Monday, April 2, 2012
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.