Paging Larry Giles - Brass Plaque

Sent by Rich who found this blog while doing a search. I'd love to buy it but it must go to the St. Louis Building Arts Foundation. I thought it was a sidewalk plague.

This plaque is exactly 4" by 5". I found it (loose) on the floor of a back room of a building in North St. Louis. We were remodeling the building in some fashion. The year I found it was probably 1968, so I've had it for 40 years.

I have googled this thing 6 ways from Sunday, and haven't found anything or anybody, resembling or related to FF Hoffman.

Certainly u may post it. I have enjoyed the marker for 4 decades, but would be willing to sell it, and always wanted to find someone like yourself that really thought it was awesome, too.

BTW, it is unused, IE, it was never removed from masonry, it was just never installed. I always assumed that it was placed into brick walls; but do you think it was installed into cement walks?

1 comment:

tmaaz said...

I've really enjoyed your blog, returning several times to see the beautiful images you’ve shared over the years.

I found this plaque really fascinating, so I did a little digging — there are a couple possible reasons why you found this classic sidewalk marker (historically embedded into the sidewalk on street corners, to delineate the beginning/end of a particular block and to give credit to those who did the work). One possibility is a little mundane… but the other involves both U.S. and STL history.

1) The mundane possibility:

F. F. Hoffmann doesn’t appear to be the “official” name of the company — I found the “F. F. Hoffman” concrete company (note the spelling with one “n”, probably the Americanized version of the actual family name). There’s a small chance that this marker might have been a typographical error, and was not used because the name was incorrectly spelled.

I found several historical records of F. F. Hoffman submitting contract bids for concrete work in the Saint Louis area, dating back to 1908… one of which was for the creation of 12,000 feet (over 2.25 miles) worth of curbs and gutters in St. Charles.

While they may not be connected, there's currently a Hoffman-owned concrete company in STL in 2016, called Hoffman Flatwork ( http://www.hoffmanflatwork.com ) This could potentially be the same family company (or at least the same family in the same trade), owned by multiple generations of Hoffmans/Hoffmanns for over a century.

2) The interesting (and plausible) historical possibility:

You mentioned that the plaque was found around the early 70’s… this lines up with something related in history. In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was senselessly murdered in Memphis. Three years later, in 1971, STL civil rights leaders wanted the city to honor MLK’s memory (like other major cities were doing), by renaming a city street as a tribute to the fallen civil rights leader.

After some deliberation and virtually no opposition, the city chose to rename an eight mile stretch of two contiguous streets in north STL, which ran from the bank of the Mississippi, through the city, and over to Wellston. At the time, those two streets were called Franklin Ave and Easton Ave (with the street names changing over at their intersection with Jefferson Ave). On March 31st, 1972, Mayor Cervantes signature officially changed the two streets into one: Dr. Martin Luther King Drive.

The address listed on this plaque is 3878 Easton Avenue, which was once the corner of Easton and Vandeventer… but right around the time you found it, the corner had officially become Vandeventer and MLK. If the Hoffman company was replacing and resurfacing the sidewalks along this stretch at that time, the official name change would have rendered the sign inaccurate and unable to be used -- Easton Ave no longer existed. Or, as another plausible option, there’s a possibility that the plaque actually _was_ used and was already embedded in the sidewalk, but was removed as the street went through the process of the name change.

Vandeventer and MLK is now home to a gas station, and I can only find sporadic notes on what was there throughout STL history… but in 2012, a company called “Kings Food Phillips” bought several plots on that location, and leveled the entire thing. At the time of demolition, there was a cell phone business called “Union Wireless” at the corner address, and a community organization called the “Africa Resource Center”. Next to that was “Howards Auto Salvage” (with some pretty cool brickwork that was lost)… all of which were razed to put in the gas station that sits there today. I’ve linked to a couple online photos I found, taken by the city during demolition of that stretch of buildings (mainly added for the interesting brickwork on the automotive shop):


current view:

Hope this is useful -- thanks again for your wonderful blog!

All my best,