Archive for the ‘Mullanphy Emigrant Home’ Category

Saturday, February 6, 2016

It’s Time for a Change

A Message from Sean Thomas, Executive Director
Old North St. Louis Restoration Group
Thank you!
I can’t think of any other way to start this message other than to say thank you to so many of you who have been a part of my work at Old North St. Louis Restoration Group over the past 12 years. Those years have been thrilling, nerve-wracking, awe-inspiring, a lot of fun, occasionally frustrating, and so much more - and sometimes all of that in the course of one day. However, this roller coaster ride has to end sometime. That end is now on the horizon, although the exact date of my last day as ONSLRG’s Executive Director is still to be determined. I want to finish up some commitments and be here to celebrate some of the big events on our calendar, such as the Old North House & Community Tour on Sat., May 7, so, I’ll be around for a little while.  Even after I’m off the payroll, I look forward to continuing my support for the work of ONSLRG in whatever way is helpful. At the very least, I can assure you that you’ll see me periodically at Crown Candy, La Mancha, North City Farmers’ Market or Old North’s First Friday Art Walks.
As I begin the process of winding down my duties, cleaning out my desk, and passing along my responsibilities, I want to pause to acknowledge some of the people who helped bring about so many of the incredible things that have taken place in Old North.
I have had the privilege and honor of having the best seat in the house to witness a genuine, community-driven transformation that has been called “one of the country’s best revitalization stories.”
The highlight reel of all that I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of at ONSLRG could go on for hours, so I’ll have to settle for the following:
I.  A baker’s dozen of memorable moments, events, and developments (& the people behind them) from the past dozen years;
II. A brief summary of the reasons to be excited about Old North’s future; and
III. A few suggestions for how YOU can help support the ongoing revitalization of Old North.
12 (+1 more for good measure) Highlights of Developments, Neighborhood Changes, & Groups of People that I Am Thankful to Have Been a Part of…
1. North Market Place Homes
The list has to start with the North Market Place new homes, for two reasons: (1) that development represented, at the time, the single biggest and most visible sign of new investment in Old North in many years, and consequently served as a catalyst for a lot of the other positive developments that followed; and (2)  because by the time I started with ONSLRG in 2003, the community had already been working on the plan for several years - and residents of the community were adamant that this new development would reflect and respect their values and vision for the community. Many pieces had to come together to make it happen, including finding the right partners with capacity, but it all started with a vision and a plan crafted by the community, facilitated by members of ONSLRG’s Board and staff, including John Burse, Will Winter, and Tom Tschetter.
That project was made possible by more people and organizations than can be listed here, but key players from outside Old North included staff who were at Regional Housing & Community Development Alliance at that time, notably David Dodson, Aaron Burnett, and Lloyd Simms, who spent a good chunk of the next several years working with us on North Market Place and two subsequent projects. All of those deals were complicated, but David, Aaron, and LLoyd were always respectful and collaborative in working with their community-based partners.
2.  North Market Apartments
The next game-changer in Old North was the North Market Apartments, which involved rescuing multiple historic buildings that were well on their way to complete collapse. The transformation of those 9 eyesores into 32 decent, attractive, and affordable rental apartments sent a powerful message to residents and visitors alike that something big was going on in Old North. That development also provided a good case study of how affordable and attractive rental housing not only can be compatible with market-rate, for sale housing, it can also boost the sales of new homes.
Because of the success with attracting investment and people to new houses and rehabbed apartments in the North Market area, and the track record of a good partnership between ONSLRG and RHCDA, combined with the talent and skill of general contractor, E.M. Harris Construction Co., the next big thing to follow was probably the largest and most complicated development deal any of us will ever be a part of…
3.  Redevelopment of the Former 14th Street Pedestrian Mall into Crown Square.
I can’t say enough about that project, but it will forever be a highlight of my career, not just because of the scale of the $35 million, 27-building development but because of the phenomenal team of people who were part of that endeavor, from our development partners, architects, contractors and sub-contractors, and the very patient neighbors and nearby businesses who thought the project would never end.
4.  Rescuing & Securing the Mullanphy Emigrant Home
Some of the same parties who helped make Crown Square possible, especially E.M. Harris and Rosemann Architects, also pitched in to support ONSLRG’s efforts to rescue the Mullanphy Emigrant Home from a demolition order issued by the City of St. Louis after a devastating storm blew out much of the south walls in 2006.
Until some passionate preservationist neighbors encouraged ONSLRG to lead the efforts to save the building, the end was almost certain for the architecturally, culturally, and historically significant Mullanphy Emigrant Home, which had been built in 1867 and anchored the southern end of Old North. The cause was even closer to being declared hopeless almost exactly a year later when another storm blew through the building and knocked out much of the north wall.
The Mullanphy building is still around today because of the generous and determined support from neighbors and hundreds of others from throughout St. Louis who rallied to support the cause with contributions of money, time, and other resources. That list also is too long for this space (but you can click on Mullanphy Emigrant Home in the Categories section in the right column to see the dozens of blog posts, which provide a lot more detail of the project and the people who made it possible).
