Archive for April, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Scenes from Brightside Blitz Clean-up in Old North

Thank you to all of the neighbors and other volunteers who came out today to help clean up debris and trash throughout Old North as part of the annual Brightside Blitz.

Among the volunteers caught in the act of cleaning up Old North’s alleys, streets, gardens and vacant lots were Dave Eisenbraun, Brian, Heidi Sever, and Gloria Bratkowski (pictured above, from left to right).

Below  is the “before” picture of the pile these volunteers cleared away, along with the back of the “No Dumping” sign which had been dumped on top of the pile. (photo courtesy of Heidi Sever)

Over in the Hebert Street Community Garden, aka the Johnnie Owens Garden, Jay Roberts and Eric Little (shown in the photo below) assisted Barbara Manzara with the re-staining and re-sealing the arbor.

Doug Corey cleared and chopped wayward trees and branches on Sullivan (above) and Ross Dorsey (below) worked the 13th Street Community Garden.

Thanks to all others who put in hours of hard work while managing to avoid the glare of cameras - today and on the numerous other days of service to the community!

Friday, April 20, 2012

International Media Coverage of Old North in Cities Today

What do Toronto, Zurich, Budapest, and Old North St. Louis have in common? All are mentioned in an article on walkability and urban economic development published in Cities Today, a London-based magazine focused on urban sustainable development initiatives around the world.  Click HERE to read the online version of the article.

The article includes a photo of sidewalks being installed along the 1300 block of North Market during the construction phase of the North Market Place Homes development as an example of efforts to make the neighborhood more walkable.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Upstream Theater Performances Coming to Old North Gallery Sun., April 15 & Sun., April 22

The award-winning Upstream Theater will bring two performances of its current production of “Conversations with an Executioner” to Old North St. Louis Restoration Group’s Gallery at 2700 N. 14th Street. The performances are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 15 and Sunday, April 22.

Upstream Theater was recognized by the Riverfront Times as “Best Theater Company in St. Louis” in their 2010 “Best of St. Louis” issue with the following description: “if you’re open to having your mind stretched and your complacency challenged, if you welcome storytelling that is a little less conventional, then Upstream Theater should have a valued place in your theatergoing life.”

Among the actors performing in “Conversations with an Executioner” will be Old North resident John Bratkowski.

Because of the gritty nature of the play which commemorates the 69th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and addresses the aftermath of Nazi war crimes, the play is not recommended for children under the age of 13.  Admission will be free for audience members between the ages of 13 and 17 and will be $5 for audience members 18 and older.  This price represents a significant discount on the ticket prices for performances of the play at another theater in Grand Center.  The producers wanted to bring the play to Old North because of the neighborhood’s history as a home for many Polish immigrants and several generations of their descendants.

Due to limited seating at the Old North Gallery, reservations are recommended, and can be made by sending an email to

Arts programming at the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group’s Gallery is made possible in part by funding from the Regional Arts Commission.

Monday, April 2, 2012

6 Years Later, Mullanphy Emigrant Home Still Stands

Six years ago today, on April 2, 2006, the story of the landmark Mullanphy Emigrant Home nearly came to an end.  After a devastating storm with tornadic winds hit the 1867 structure, causing the south wall to collapse, the city’s building division issued a demolition order.

With strong support from Old North residents and others from throughout St. Louis who cared about preserving our city’s architectural and cultural heritage, Old North St. Louis Restoration Group launched a campaign to get the City to rescind the order.  Based on a structural engineer’s report commissioned by ONSLRG which showed that the building was not in imminent danger of complete collapse, the City withdrew their order and gave ONSLRG time to find a way to stabilize and secure the building.

By November of  2006, ONSLRG ended up purchasing the historic building and began a fundraising effort to cover the anticipated $100-150,000 expense of rebuilding the south wall and stabilizing the building.  However, on March 31, 2007, these plans suffered a major setback, and the hopes of saving the Mullanphy building seemed to be dashed for good when another massive storm hit the structure, blowing through the opening at the south end, leading to more wall collapses along the east facing side and much of the north wall.

Although the Riverfront Times declared the preservation efforts to be “the Best Lost Cause” in their 2007 “Best of St. Louis” issue, ONSLRG was able to mobilize enough support from the community to raise nearly $80,000 in contributions and loans from approximately 200 individuals and organizations, such as Landmarks Association of St. Louis, Society of Architectural Historians, the St. Louis AIA chapter, and many others.*  Schlafly Bottleworks donated beer and space for an emergency fundraiser; former Aldermanic Board President Jim Shrewsbury sent out an appeal to all of his past contributors; and Missouri Preservation added the Mullanphy Building to their list of most endangered historic sites in the State of Missouri.   With contributions of labor, equipment, and supplies, contractors affiliated with the Masonry Contractors Association and construction oversight from E. M. Harris Construction Co., work on rebuilding the foundation at the south side of the building and completely rebuilding the south wall, large portions of the adjoining east wall, and the north end continued throughout 2007 and reached completion in 2008.

Today the Mullanphy Emigrant Home building stands as a reminder of how our city grew rapidly in the latter part of the 1800s by putting out the welcome mat for newcomers arriving at our city from all over the world and as a testament to the power of a determined community undeterred by seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Thank you again to all who contributed to this great cause and assisted ONSLRG with the stabilization and preservation efforts.  Although the economy has not helped with a full redevelopment of the building, the Mullanphy Emigrant Home has been preserved and secured and is ready for a new chapter.  If you’d like to discuss ideas for a redevelopment and return of the building to productive use, please contact the ONSLRG office at 314-241-5031.  And if you’d like to assist ONSLRG with our ongoing holding and maintenance costs, give us a call or make an online contribution by clicking HERE (and scroll down to the “Make a Donation to ONSLRG” section) - and be sure to enter “Mullanphy” in the special instructions area.

*It’s also worth noting, which we neglected to do in the original version of this post, that the ONSLRG Board of Directors (led at the time by John Burse) deserves credit for agreeing to let the organization’s staff spend so much time on this effort and for committing over $75,000 of the organization’s scarce funds to the stabilization, securing, insuring, paying taxes on, and other ongoing maintenance of the building.


Welcome to the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group's blog. What's New in Old North chronicles the dramatic transformation under way in the neighborhood of Old North St. Louis. As a neighborhood just north of Downtown St. Louis, Old North is becoming a dynamic urban village of new and historic homes, a landmark eating establishment, beautiful community gardens, and a diverse, friendly, and engaged community.

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