Tower Grove South Block Captain Meeting

Here in TGS we have a well organized group of volunteers: Block Captains. Lead by Andrew Gondzur, who has been a volunteer organizer going on nine years. The steering committee consists of four people: Andrew, Peggy, Liz, and yours truly. We're always interested in new talent.

We meet as a steering committee once a month to jam and as a group on the last Monday of every month.

We've built partnerships with the police, media, our NSO's and have strong planning abilities. We love our neighborhood!

Last night we presented our Green theme meeting with 40 residents present.

Todd and his architect, Paul Breden delivered an exciting discussion of transforming Todd's bungalow in TGS into an energy efficient home. Read more about it here: http://livegreenstlouis.wordpress.com/

Todd (on the right) with Paul Brenden.

Todd's architect, Paul Brenden displaying the model of Todd's home

Terry Winkleman of Home Eco

Terry told us about the products her store is selling and clothing made of hemp and soy means I will be there soon to shop. I've a hat made of hemp and love the durability. The store also sells bamboo and cork flooring, bioplastic trash bags, organic cotton sheets, composters, recycling bins, and other renewable energy products.

BC coordinator, Andrew displayed his electric bike. He has installed a kit that added a rechargeable electric motor to his old bike. With the twist of his handlebar he can go from pedaling to a nice boost of "motorized help."

"I can, go farther and faster than I would if I were just pedaling," he said, which is why Andrew now takes his bike, not his car, to the post office, the library, his children's schools (it has a hitch, the kids ride in a detachable cart), and the grocery store. "Why take 5,000 pounds of car and burn expensive gas to get one thing you forgot at the supermarket? Now I leave my car at home." Its the equivalent to a hybrid car, no idling, both pedaling and electric at your fingertips, literally. It can travel 30-40 MPH.

After the meeting Andrew let a few of us ride the bike. It was SO MUCH fun to ride a bike uphill without pedaling.



Last night I was sitting here at my desk minding my own business when suddenly this mammoth bug came in for a landing. Freaking monster. I'm used to such hijinks in my life, 'funny' stuff happens daily. Ask Tim and he'll tell you I'm a magnet for The Weird. I was once referred to (in print!) as 'Gods register on earth for the marginals' so it must be me...

Why was it in my house, does an insect like this need to conduct business indoors?

It's dead. I caught it with a plastic bag and it expired over night. I believe it was on its last leg anyway (see photo) so don't razz me about killing the creature.

Lights out!



In an older post I've referred to these bricks as Brownie Brick since the surface presents like a pan of baked brownies. The style is call drag faced because of the texture and depth. The outstanding added value of texture influences the way light is reflected off the brick surface, how much light and shade is created and the perceived color of the facade.

These are currently my favorite bricks in TGS. NE corner of Roger and Oleatha.

Looks like the surface of baked brownies, I tell you.

It's not really poison ivy but ivy is poison to brick because it will root into the brick and mortar and eventually lead to a building in need of repointing (roots need moisture, brick is porous.)

In the photo below you can see where the roots are left long after the ivy was pulled and new mortar applied.

The ivy is growing back, YIKES!



I recently wrote an open letter to Mayor Slay about one of my favorite buildings, 3460 Oak Hill http://stlouisbricks.blogspot.com/2007/07/3460-oak-hill-redux.htm

I sent the above link via email and received a letter dated August 4 from Barbara Geisman:

Dear Ms. Herman:

Thank you for your email of August 1, 2007, advising Mayor Slay that you had posted a letter to him on your blog. The Mayor asked me to respond to your email in my capacity as his Executive Director of Development. I have accessed your blog and read your letter, and have printed it out as an attachment to this letter...In the future, if you have questions or comments that you wish to direct to Mayor Slay and his staff, it would be helpful if you could send them directly to the Mayor - there are a lot of wonderful communications on the Internet that concern issues in the City but unfortunately we do not have the time to search the web and find them all.