5. Partnerships with University of Missouri- St. Louis & MU Extension
The importance of physical and visible transformations cannot be overstated in the process of changing the trajectory of a neighborhood, but sustainable revitalization requires so many other pieces to fall into place.
As with everything I’ve noted so far, there have been multiple key partners who worked closely with ONSLRG to advance a very ambitious, comprehensive, neighborhood-wide revitalization strategy. On several different occasions, a few individuals at University of Missouri - St. Louis, and their colleagues at University of Missouri Extension, stepped up to play key roles.  Kay Gasen, Andrew Hurley, and John McClusky (and others) were already involved with ONSLRG as part of a 3-year community-university partnership when both Kay and John encouraged me to pursue the position of Executive Director.  So, for that alone, I extend my tremendous appreciation to both of them.
Those university connections produced so many important elements of how the story of Old North is told (from the history book, DVD, and brochure for the history trail) - and resources that helped shape the way ONSLRG has operated (including strategic planning assistance from John McClusky on 3 separate occasions). Andrew has captured the history of Old North in more than one book and has worked with us to develop tools for using that rich history to guide plans for new, in-fill construction.
6. Old North Grocery Co-op
Kay and her colleague, Kara Lubischer, from the Extension side of the university system, brought tremendous insights, research, resources, and connections to ONSLRG’s work to launch the Old North Grocery Co-op in 2010 - and practically worked out of the ONSLRG office for several months.
The whole experience of the community-driven planning process and the massive amount of work put in by residents and friends of Old North served as yet another demonstration of the do-it-yourself approach and community-entrepreneurial spirit of Old North. And, even though not everything will turn out in the ways we want, that shouldn’t hold us back from experimenting and trying new and ambitious approaches to seemingly intractable challenges, especially when no one else is doing anything about it.  The very fact that the Old North Grocery Co-op made it to a successful launch was nothing short of a miracle, with the right people, resources, funding, and a vision coming together at just the right time  – thanks to Missouri Foundation for Health and the Empowerment Zone, property owner Ken Kranzberg, university support from Kay and Kara, and so many residents and friends of the community.
7. North City Farmers’ Market
The co-op wouldn’t have happened at all had it had not been for our experience with the North City Farmers’ Market, which had its very modest start in 2007, with funding from Missouri Foundation for Health and an initial vision created by our friends at New Roots Urban Farm.
The primary focus of the market has been to bring fresh, healthy, and affordable foods to the heart of the neighborhood, but we have always seen the market as more than just a place to buy stuff. For 20 Saturdays in a row over the past 9 years, the market has been a great gathering place where residents and visitors of diverse backgrounds can come together to celebrate community, enjoy live music, children’s activities, exercise and fitness, cooking demonstrations, and much more. All of that requires a dedicated team of volunteers who come out week after week after week. Thank you to all who have given of their time and labor to make the market happen!
8.  Community Gardens
With the distance of a short block from the 13th Street Garden to the North City Farmers’ Market, we really have the “shortest distance from harvest to market” here in Old North.
The 13th Street Garden - and Old North’s 8 other community gardens, have been cultivated and maintained by a dedicated team of garden volunteers, with years of support from Gateway Greening, and free use offered by land owners, Ken Kranzberg (for 13th Street) and the City of St. Louis Land Reutilization Authority (for most of the other gardens).
9.  Strong & Enduring Anchor Businesses
One of the most encouraging developments in recent years has been the arrival of new businesses and nonprofit service providers, but special acknowledgment needs to go to the businesses that have stuck it out during the tough times and are still going strong today, from Marx Hardware to Headhunters Barber Shop, and Crown Candy Kitchen (which provided caloric support for countless meetings with visitors, prospective homebuyers, development partners, funders, and friends over the years, not to mention many years of ice cream for our house tour attendees).
10. A Vibrant & Growing Arts-Supporting Community
Further evidence of the vibrancy and creativity of Old North can be seen in the windows of the neighborhood’s galleries, music at the corner plaza, exhibits and events, such as First Friday Art Walk, and special programs, such as last September’s Shakespeare in the Streets (thanks to Shakespeare Festival St. Louis).  So much of the art in Old North has benefited from support from Regional Arts Commission, including many years of grants to ONSLRG.
11.  Neighbors Working Together To Create a Safe & Supportive Environment
Many visitors remark about the “small town” feel of Old North, largely due to the warmth of the community and the way residents look out for each other.  Among the positive byproducts of that attitude has been a steady reduction in crime over the years (down 42% from 2010-2015). That type of progress doesn’t just happen automatically, especially when surrounding areas or citywide numbers have not experienced the same results. Residents and businesses all over Old North deserve credit for that, but among the leaders deserving acknowledgment are Vela Hermann and members of Old North’s Neighborhood Ownership Model team, including ONSLRG staff and current and past 4th district police representatives, such as Officers Lori Wozniak, Rich Schicker, Jamie Partee, and Capt. Kreismann (and several other captains before her), as well as the many neighbors who show up for community meetings, who call their neighbors when they they have reason for concern, and go out of their way to pick up litter.
