3460 Oak Hill

Click on the title above to read the saga of this building.

Sam Meller (below) spoke at our Block Captain meeting this evening about redeveloping 3460 Oak Hill. CDA still haven't approved his plans or budget. He's planning six 1,200 sq. feet condo's.

What's it going to take?
Here's someone committed to rehabbing a building that's been empty and slowly falling apart for almost 12 years. Four other developers have either been turned away (see the Codd Brothers debacle) or walked away from the building. CDA is spinning its wheels and drawing out the process; Sam has been trying to get approval from CDA for 1.5 years.

Someone at the meeting asked Sam, What will happen to the building if you don't get it?
Sam: Jennifer said it will be torn down.

Oh, really?
J-FLo has been in office since Spring of 2001 and has had 7.5 years to make this building a priority.
She's up for election in 2008. If uncontested, she'll remain the alderwoman but that doesn't mean the 15th ward residents have to vote for her (just leave that box on the ballot blank).

Why I haven't been home

Broke my left paw and am typing with one hand.

Finally took the wrap off without waiting for the Doc to remove it tomorrow.
This thing had better work soon.

Sidewalk markers

Brass idewalk markers are being pried out of the pavement and sold for scrap.
Here's two different markers and a space where one has been removed.
Nope, I'm not naming the location and many thanks to Heath for directions.


Peggy planting trees in Marti's garden

The Donut Report

By Gary Pey, TGS Neighbor at Large.

Cue the Channel 4 News intro music. I have completed my assessment of the state of donuts on the Southside , and it is good! And just in time for the "real donut season" when baggy sweaters and bulge hiding flannel shirts are de rigor, and cider and hot coffee tastes great.
Let me begin with a little history for those new to the Southside. It used to be that there were ethnic bakeries every where in the city, German,French,Hungarian, Italian, Jewish, you name it, we had it. Then came the grocery stores with their sliced bread and Sara Lee coffee cakes and bakeries every where declined and went out of business. There were and are holdouts and upstarts, but not like the old days. I believe in the 1920s donuts became more and more popular. They were very popular during the Depression. Donut shops have hung on in some numbers in the city, and luckily for us there are many on the Southside. Bakeries usually don't have donuts, they have baked goods, hence the name. Donuts are deep fried, then iced,dusted, or filled or both. I know there are plain ones, but I don't no any one who has eaten one. They are not health food. They are delicious. Donuts are hard to find in West and South County, where the populace seems to love to gnaw and chew (and chew and chew) on bagels and such. They might find some Little Debbie Donut Gems at Schnucks or even some so called donuts in the bakery section, but they are donuts in name only. Missing is the ambiance that comes with going to the donut place where they are actually made.

Pastries: Let's get this out of the way. There is only one place on the Southside to get good pastries like Danish, canneloni, coffee cakes,etc. and that is Missouri Baking Company on the Hill. Fugetaboutit! It's the best. Second place is the pastry shop at Soulard, small selection but great stuff. Third would be Companion Baking Company on Gustine. Limited selection, and the selection tends towards the health food end at that. Last is Schnucks , but at least they're open late and you can pay with a check. Black Bear is strictly health food. The Bread Company is a national chain now and doesn't count as local, they do have pastries, but I find them on the chewy side and way overpriced.

There are only a few losers in this category, so I'll deal with the best first.

O'Fashion Donuts on Southwest. Probably the most embarrassing place I visited, since I was greeted with "Hey ! I haven't seen you in here in a long time!" I hate it when I'm recognized as a ex- regular, I feel like such a traitor. Truth is, I don't go that way to work anymore. This place is called Tyler Donuts in my family due to an unfortunate incident involving the birth of my third child, a long story for some other time. Gene has retired, and his son has taken over making the doughnuts. I call them doughnuts because you can really taste the yeast in glazed ones. Try the cinnamon twists and the cream cheese filled. Excellent. Cake donuts are pedestrian. Price is reasonable. Has that donut shop smell and good ambiance.

