Midcentury Modern Hotel or Parking Lot in St. Louis?


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Designed by Charles Colbert, the de Ville Motor Hotel (foreground) could be torn down for a parking lot.

Credit: Landmarks Association of St. Louis

In St. Louis, a midcentury modern hotel designed by Charles Colbert could be torn down for a parking lot.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis, which owns the 1963 building, asked its tenants to vacate the San Luis Apartments last year so it can build a surface parking lot.

"This is a very prominent site, and everyone feels that this is not the best use for the site," says Bill Seibert, a neighbor and member of the board of the Landmarks Association of St. Louis, which has included the motel on its 11 most endangered list, to be announced next month.

"There are a lot of people are against [the demolition plan]," says Lindsey Derrington, researcher at the Landmarks Association.

Colbert, a modern architect who was the dean of Columbia's school of architecture, is perhaps best known for his 1954 New Orleans elementary school, which was damaged during Hurricane Katrina. He designed the 226-room de Ville Motor Hotel with an exterior of concrete panels that contained a sparkling quartz crystal aggregate.

Holiday Inn bought the E-shaped motel in 1966, and the archdiocese bought it years later and repurposed the building as senior housing. Since it's located in a historic district, the archdiocese must follow city guidelines for a demolition permit.

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Submitted by DF at: August 20, 2009
I recently moved to the St. Louis area, originally from the Chicago area. St. Louis is a wonderful city, and even the remaining architecture is impressive. Despite the gaps and teardowns, one has a feeling they have "arrived" somewhere. That said, I was in the Central West End today and noticed this hotel is being leveled. I am very disappointed.

Submitted by Preservationist at: March 5, 2009
Tearing a builting down is never worth the cost it takes to do so. If you rehab the site not only does the city of St. Louis still receive the tax money off the site, it also does not lower the already deminishing property value. Keep the building, rehab the site bringing jobs back to St. Louis, and keep the tax dollars going to city that needs it.

Submitted by stl-designer at: May 10, 2008
While I agree with brickhugger that it is a surprise that the Trust noticed this building while allowing demolition of the Century - I am glad that they are recognizing this project as endangered. I don't agree with "average at best" - not all worthwhile architecture has to be brick and built before 1920 or built to look like a bulding that was built before 1920. Why not highlight mid-century design so that we can learn to appreciate it. I don't understand why St. Louis feels the need for replacing buidings with parking lots (or parking garages)! What a waste it would be to demolish this building. And shame on the Archdiocese for not understanding the importance of the built enviroment.

Submitted by brickhugger at: April 30, 2008
While a surface parking lot is NOT desireable at this site, this building is average at best, particularly in contrast to its immediate neighbors. Moreover I have trouble with the National Trust's interest in this site, given how they gave a St. Louis developer tax credits to demolish a historic building and replace it with a parking garage. Did you think we would forget?

Submitted by Pat at: April 28, 2008
Good luck. I hope you save the building. It will be a long and hard project but a worthwhile one.

Submitted by Robert at: April 23, 2008
DEFINITELY worth saving!!! How can a parking lot serve the needs of the Archdiocese better than HOUSING for the elderly?