12.  A Wonderful Staff of Dedicated and Caring Individuals
The day-to-day work of running Old North St. Louis Restoration Group has been a team effort from the beginning, and virtually everything ONSLRG has worked on over the years involved full staff participation, regardless of job titles or official responsibilities.  I have had the pleasure of working with an amazing group of individuals, including:
- Jane Smith, office manager through 2013…
-and other former staff members Irvetta Williams, Karen Heet, and Claire Wolff;
- as well as the great team we have today: Community Development Specialist Matt Fernandez, VISTA Health Initiatives Coordinator Jessica Payne, VISTA Sustainable Development Coordinator Brendan Ziebarth, and AARP Senior Service Corps Receptionist Charlotte Harris.  I can’t thank these individuals enough for their constant above and beyond the call of duty efforts. A more detailed description of that will have to come later.
…and it shouldn’t go without noting that our staff benefited greatly from support provided by a very long list of interns and practicum students over the years. I wish I could name them all here, but that, too, will have to wait until later.
13. Caring, Thoughtful, and Committed Board Members
Finally, my greatest thanks go to the people who have entrusted me with this job. The group of people who set the course for the organization, ONSLRG’s Board of Directors, come from a variety of backgrounds and life experiences, but they share a common sense of purpose in making Old North the “Best Place to Live” that it is today.
Special thanks to the two Board members who were around in 2003 and have offered reliable support and encouraging words ever since, Gloria Bratkowski and Dave Eisenbraun.
Three other Board members who, sadly, are no longer with us  - Johnnie Owens, Rev. Richard Taylor, and Tom Tschetter -  brought different talents and perspectives to the Board but always provided inspiration to keep moving forward, regardless of any hurdle.
Over those years, the Board has enjoyed leadership and direction from 3 different Board Presidents, each bringing his own style and set of priorities. Thank you to John Burse, Tino Ochoa, and Doug Rasmussen for your support of me, personally, and for keeping the organization grounded in the community while regularly pushing to achieve ambitious goals.
So, what’s next for Old North?
Rest assured that my departure does not reflect any diminished confidence in the future of Old North or the viability of Old North St. Louis Restoration Group. In fact, I have more excitement than ever about Old North’s future. Reasons for hope for Old North’s continued revitalization are too many to list here, but the following are just some of the items on that list:
  • Construction will be starting very soon on the 1300 block of Monroe for new, for-sale energy-efficient houses, which will mark the return of new construction within the North Market Place development area after several years off…
By the way, if you’d like to get one of these new homes before they’re all snapped up, contact Matt Fernandez at 314-241-5031, ext. 101 or at
  • a lot of new energy, activity & ideas coming from new neighbors & organizations, such as UrbArts…
  • We are currently in the midst of promising conversations about a redevelopment of the Mullanphy Emigrant Home building (more to come on that later)…
  • Our STL North LLC partner, Ken Kranzberg, is working with us on plans for redevelopment of the one-time pasta factory building at 1225 St. Louis Avenue into affordable artist loft apartments…
  • the soon-to-be-released Sustainable Development Plan for Old North, produced through support from EPA, will provide a good outline for positive, sustainable and community-enriching development…
  • …And, most importantly, Old North continues to attract, retain and engage a strong, resilient, determined, passionate, and growing community of residents and stakeholders who are going to keep working hard to make Old North the vibrant, dynamic, friendly, welcoming, safe, and sustainable neighborhood they know it can be.
The work of ONSLRG will continue - BUT your help is needed!
No matter how much progress has been achieved, Old North still has plenty of work to do, and the community needs a neighborhood-based organization to facilitate the process and continue pulling residents, key stakeholders, and supporters together. What makes a community sustainable isn’t the building stock - it’s the people.  Real estate development is a key piece of any revitalization strategy for a neighborhood that experienced generations of de-population and disinvestment, but genuine community development needs much more than that.  And that’s why Old North St. Louis Restoration Group remains committed to pursuing a comprehensive approach. Unfortunately, many aspects of that comprehensive approach don’t generate any - or enough -  revenue to cover their costs. So, we rely on the generosity and support of any and all who believe this work is worthwhile.
If you believe the community-driven approach of Old North St. Louis Restoration Group is worth continuing, I encourage you to help ONSLRG sustain and build upon the great achievements that are evident today.
Please show your support for the mission of revitalizing the physical and social dimensions of Old North in a manner that respects the community’s historic, cultural and urban character by making a contribution right now. Just click on the button below to make a secure, online donation.
Other ways of providing financial support include buying as many tickets as you can for the annual Old North House & Community Tour, scheduled for Saturday, May 7 by clicking HERE, and/or becoming a house tour sponsor (or referring a business you know) by clicking HERE.  Or, you could always buy a new house when they’re ready or one of ONSLRG’s rehab-ready houses. (Click HERE for info on the rehab-ready houses.)  If you have any other ideas, give us a call at 314-241-5031 or send an email to
Thank you again to all who have been with me on this phenomenal adventure over the past 12 years!
Saturday, January 16, 2016