World's Fair Donuts at Shaw and Southwest (or is it Vandeventer?). I have these almost every Sunday after church at St. Margaret's. I find them so-so, but I've heard that the cinnamon donuts are fantastic if you hit it while they are still warm. Good price, usual selection. Plenty of ambiance.

Eddies on Kingshighway near McD's. The new place. Their cheaper donuts taste like World's Fair , but they have some premium ones ($1.00 or more each) that are outstanding. Try the filled ones. I also like the ones that are foot shaped, just because they are foot shaped.Some people probably won't like the banter they provide, since they might be buying these before they have had their morning coffee, but I find it amusing. Doesn't have any ambiance yet, it needs to be broke in for about fifty years first.

Donut Drive-in Donuts on Watson near Lansdowne. There used to be another one on Hampton and Southwest, but this is the original. Everything is good here. The filled ones seem to be super plumped so watch out or you'll wear some of it to work. Nothing out of the ordinary, just the regular selection, although I noticed that the you could not possibly get another sprinkle on the sprinkled donuts. It is usually crowded, but it moves fast. About the same ambiance as O'Fashion. Same prices as the others.

St.Louis Hills Donuts on Hampton, next to the BP station near Loughborough. Best ambiance, this could only be a donut place on the Southside. If it was in the county it would have been declared blighted and turned into a Payless shoe store by now. It had the best glazed I've tasted, really yeasty. Ask if they have any warm ones. Small selection, although they did have some Danish. Regular price.

California Donuts on Jefferson. R.I.P. Does anyone know what happened to them? Besides having good donuts, I loved the way they had a screen door for the entrance that had a satisfying jingle and slamming sound when you came in. I liked the kindly old black couple that ran the place. She would always say something that would encourage me like "Why don't you buy two more, that would only be six!"

Other Places:
Schnucks has pastries and donuts. The best thing is that you can pay for them with a check, debit card, or credit card, and get other groceries as well. I think the pastries are over iced and the donuts are heavy. Not bad in a pinch though. The musack kills any thought of ambiance, and just makes me want to shop faster and get out of there.
Shop and Save has Krispy Kremes which I find way too sweet, although they do have seasonal donuts like pumpkin. Same deal as Schnucks only without the musack.
Soulard Market has those minitature donuts made right before your eyes so you know they're fresh, but they just don't taste all that good. Ditto for the place that sells beignets. Just so-so. Everyone knows about the ambiance factor at Soulard.
BP and 7/11. BP used to have Dunkin Donuts (yeah!) but now has Donut King donuts. I don't know where 7/11 gets their donuts. I have just one word for these places: Gack!

Coffee: You may have noticed that I didn't mention anything about the coffee served at these places. It's because I am a coffee snob, and only drink the kind I make at home. Sorry. No, not really.

So there you have it. Go out and revel in such earthly delights! Keep in mind though that if you bring any of these babies to work, you may become the permanent "donut getter".


Marti's Frumhoff Memorial Garden

Tilling commences.

Trees go in on Wednesday.

Working the site I met some neighbors on Utah. A young man pulled up on the first day and asked if I was doing community service. When I explained I was a volunteer he told me he wanted to help. His name is Long and he brought his brother Duk along. Eventually Duk corralled members of his soccer team to help.

Joining me a bit later was Don and Jan (both 72) who tilled and carried buckets of soil for hours.

I went back on Sunday and within 15 minutes Long and Duk showed up to dig holes with me while Christopher tilled for hours. Long is 18, Duk is 10.

That afternoon a man named Cyril stopped who also lives on Utah and offered to help. We chatted and within ten minutes he said he wanted to be a block captain for his block.

Hard work digging in the clay but it's been a delightful experience and Long and Duk inspired me.

Feet framed by brick


Jeannie & Ben Marry in San Francisco City Hall

Congratulations to my friend Jeannie who married long time partner Ben in San Francisco. Jeannie is an iron worker and a helluva catch.
Click on the tile above to see some dazzling shots of San Francisco City hall and the fabulous newly weds in their 1940's attire.

Love you, Jeannie!


Accordion/Pyramid Brick

Here's a first: A house that used both accordion and pyramid brick.
These photos are from one column on a house in Tower Grove South.

