I had a very interesting day today.
I'll save the details of said interesting day for another time, but I can tell ya that having to deal with the traffic and street closures in the Central West End (CWE) due to the Phyllis Schlafly funeral...what a nightmare.
Anyways...this morning I paid a visit to the house @ 4171 West Belle Place, which is near the CWE. I had heard the house was going to be demolished, and the owner was willing to part with pretty much anything. Unfortunately, the house was way, way too far gone to snag anything from the interior; the roof had collapsed at some point, fallen into the basement and taken everything with it. My understanding is that the house had (relatively) recently been placed on the National Register of Historic places, but in the condition the house was in...nothing was going to save it from the demo crew. Regardless, the house was built in 1882, and is/was a pretty solid example of Italianate architecture.
I went back to the house at lunch and hung out with the demo crew and neighbors, who were getting ready to watch the show, and then after I got done working at another job site, I swung by again and grabbed a few chunks of lumber that I'll turn into something. I was hoping to get something substantial, but there really wasn't any safe way to salvage much of anything.
The neighborhood itself appears to be one in transition. The Gaslight Square demolition and reconstruction several years ago seems to have brought a lot of new construction to the area, and IKEA, located a few blocks away, has undoubtedly spurred some new development. That said, there are still a LOT of vacant lots and houses in teardown condition.
The 1909 Sanborn Map paints a different picture:
100+ years ago, the blocks surrounding the house @ 4171 West Belle Place contained bakeries, drug stores, churches, a hospital, and more than one 2-story outhouse. With United Railways Co. having the right of way through an alley, I'd imagine there was some industrial areas and large employment centers nearby.
After 134 years, the house will come down, and before too long it'll be forgotten about by everyone but the immediate neighbors and historic preservation buffs (there had been an effort made to block demolition). As much as I hate to see old buildings get torn down, this one seemed different; 134 years is a pretty decent lifespan for just about anything, and having put my own 2 eyes on the building, it seemed like it - the house - was just ready to go. It's neighbor to the west was long gone, and some janky, piece of sh_t apartment building had been built (decades ago) just to the east, in what had one time been the eastern half of 4171's lot. The nearby older homes are boarded up (or gone), and new construction is popping up all over the place. The old house @ 4171, as glamorous as it might have been at one time...it's time had passed, and I think the house - as crazy as it sounds - kind of knew it.
I'll check in with the demo guys over the next day or two to see if there's anything else I can grab, and hopefully I'll be able to build some decent stuff.