4 Weeks Left for History Museum Exhibit Featuring Old North

Since 2016 is the bicentennial of the founding of the Village of North St. Louis, this year represents a great opportunity to explore some of the fascinating history that makes Old North what it is today.

Time is running out on an exhibit at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park, which features a glimpse into Old North’s past. The current exhibit, A Walk in 1875 St. Louis, has already become the museum’s third most visited temporary exhibit of all time and been seen by almost 200,000 people. The exhibit will be closing on Feb. 14. Since Old North is one of nine neighborhoods that are prominently featured, we encourage all to help us in spreading the word to neighbors and friends of Old North about this one of a kind chance to explore our own shared history in an engaging, educational, (and free!) locale.

The following overview has been provided by staff at the museum:

In 1875, Compton & Dry’s gigantic map Pictorial St. Louis: The Great Metropolis of the Mississippi Valley accurately depicted more than 40 square miles of St. Louis from a soaring birds-eye view. Every home, factory, street, and even outhouse was brought to life in a book of 110 map plates. We used this incredible map to dive into the streets of nine different 1875 St. Louis neighborhoods. On canvases 30 feet long and 11 feet high, visitors learn who lived in the homes, what area businesses made, and how the areas were developing in the wider story of 1875. Alongside the maps are vivid, life-size illustrations drawn by local artist Dan Zettwoch. They cover dozens of topics relating to life in 1875, from crime to cooking and sports to city infrastructure.

The exhibit will be closing on February 14th.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Join us Fri., July 24 for our 2nd Members & Friends of ONSLRG Happy Hour

Back by popular demand - Old North St. Louis Restoration Group will be holding another Members & Friends Happy Hour on Friday, July 24th from 4-6 p.m. at our ONSLRG Gallery, 2700 N. 14th Street. Whether or not you’re a current member or even if we don’t know you’re our friend yet, come on by to enjoy the company of others who’ve helped or are continuing to help ONSLRG revitalize the physical and social dimensions of Old North in a manner that respects the community’s historic, cultural, and urban character.

If you missed last month’s gathering, we’ve got a few photos to show what you missed - and to give you an idea of what’s on tap for this Friday.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Supporting Community Development in Old North on Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, & Giving Tuesday

Today is Small Business Saturday… please support the small businesses of Old North, including the retailers at Crown Square!

As a mixed-use community, Old North is home to many small and medium-sized businesses that employ residents of the community, attract visitors to the neighborhood, and provide valuable goods and services to residents of Old North and other neighborhoods.  The following is a list of some of the businesses and nonprofit organizations in Old North that may have items available for your purchase…

14th Street Artist Community, 2607 N. 14th Street

Better Life Cleaning Products, (to find a retailer or to buy online, visit

Blackmun Footcare, 2608 N. 14th Street

Boss Metal Fabricators, 1125 Montgomery St.