Right above the accordion brick is a course of pyramid brick. Crazy! The mortar is a marvel.

This mortar had to have been hand tooled and pushed into place.


TGS Architecture Walking Tour Sunday Oct. 12 - 2 PM

Save the date and join us for the Architecture Walking Tour on Sunday, Oct. 12th at 2.

This is a fundraiser for the Tower Grove South Block Captains and is conducted by
Bad Tim who is a Real Live Architect.
I'll be in attendance in collect your 5.00 donation which benefits the
TGS Block Captain Fund.

We'll be meeting at the Car Wash (just south of the 7-11 on Juniata and MGF) on Morgan Ford at 2.
Tag along and listen as Bad Tim explain what it is, why it's there, what went
wrong, etc.

Click on the title above to read Bad Tim's Blog.


Gothic Garage

This garage in TGH that serves to illustrate every Flannery O'Connor novel I've read.

I had been enroute to meet Bad Tim for dinner when I spied a man near the garage and stopped to chat. He was the owner and after we chatted long enough for him to determine I wasn't as weird as I really am, he allowed me to come into his yard to do these photos.

Bonus point! The fleur-de-lis which completely captivated me. The owner said he thought it was a family crest. (Bad Tim disagreed over dinner.)
The owner told me the house was built by a stone mason named Bauer.

I am so freaking envious.


This pissed me off

A few days ago I went by the Marti Frumhoff Memorial Garden site and discovered these truck tracks in the clay:

Added to my annoyance was my talent for falling* which pitched me into a seething fury.

An irrigation system had been installed and as I stepped down into the wet clay which has the tenacity of quicksand to check on the line I slid into the clay stew. The stuff in the photo is the stuff of bricks. This was the day after an intense rain.

Sure enough a truck had taken out one of the sprinkler heads.

I came home and emailed the photo to the city project manager who met me on site today with a herd of other people: The contractor who built the site, The plumber(s) who installed the irrigation and an engineer.

Suddenly, everyone else was PISSED OFF.

Solutions were presented and discussed.

I mentioned I had offers from two neighbors who were willing to help till the site. I was told it's been tilled and had to explain to the herd of people that compost and gypsum must be added to the clay if anything is going to grow. Everyone agreed, boiling moods slowed to a simmer and the herd moved off.

Then I drove to Bayer's in Imperial, MO to pick out five trees.
Beau ran wild in the tree farm and lifted his leg on every trunk. *Bad Tim (after dropping me off after dinner one night) watched me fall down my front steps, roll across the sidewalk and land in the street. After asking if I was OK he said, That was spectacular!


Pulchritudinous Brickwork

Yet another reason I love living in Tower Grove South, I get to encounter intriguing brick and brick work:

39 Wyoming

I walked into CFX a few days ago. It used to be Holy Family church where I spent (literally) thousands of hours between grades 1-8.


Multi Color Granular Brick

These bricks are my current favorite.
The surface presents as rough as the mortar which was finger tooled in places to accommodate the brick face. I love that!

Each of these bricks have two or more colors.
Click on the photo to enlarge, the white mortar makes the colors pop.

Don't you miss it?

Don't you miss it, don't you miss it?
Some of you people just about missed it!
Last time to make plans!

I was driving along Tower Grove just north of I40 and noticed this building, that used to house the Ibex studio, is gone.
Intricate terra cotta with the fleur-de-lis. I did these photos two years ago.

Evans & Spring - North St. Louis

Where the brick disappears.

Terra Cotta Captials in Tower Grove South

And one carved wood:


Greetings from St. Louis! Part 2

Chase Hotel.
One of my favorite puzzles as a kid was, What's wrong with this Picture?

Bell Telephone.
My Dad worked for Bell. During the historical Wildcat strike in the 60's the workers carried signs that read, Ma Bell is a bad Mother....

Hotel York Sixth and Market:

Mayfair Hotel swimming pool:

Old Folks Home:

Yeatman High School

City Hall 1914: Brick street!

City Hospital: Mostly gone

Arena: gone