St. Louis County Library Seeks to Demolish Historic Lewis & Clark Branch

July 21, 2012

From Modern STL:

“Of the twenty libraries in the St. Louis County Library (SLCL) system, Moline Acres’ Lewis & Clark Branch stands out for its exuberant modernist design and an architectural pedigree comparable to the finest mid-century buildings in the metropolitan area. Designed by prominent architect Frederick Dunn, FAIA, with Emil Frei Stained Glass windows by artist Robert Harmon, it was completed in 1963 at 9909 Lewis-Clark Boulevard.
 
Lewis & Clark Branch St. Louis County LibraryAfter nearly 50 years in use, the building’s architectural integrity is unparalleled amongst its peers, and it functions as a vibrant hub for the surrounding North St. Louis County community. Such qualifications should give pause when considering the building’s future, yet Lewis & Clark is slated for demolition pending the passage of a massive county bond issue in the fall of 2012.

On November 6, 2012, SLCL will ask voters to approve a $108 million bond issue to enact, among other things, a “proactive” ten-year facilities plan. Upgrades ranging from renovations, to additions, to wholesale replacement are a major part of the system’s strategy as recommended by the New York-based consulting firm Aaron Cohen Associates. The goal is to expand community and collaborative spaces, enhance flexibility, and provide more room for changing technologies. $76.9 million in funds would be allocated to replace eight, or nearly half, SLCL branches within four years, including the beloved Headquarters building in Frontenac. The historic 16,000 square foot Lewis & Clark would be replaced with a new $6.5 million, 20,000 square foot building.
 
Consultants have recommended Lewis & Clark’s demolition since 2008 because of its age and in spite of its excellent condition. The building has benefitted from numerous improvements since 2000, including a new roof, carpeting, HVAC system, parking lot, signage, furniture, and reference area. All of these investments would be lost in demolition, and all for a net gain of only 4,000 square feet. The need for this gain is questionable since the facilities plan also calls for the development of a new 15,000 square foot library building program for certain branches throughout the system. Given that the existing Lewis & Clark is 1,000 square feet larger than this, and in light of the building’s significance, one wonders why this scheme could not be implemented here.

Indeed, of the nine branches marked for renovations to existing facilities alone, seven range between 15,500 square feet and 18,000 square feet, and two serve higher populations than Lewis & Clark. These two, Jamestown Bluffs and Samuel C. Sachs, were built in 1998 and 2002. This indicates a fair amount of ageism in the decision to demolish the comparably sized and populated Lewis & Clark, which features an entirely open floor plan easily adaptable to 21st century needs.
 

Lewis and Clark Branch St. Louis County LibraryWhile most support SLCL’s desire to remain competitive in the fast-moving information age, its current strategy leaves something to be desired. As pointed out by St. Louis County’s Historic Buildings Commission, which opposes the plan, this takes none of these buildings’ architectural merit into account in weighing which should be demolished and which are deserving of renovation and addition. The Lewis & Clark Branch is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places based on its exceptional architectural significance and as a symbol of post-war development in North St. Louis County. Surely the St. Louis County Library system can move into the 21st century while still preserving its significant architectural past.

Your input is crucial!

To write in favor of preserving and renovating the historic Lewis & Clark Branch for future use, send a few words to:

St. Louis County Library Director Charles Pace: cpace@slcl.org

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley: http://www.stlouisco.com/YourGovernment/CountyExecutive/DearCharlie


National Scenic Byway Foundation Webinar on Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 16, 2012
National Scenic Byway Foundation

From the National Scenic Byway Foundation:

“Over the past few months, the National Scenic Byway Foundation has been working closely with the America’s Byways Resource Center to create a new website that will launch this month. As you may already know, the National Scenic Byway Foundation will be taking ownership or custodianship of many of the publications, tools and trainings developed by the Resource Center. The new website will feature those materials and continue to keep them available for byway volunteers, leaders and coordinators. The website will also contain new marketing tools and will provide links to additional resources for byways.

To introduce the new website and allow people to become familiar with it, the Foundation, along with the Resource Center, will be hosting a webinar for everyone in the byway community. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, July 17 at 1:00 PM Central Time. You can register for the webinar here.

All who register will be allowed to participate. Please join the National Scenic Byway Foundation as we introduce you to this new and valuable resource for the byway community.


2012 NPS Route 66 Cost-Share Grant Award Announcement

July 14, 2012

From the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program:

“We are pleased to announce the 2012 National Park Service, Route 66
Corridor Preservation Program Cost-share Grant Awards. The next grant cycle will be open from January to March, 2013.”

Awarded projects:

Hualapai Tribal Route 66 Interpretive Project – Arizona

Flagstaff Route 66 Rest Area Interpretive Project – Arizona

Historic L Motel Rehabilitation – Arizona

Sprague Super Service Window and Door Restoration – Illinois

Boots Motel Roof Restoration – Missouri

Crestwood Bowl Neon Restoration Project – Missouri

Wagon Wheel Motel Roof Replacement – Missouri

Circle Cinema Theatre Façade Restoration – Oklahoma

El Vado Motel Neon Sign Restoration – New Mexico

Del’s Restaurant Electrical Upgrades – New Mexico

Read the entire report here: 2012 NPS Route 66 Cost-Share Grant Award Announcement


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