Building Futures, 2617 N. 14th Street

Central Print, 2624 N. 14th Street

Crown Candy Kitchen, 1401 St. Louis Avenue

ExKuisite Designs by Kimberly, 2611 N. 14th Street

Firecracker Press, 2612 N. 14th Street

Headhunters Barber & Beauty Shop, 2613 N. 14th Street

Kennedy’s Pet Shop, 2701 N. 14th Street

KRAV Boutique, 2717 N. 14th Street

La Mancha Coffeehouse, 2800 N. 14th Street

Marx Hardware, 2501 N. 14th Street

Northside Workshop, 1306 St. Louis Avenue

Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, 2700 N. 14th Street

Perpetua Iron Works, 2803 Blair

The Racq Salon & Spa, 2605 N. 14th Street

St. Louis ArtWorks, 2707 N. 14th Street

UrbArts (Urban Artists Alliance for Child Development), 2600 N. 14th Street

Zuka Arts Guild, 2701 N. 14th Street

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This Monday is Cyber Monday, which traditionally has been one of the biggest online shopping days of the year.  So if you’re shopping online on Monday (or any day of the year, for that matter), consider buying some Old North merchandise by clicking HERE.  ONSLRG t-shirts, mugs, and stickers make great presents!

If you want to purchase any merchandise available on Amazon, consider supporting Old North St. Louis Restoration Group by making the purchase via Amazon Smile ( and select Old North St. Louis Restoration Group as the non-profit to benefit from your purchase.  AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support ONSLRG every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at, Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization (which, we hope, is Old North St. Louis Restoration Group). On your first visit to AmazonSmile (, before you begin shopping you need to select a charitable organization - just type in “Old North St. Louis Restoration” in the search box, which will then bring up Old North St. Louis Restoration Group - and then you just click on the “select” button to designate ONSLRG as the charitable organization of your choice to receive donations from eligible purchases. Then the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. The site will remember your selection, and every eligible purchase you make at will result in a donation.

For more about the Amazon Smile Foundation, click HERE.

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But wait, there’s more!

According to

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

We’d greatly appreciate any support you could offer for ONSLRG on this Giving Tuesday.  One option for you is to click HERE or on the image below to make a financial contribution to help us continue our work of revitalizing the physical and social dimensions of the Old North neighborhood in a manner that respects the community’s historic, cultural, and urban character.

Or, you can click HERE to learn about ways you can volunteer some of your time with us.

We’d also like to know if you have any other creative ideas for helping ONSLRG continue the great progress we’ve made.  Feel free to comment here by clicking on the LEAVE A COMMENT link at the top left side of this post, or send us an email (to to let us know your idea.  As always, feel free to share this with others who might have an interest in supporting ONSLRG by clicking the envelope image with “EMAIL” under it, also at the top left side of this post.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Community Development Rocks! 3 Reasons to Go to Benefit Concert for ONSLRG on Sat., Nov. 2

November 2 is right around the corner, so get your tickets now for the Community Development Rocks! benefit concert featuring the critically acclaimed band, Five Eight, and the locally loved band, Last to Show First to Go.  Proceeds from this benefit will help Old North St. Louis Restoration Group continue the good work of revitalizing the physical and social dimensions of the Old North neighborhood in a manner that respects the community’s historic, cultural, and urban character.

If you’re wondering why you should buy as many tickets as you can afford for the Nov. 2 concert, we offer a few reasons to think about:

(1) Great music

According to NPR’s All Songs Considered, Five Eight is one of the top five bands that should be way bigger than they are.  St. Louis fans of Five Eight - and many who are just getting to know them - are excited about the rare opportunity to see the indie rock veterans in the Gateway City.  The band has agreed to travel all the way from Athens, Georgia, to perform at this benefit for ONSLRG.

Although Last to Show First to Go is a local band - which means you may have seen them before and likely will get many other opportunities to see them - it’s worth pointing out to those unfamiliar with them how good they are.  Here’s one review by Annie-Rose Fondaw on KDHX:

“On first listen, Last to Show First to Go appears to have its roots down in the landscape of heartland rock ‘n’ roll. Lead singer Bredon Jones’ earnest, earthy vocals lie simply against a backdrop of acoustic guitar, drums and vocal harmonies, all bolstered by a double bass. Yet as each song unfolds, it’s clear that Last to Show First to Go has a flair for genre-bending. From Jay Lewis’ rippling cello arpeggios to Miriam Keller’s jazz-infused trumpet, the band embraces a wide variety of sounds and textures. And lo and behold, they pull it off. What could easily veer into a trite modernization of the down-home Americana genre instead becomes a singular, engaging sound.”

(2) A Really Cool Venue

Plush, located at 3224 Locust between Compton and Grand, has earned a reputation as one of the hippest, hottest, coolest (or whatever term you’d use for the highest level of a positive experience) venues for food, drink, and live music in St. Louis.  One recent review on Yelp described Plush as “as good at it gets,” while a review in the Riverfrtont Times last year was headlined, “Plush is the most ambitious drinking, dining and dance establishment St. Louis has seen in a decade.”  Get your tickets now to check out Plush in person on Saturday, Nov. 2.  And, if you can get there for dinner before the concert, be sure to mention that you’re there for the Community Development Rocks! concert to get a special deal on the meal.

