When approaching downtown St. Louis on Interstate 55, you've probably noticed the Lemp Brewery complex to the left as the highway makes a sweeping curve. Right next to the old brewery is another historic landmark, the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion, that is harder to see through the trees. Blink and you'll miss it.
The house represents a major historic preservation success story. In the late 1850s, the property stood in the way of the proposed "Ozark Expressway" (today's I-55). Due to local outcry, the highway department adjusted their plans to allow sparing the house, although an on-ramp was built just a few feet away from the front gate.
Having survived the bulldozer, the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion is now operated as a museum and event venue. It was the perfect location to announce this year's crop of Missouri Places in Peril, those historic sites that are currently threatened, but have the potential to become success stories.
In previous years, this was called the "Most Endangered Historic Places List", but the Missouri Preservation organization decided to change the name to reflect that this is not a contest to see which is the "most" endangered.
An "UnHappy Hour" reception was held Friday evening at the carriage house on the Chatillon-DeMenil grounds for the unveiling of this year's list in front of an overflowing crowd of over 120 people.
Bill Hart, executive director of Missouri Preservation, announced that these properties were selected for the Places in Peril list:
- Bend Road Bridge -- Pacific, Franklin County
- Livestock Exchange Building -- St. Joseph, Buchanan County
- Old Calaboose Jail -- Elsberry, Lincoln County
- The Former Faith-Salem Church (7348 W. Florissant) -- Jennings, St. Louis County
- Old Phillipsburg General Store -- Phillipsburg, Laclede County
- Woodside -- Maplewood, St. Louis County
- 100-118 W. Armour Boulevard -- Kansas City, Jackson County
- John R. Myers House and Barn (180 Dunn Road) -- Florissant, St. Louis County
- Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge -- Hazelgreen, Laclede County
- Superior Well Ticket Office -- Excelsior Springs, Clay County
- The James Clemens House -- St. Louis, City of Saint Louis
- Kemper Military School & College Administration Building -- Boonville, Cooper County
- University of Missouri St. Louis Campus Buildings -- Bel Nor, St. Louis County
- Phillip Kaes House -- Sherman (Castlewood State Park), St. Louis County
- Greenwood Cemetery -- Hillsdale, St. Louis County
In addition, several places from previous years were also mentioned as "Watched Properties" that have seen progress, but are still in limbo:
- The Route 66 Bridge -- St. Louis, St. Louis County
- The Henry Miller House -- Bloomfield, Stoddard County
- The Frank L. Sommer "Cracker" House -- St. Joseph, Buchanan County
- Oak Grove Memorial Mausoleum -- St. Louis, City of St. Louis
- The Diamonds Cafe -- Villa Ridge, Franklin County
- Wheatley-Provident Hospital -- Kansas City, Jackson County
- The Kemper Arena -- Kansas City, Jackson County
- The Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church -- Lexington, Lafayette County
- The Russell Hotel -- Charleston, Mississippi County
- Houston House -- Newburg, Phelps County
The Cape Girardeau area does not have any locations on this year's main list, although two towns in Southeast Missouri -- Bloomfield and Charleston -- are represented on the Watched list. However, that doesn't mean that we don't have any historic sites that are threatened. As I write this, Southeast Missouri State University is poised to fire up their bulldozers yet again -- and this time the university has found a way to target sites in Cape Girardeau and Ste. Genevieve (more on this later).
I should mention that I submitted the nomination for one of the properties on the list: the Bend Road Bridge in Franklin County over the Meramec River. A local campaign hopes to save the bridge for non-motorized use, potentially as an extension of the Ozark Trail into the St. Louis metro area. This would represent quite the coup for Missouri tourism.