that the people that lived there really just left it go to for.If you like I will meet you down there and talk with you concerns.I don't want to upset anyone,because I live here to.

  5. ^anonymous, thanks for reading. Firstly, kudos to you for owning a small business in the city, and caring enough to reply to this post.

    You'll have to forgive me, as I'm sure you can pick up from reading my site, I am a lover of St. Louis architecture. Anytime an irreplaceable home or building is lost to promote a more suburban or auto-centric cause, I am disappointed. It happens all the time, but usually not in neighborhoods like Southampton. Those homes retain their value very well and rehab opportunities are fewer and farther in between as the housing stock has continued to improve over the last 10-15 years. When my wife and I moved to St. Louis, we were looking for such a fixer upper in SoHa, but couldn't find one that was cheap enough. Homes being razed are truly rare in that part of the city. That's how my attention was drawn to Murdoch.

    One of my goals with this blog is to bemoan the loss of things that make me proud to live here. Old homes are surely one of these assets that STL needs to cherish.

    I think changing St. Louisians mindsets on demolition is one of the hardest things to do. It's almost as daunting as trying to convince people that not all schools in the SLPS are bad. That being said, I guess we will have to disagree on the razing of homes that are "beyond repair". Look at Soulard or Benton Park W. or Lafayette Square, many of those were in terrible shape but were gutted/rehabbed. Now look at them. In a neighborhood like Southampton, I think that home would have provided an excellent rahab opportunity, especially if the price is right. But that's all history. I understand that this is a free market economy and that people can buy a property and let it sit until it gets brick rustled (see Blairmont), or they can make a case to raze it. Therein lies one of the problems, STL's political and governing structure does not appear to be set up to conscientiously review demo permits, but rather to grease them through the system in a low profile way that doesn't upset folks like me and many others who have more of a preservationist bent.

    I would really like to hear your side of the story on how this demo went through. Did the city require a review of the demo permit? Did the neighborhood org. green light it? Did the alderman get involved? You can email me at to discuss if you are willing.

    Again, thanks for the comment.

    In my opinion, newer is not always better. Look at St. Louis County, they have the market cornered on new autocentric development. I hold firm to the opinion that St. Louis has to market itself as unique from the 91 suburban municipalities in STL county if we're to thrive. We need to accentuate the history, not destroy it or cover it up with modern cosmetics.

    I know I'm in the minority, but I like the old metal buildings from the 1940's and 1950's similar to the one that currently houses your donut shop. The light blue paint that once adorned the metal didn't do much, but a tastful restoration would have added to the landscape in my opinion.

    Again, thanks for reading and best of luck with the donut shop!

  6. ^ Thanks for responding, Mark. You already covered most of my points.

    I'll repeat your doubts that this building was unsalvageable.

    I'll also note that I would like to see Kingshighway move away from autocentric development. Donut shops are great, but if there's ANY food product that deserves a walkable, street-facing treatment with NO drive-through, it's donuts!

    Taking down historic, attractive, and salvageable homes for cars is a net loss for our city.