The photo above is by Kate McDonald from St. Louis Magazine’s 2012 “A List” issue, which included Plush among their “Night Life” awards in the “Dinner and Dance” category.

(3) And, of course, a chance to support a Great Cause

When you support ONSLRG, you support the cause of urban core revitalization implemented in a manner that respects the community that lives there.  The best way to respect the community is to pursue their vision and to involve them in the process of making that vision a reality.  That’s what ONSLRG has been doing since it was created by residents of Old North in 1981.  Everything ONSLRG does is rooted in a desire expressed by community residents.  That’s why ONSLRG has taken on…

the preservation of historic properties - from small, single-family homes to to multi-family, rental buildings to large, institutional buildings, such as the Mullanphy Emigrant Home…

coordinating a farmers’ market in the heart of Old North since 2007 to bring healthy & affordable foods to the neighborhood…

Hosting theater, film, photography exhibits, and other arts programming…

Beautifying Old North through tree-planting, community gardens, supporting other green investments, and regular neighborhood-wide clean-up days

Improving neighborhood safety by establishing a police substation at Crown Square, hosting neighborhood watch trainings, and coordinating implementation of the City’s “Neighborhood Ownership Model”…

Bringing residents together regularly to plan, discuss, and review ideas or proposals for development in Old North…

Plus, all sorts of community-building social events, and so much more!

In addition to supporting ONSLRG by buying concert tickets, you can also buy raffle tickets at the concert or before!  ONSLRG’s tireless intern, Chris Umbertino, has lined up some phenomenal prizes for a raffle drawing that will take place at the concert.  See the flyer below for details.

Raffle tickets will be sold at the concert, but you can also purchase them in advance - either in person at the ONSLRG office or online. Just follow the link below for online contributions - and make a contribution along WITH a note in the comments/special instructions or other notes section to alert us that the purpose is for raffle tickets in your name.

We’d love to get as many people out to Plush on November 2 as we can get to support ONSLRG and to show our appreciation for the generosity of Five Eight, Last to Show First to Go, and Plush; and we’d love it if you could purchase a large pile of raffle tickets as a way of letting the prize donors know their contributions were worth it.  However, we also are willing to accept good, old-fashioned direct contributions straight to Old North St. Louis Restoration Group.  We can accept contributions in whatever form you’d like to send us:  cash (please not through the mail, though); checks (which can be dropped off at our office or sent by mail to 2700 N. 14th Street, St. Louis, MO 63106); or by credit or debit card - either in person at our office or online via PayPal by clicking HERE now or by clicking on the image below.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

ONSLRG Launches “Brickstarter” Crowdfunding Campaign for 1316 North Market

by Matt Fernandez, Community Development Specialist

We’re working to save this great beauty owned by Old North Saint Louis Restoration Group from the never relenting effects of gravity, but we need your help!

Vacant since 1990, this building is already a survivor. Formerly owned by the City of St. Louis Land Reutilization Authority, ONSLRG bought this building along with eight other vacant and deteriorated buildings in 2009. Three of these properties have been sold and have been, or are in the process of being renovated, and five have been stabilized and secured by ONSLRG for future rehab. For more information on properties owned by ONSLRG, please contact us at or 314-241-5031.

When acquired from LRA, this building was reserved for redevelopment and did not see immediate stabilization work, although it was secured properly and the grass and weeds are cut.  Unfortunately, financing did not work out due to the tightening of financial markets during the “Great Recession.”  The “Macho Action Group” of Old North St. Louis Restoration Group has done some work on the building, but much more work is needed.

While much of the history of this building is not known, early residents of the home were the Meinholtz family, St. Louis natives who owned or co-owned the property from around 1910 to the 1940’s. Herman C. Meinholtz was the son of German immigrants and was the Vice President and superintendent of Heine Safety Boiler Company.  Both Herman and his son Herbert attended Washington University and studied engineering.

As this 2005 photo shows, the building at 1316 North Market was surrounded by vacant lots that were barely maintained.

By 2007, new homes had been constructed on the 1300 block of North Market as part of the North Market Place new homes development that brought new families to this block of Old North for the first time in many years.

Renderings have been prepared of how the building could appear after a full renovation.

