The St. Louis Symphony will demolish a house next to Powell Hall

Demolition is set to begin as early as Monday on a historic home next to Powell Hall.

The project is a huge loss for the curators, who for months tried to persuade the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra to save the 19th-century house. Symphony officials are tearing it down to prepare for the $100 million renovation and expansion of Powell Hall.

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra representative Eric Dundon said the matter has received a great deal of attention.

“While in a perfect world we would be able to save or move the building, we really felt as an institution that the best use of our money, time and resources would be to invest in the things that promoted the SLSO mission,” he said. said.

The house was filled with asbestos, black mold and rotting wood, symphony officials said.

Symphony officials had already made up their minds when they spoke with local conservators interested in saving the house, said Andrew Weil, executive director of Landmarks, which works to preserve historic buildings in the city.

As the house is not located in a historic city district or a preservation review district, it was not protected from demolition. So when worried citizens heard of demolition plans earlier this year, Wiel said he couldn’t quell their worries.

“I had to tell him it was a failure of urban planning,” Weil said.

Had the building been included in the Historic District or individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Weil said he’s confident contractors wouldn’t be planning for its demolition today.

“In this case, there really was no jurisdiction to deny the demolition request,” Weil said. “And so, they left.”

The Culver House is known by other names, including the former Portfolio Gallery building and the Stephen Allen Bemis House. It has housed art galleries and chiropractors and was left vacant when the symphony acquired the house in the summer of 2015.

Renovating Powell Hall will make the symphony more accessible to patrons and ensure the symphony has enough space to rehearse and perform in the future, Dundon said.

Workers salvaged many parts of the house this week, Dundon said, including wood, doors and stained glass. Many of these pieces were donated to the St. Louis nonprofit ReFab.

The loss of Culver House is a loss to the community, Weil said, because there aren’t many 19th-century homes left in the neighborhood.

“It is disappointing that an arts institution is destroying another component of St. Louis’ artistic, architectural and cultural heritage,” Weil said.

Farrah Anderson is the newsroom intern at St. Louis Public Radio. Follow her on Twitter: @farrahsoa.

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