By copy of this letter, I am asking LRA and CDA staff to take the following actions in response to the concerns raised in the letter that was posted on your blog.

Marian, I would appreciate it if you could provide me with a narrative on the actions CDA has taken to date to find a qualified developer for the property.

Laura, I would appreciate it if you could take a close look at this property and arrange for LRA's maintenance staff to secure it to the maximum extent possible, recognizing that we want this building to be saved and restored. I would also appreciate it if you can give me a report on the condition of this property and what LRA has done to restore it.

Ms Herman, once I receive the above-requested responses from Marian and Laura I will share them with you. I believe CDA has been attempting to find a qualified developer for this property for some time. I hope Marian's response will shed some light on why this has been so difficult.

Thank you for taking the time to write and thank you, most of all, for choosing to be a city resident. You and other like you are Mayor Slay's very important partners in his drive to make St. Louis City a great place to work and play once again.

Sincerely yours,

Barbara A. Greisman

Copies: Mayor Francis G. Slay; Honorable Jennifer Florida, Alderwoman 15th ward; Jeff Rainford, Chief of Staff; Jill Claybour and Marian Miller, CDA administration; Rodney Crim, Otis Williams, and Laura Costello, SLDC

It was great to have a quick response from the Mayor's office although I'm puzzled by 'Make St. Louis City a great place to work and play once again.' Yikes! What am I missing?

I do understand that Mayor Slay can't be expected to read every blog. The reason I had emailed him a link to my blog article was to provide text and photo illustrations.

I waited two weeks and stopped by 3460 Oak Hill on Sunday.

The shrubs along the side of the building have been removed! Please go after that tree also, the roots could be infiltrating the building foundation.

Rows of mortar popping out and a section where a group of bricks is about to jettison. I didn't notice this a few months ago....new? Life safety issue?

Holy stinkola! Missing bricks in the parapet, rows of disappearing mortar and new graffiti on the inside of the windows.

Many more broken windows on the second and third floors. I didn't check the back door to see if it was secured since I was off to meet Bad Tim for dinner. The back door board up was hanging open last fall (which was how I took those interior photos and photos from the roof)

One remaining intact window. Will the others be secured from winter storm damage?

The neglected shrubs that have previously obscured the front of the building have been removed, thanks! I've been wanting a photo of the doorway for years.

As of today, I haven't heard back from LRA or CDA. I have heard a rumor that Sam Mellen had submitted a plan to redevelop the building.

Further reading on this building: http://www.15thwardstl.org/taxonomy/term/31


Steve Wilke-Sharipo Bon Voyage Soiree at The Royale

How depressing.

Steve Wilke-Sharipo (one of my neighborhood heroes) is leaving St. Louis so I organized a party at The Royale but it just wasn't fun. Sure, it's always great to see neighbors and friends but the event underscored another loss of dazzling brilliance.

As I was leaving, Royale owner (and the coolest Daddy-o I know) slipped me a 100.00 donation for Marti's Memorial garden.

LOVES me some Steve's!


During the Tower Grove South Architecture Walk last spring, Rich invited us to tour the first floor of the house he shares with his wife, Claudia. It's an Arts and Crafts palace on Utah St.

At the time, I didn't take any photos being overwhelmed by its magnificence so I invited myself over for tea.

Rich and Claudia are the curators of this building in Tower Grove Heights, a house that owns them instead of the reverse. They were more interested in restoring the building as opposed to rehabbing. They told me tales of covered stained glass windows -- some had been covered with large mirrors or plaster and one was found in the basement.

Each room has a different theme to the windows: the living room is roses, the dining room peaches and grapes. An upstairs bedroom has two windows with iris and a bathroom has lily pads.

Living room: fireplace, colonnades and stained glass with roses.

Rookwood tiles


Dining room with peaches in the stained glass window.

Lily pads

This painted stain glass with Mermen window is on the landing to the second floor.