Today, the building sits as a still largely intact structure on the exterior, but the interior has suffered extreme water damage and needs to be fully rebuilt. Some areas of floor have completely collapsed to the basement. In addition, the brick walls have suffered varying degrees of damage from water and shifting, and will need to be rebuilt in some sections. While this may sound like a lot of work, this building is in no worse condition than many other buildings that have been completely rebuilt from the ground up as part of many projects in Old North St. Louis. For example, take a look at the Mullanphy Emigrant Home.

In the photo below, the Mullanphy Emigrant Home is severely storm-damaged and only held up by emergency shoring.

After major stabilization and rebuilding work that was funded by donations and volunteer labor, the walls are rebuilt and the building is sound again.

There are countless other examples of buildings rebuilt from the ground up all around Old North completed by ONSLRG and private individuals. A never give up attitude is contagious around here.

Rebuilding and preserving the building at 1316 North Market is important to help retain a sense of place on this block of North Market. Old North St. Louis has a history dating back to 1816. Incorporating the past along with new construction creates a sense of distinct place that keeps Old North a unique neighborhood that is proud of its urban past, and looks forward to a sustainable future.

With this post, we are launching a “Brickstarter” campaign. Donations of any type to Old North Saint Louis Restoration Group (cash, materials, dumpsters, labor) would be immensely helpful and are fully tax-deductible. We have already gathered donations of sand, masonry cement, a small amount of lumber, and use of scaffolding. In addition, Red Dot Studios has generously offered pro bono architecture services to design a stabilization and rebuilding program for attaining any necessary permits. However, we still need a lot of cash, materials, and labor. The total cost for a full renovation of this building could approach $400,000. However, substantially less is needed for a proper stabilization, and that is mostly for the cost of materials. Depending on the level of donations, different forms of stabilization can be achieved from a range of $5000- $50,000. $25,000 is the goal we are shooting for.  Of course, better forms of stabilization will cost more, but will make the eventual full renovation easier to complete.

Donations can be made online at via paypal (Click the donate button below), by check (made payable to “Old North Rehab Properties LLC” and mailed to 2700 N. 14th Street, St. Louis, MO 63106), or by cash in person.  If you would like to make a donation of materials, please contact us at or 314-241-5031. No offer is too small, and please share this with your friends!

Surrounded by new life, this red brick beauty deserves a second chance!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Streets, Trails, History, Art and Community in Old North

Over the next couple days, the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group Gallery at 2700 N. 14th Street will be buzzing with activity and conversations about different pieces of the overall community revitalization in progress and planned for Old North.  Although art exhibitions and plans for street improvements may not seem to have a lot of overlap, Old North is the kind of place where residents can be passionate and engaged in discussions about streets and trails on one day and turn out in force the next day to support an arts initiative or an exhibit in a gallery here.  On Thursday and Friday of this week, we’ll get a chance to see all of that in action as Great Rivers Greenway and Missouri Immigrant & Refugee Advocates hold different events in our gallery.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 4 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

The latest plans for improving Branch Street will be on display for review and comment as Great Rivers Greenway brings maps, drawings, and planners out to the community in an open house style of event at the ONSLRG gallery on Thursday from 4-6:30 p.m.  Branch Street is one of the few ways to directly access the Riverfront Trail from a residential neighborhood in the City.  Over the past couple years, ONSLRG has worked closely with GRG, the city, Trailnet, and other partners to develop plans to clean up, beautify and increase safety along that corridor.  The event on Thursday will be a chance for more neighbors - especially those who  haven’t been able to participate in earlier discussions - to get in on this ongoing process.

Information will also be on hand about the current status and future phases of the Trestle project, which will connect the southeastern portion of Old North to the Riverfront Trail via the transformation of the long-abandoned railroad trestle into an elevated hiking and biking trail.

Since both Branch Street plans and the Trestle project represent significant investments in Old North and great recreational amenities for residents of the neighborhood and visitors alike, please spread the word and invite other neighbors to come on out to learn more - and have their voices heard.


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

With Old North’s rich history of welcoming immigrants into the community from its earliest days through the present and with the character of the neighborhood constantly evolving as a result of these new residents’ contributions, there should be a lot of local interest in a new exhibition opening in our gallery on Friday evening.  Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates will once again bring an exhibition to our gallery that puts a spotlight on the immigrant experience in St. Louis.  This year’s exhibit will include work by local New American photographers Juan Montana and Amelia Sinangic, along with historical photos from multiple archives, as curated by Danny Gonzales of the Missouri Historical Society.

The opening reception for the exhibit will take place at our gallery on Friday evening from 6 until 9 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public.  Please join us and invite your neighbors to come along with you.

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.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Comeback Cards and Old North Have a Lot in Common

Wow!  Unbelievable!

