Adds Michael Allen, the assistant director of Landmarks Association and a prolific urbanist blogger ( "Olive Street will now get a lot of money and investment because of its historic-district status. Washington Boulevard won't get any. This piecemeal approach to preservation is upsetting."

Preservationists wish St. Louis would adopt a policy of wholesale demolition review, under which any property owner who wanted to demolish a building would have to seek permission from the city. As it stands, aldermen can "opt in" or "opt out" of "preservation review," the set of processes by which city employees and a board of appointed officials deem whether a building can be altered or demolished.

St. Louis' system is not unlike those of New Orleans, Baltimore, Cincinnati and other similar-size municipalities, though preservation experts say there is a new and growing trend toward wholesale demolition review.

Bowood Farms is visible behind the rubble.
Jennifer Silverberg
Bowood Farms is visible behind the rubble.

Currently in St. Louis, nineteen city wards "opt in"; Kennedy's ward is one of the nine — most of which are located on the north side — that "opt out." (For a map, visit and click on the option to display with "Preservation Review.")

Demolition of 4608 Washington Boulevard commenced a week after the preservation board determined it had no jurisdiction over the house.

Built between 1890 and 1910, with a brick façade and a steep, dormered roof, the house — like many on its block — was an intermingling of architectural styles, from Renaissance Revival to Georgian. McPheeters says he purchased it from a woman whose extended family had lived there for several decades.

"There was water damage, mold, most of the windows were rotten and the interior doors had multiple locks on them which were beyond repair — you name it," McPheeters enumerates, noting that he and the wrecking company have plans to recycle much of the lumber and bricks for use in other projects.

"I'm a strong supporter of saving worthy historic buildings," the nursery owner adds. "But you have to look at the local circumstances of each one."

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