Those one word exclamations have been flying all over the blogosphere, facebook postings, tweets, and even on the pages of good, old-fashioned print publications. Yes, that represents a good summary of the Cardinals phenomenal resilience and determination to avoid elimination in the roller coaster ride of Game 6 – and throughout the latter part of the 2011 season and each round of the playoffs.  But those words also have been used recently to describe the incredible, skeptic-defying rebirth of Old North St. Louis, or as some have called it, “the little neighborhood that could.”

As dramatic and thrilling as Game 6 was, there still is some work to be done.  The Cardinals fought against setbacks and long odds to turn things around, but the World Championship trophy has yet to be won.  And Old North isn’t quite there yet, either.  Many outsiders doubted that Old North’s transformation was possible - and many others counted the neighborhood out long ago.  But over the past few years, we’ve turned a lot of skeptics into believers.  Whether it’s the stabilization and preservation of the severely damaged Mullanphy Emigrant Home building; the phenomenal redevelopment of historic buildings that had been crumbling into the street along Monroe, North Market, Hebert, Blair, or N. 14th Street; the establishment of a community-owned grocery store; or the extraordinary 28% increase in population over the past decade, the evidence is there to demonstrate Old North’s capacity to overcome long odds and achieve results that previously had been deemed absurd or impossible.

Despite the great progress achieved in recent years, Old North St. Louis Restoration Group still has a lot of challenges to tackle.  In fact, because the bar of what is possible has been raised, we’re busier than ever with a range of initiatives focused on revitalizing Old North, from operating the Old North Grocery Co-op to assisting others in finding apartments to live in, properties to rehab, or homes to purchase in Old North.

Ironically, just as we have more and more evidence of the amazing returns on previous investments, the funding to carry out this work has been getting harder to secure.  Due to economic hardships among some of our regular funders (including both individual and corporate contributors), reductions in funding from some previously committed sources (such as a 14.5% cut in our grant from the Community Development Administration as a result of federal block grant cuts), and the lag time between approval of some grants and delivery of funds (including a $25,000 grant which has been approved but won’t arrive until December at the earliest), ONSLRG’s operating funds are incredibly tight at the moment.

As the Cardinals have demonstrated, success requires team effort - and sometimes it means getting help from unlikely sources.  If you’d like to help Old North St. Louis Restoration Group continue Old North’s dramatic comeback story, we have a few ways for you to pitch in:

1) Make a tax-deductible contribution to ONSLRG right now by clicking HERE.

2) Refer us to any contacts you might have with any corporate charitable funds or foundations with an interest in community development, historic preservation, healthy food access, community gardens, social outreach, and almost anything else related to neighborhood sustainability.

3) Spread the word about Old North’s revitalization to people who haven’t heard about it yet, by sending a link to this blog, our website, ONSLRG’s facebook page, our Twitter account - or by bringing them into Old North for lunch at one of our fine eating establishments or to shop at the Old North Grocery Co-op, or to purchase something at one of Crown Square’s retailers, such as Therapy Boutique, Closet Repeats, or Rambles Gift Gallery & Boutique.

4) Volunteer to assist with our fundraising committee or to help plan a future fundraising event.


5 Fill in the blank with your own ideas _____________________________.

For more information about any of the above options, feel free to give us a call at 314-241-5031 or send a message to

In the meantime, on behalf of St. Louis City’s comeback neighborhood, we tip our caps to baseball’s comeback team of the year.  GO CARDS!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Trivia Night Benefit for Mullanphy Hostel Plans - Jan. 15

This past year has been incredibly busy on many fronts, but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about the preservation of the Mullanphy Emigrant Home - or plans for its eventual full development.  Moving beyond that initial stabilization and buttoning up stage takes a bit of planning and feasibility assessments - and all of that costs money too.  So, to help us with that next step, you can support this great cause and the plan to establish and develop a world-class hostel at the Mullanphy Emigrant Home by coming out to the “sort of annual” Friends of Hostelling trivia night on Friday, January 15, 2010.

To register in advance, follow the instructions at  Feel free to print and distribute the following flyer for the event to all of your trivia-minded friends and/or everyone you know who cares about preserving our irreplaceable historic, cultural, and architectural landmarks.

a table of Mullanphy supporters at last year's trivia night.

a table of Mullanphy supporters at last year's trivia night

With just a few days left in 2009, you can still make a tax-deductible contribution to Old North St. Louis Restoration Group to support the preservation of Mullanphy or any of our other work to revitalize the physical and social dimensions of Old North St. Louis in a manner that respects the community’s historic, cultural and urban character.  To make an online donation, just CLICK HERE


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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