TOURING Soulard Settler's Cottage (Restoration by the Landmarks Association) | This House Tours

TOURING Soulard Settler's Cottage (Restoration by the Landmarks Association) | This House Tours

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hi everyone my name is ken welcome to this house  today we are in the soulard neighborhood of st   louis missouri with andrew weil of the landmarks  association andrew why don't you tell us why we're   here today and a little bit about yourself my  name is andrew weil as you said i'm the executive   director of landmarks association of st louis we  are an historic preservation advocacy organization   that was founded in 1958 to help to protect uh the  historic architecture of st louis and to educate   people about what an amazing architectural history  we have here and what a what a great economic   and cultural resource it is so um we are here  at a building that our organization is currently   rehabbing as our new office space uh gallery  classroom and our architectural library space   very excited about it it's a property that was  donated to us in 2019 and we've been working on   on on rehabbing it since then but really the the  rehab's been moving since the spring of 2021.   this building had been vacant uh since about  1979 and the facade was not properly tied   into the building we had to rebuild this facade  this is the one aspect of the building that   we had to completely rebuild was not salvageable  and it was a major public safety hazard so   um you can see over here we did our best to  match the brick we actually had to we ordered   pallets of brick and then hand sorted them to make  sure that we got the most consistent red brick   um that you know fit in with the neighborhood and  fit in with the age of the building but we had to   tooth it in here and you can see the the joint  where the where the new the new material joins   the the older material so the primary elevation  was completely rebuilt but it was rebuilt to match   a photograph that we have we're so fortunate  to have a photograph from approximately 1896   i think it's just before the tornado came through  and i believe that this building was damaged by   the 1896 tornado looking at the map of that path  and then also looking at some of the structural   things where like the elevation this elevation  was rebuilt using a mix of exterior and interior   wide brick so high fired brick and soft fired  brick which my theory is that after the tornado   they probably just went around and picked up  bricks from the buildings that were destroyed   you know piloted those up and rebuilt repaired  this building using that resulting in a mix   of bricks which was unfortunately unsustainable  lasted for a century actually lasted for a hundred   you know 20-something years but um it reached the  end of its lifespan unfortunately and it's amazing   that you guys have been able to reconstruct this  so perfectly because looking at this old photo   side by side with this building you can really see  the attention to detail that's gone into this and   how true to its original character you've been i  thank you that's a that's nice to hear um we're   working very diligently to do that as a advocate  for historic preservation in st louis we have to   and appreciate the uh the standards that that  are in place for different historic districts   andrew that's just absolutely amazing  and i know we're all dying to go see   what's inside of here what do you say we start  checking it out let's check it out all right okay welcome to the courtyard now we are in the courtyard of this building and  early life here would have looked very different   than what we're used to in today's culture  so what would this space have been used for   so this was a very very very dense neighborhood  which you know you've got alley houses here   still intact and people are trying to  use as much space as they possibly can   and there just aren't enough it's a real housing  crisis there just aren't enough buildings   and then of course everyone is cooking  using coal or wood fuel and it's just a   very chaotic environment you've got  people push carts on the street and   knife sharpeners and scissor sharpeners walking up  and down the alley you've got rag pickers you've   got horses you've got people driving pigs  to the market i mean everything you could   possibly imagine very very chaotic on the street  so these interior courtyards were really sites   where a lot of the daily activity of life took  place especially in the summertime when it was   when it was too hot to be inside so um there would  have been laundry lines out here people drying   their clothes there would have been a cistern  possibly a well there was definitely a privy   which is on the or out you know outdoor toilet  which is in the corner over there uh which is on   the sanborn fire insurance map typical in fact the  1947 civic league plan shows that um still in 1947   almost 80 percent of the buildings in the soulard  neighborhood were still using exterior toilets   so no indoor plumbing in that case so um  but anyway a lot of people here there were   up to 30 people as far as i can tell looking  at city directories living in this complex   at one time by the late 19th century so probably  cooking activities we found evidence out here   i'm an archaeologist by by training and we've done  some archaeological just sort of investigation of   the cellar and when they stripped up the bricks  out here there's oyster shell there's butchered   pig bone pig teeth lamp glass given the age of the  buildings probably whale oil lamps from the 1840s   1850s you know that that sort of stuff and that  would have been quite the sight to see and i bet   it would have been really smelly as well with all  of those animals and people and outdoor toilets   it just really helps to paint the picture of  what life would have been like in the 1800s   and how people kind of lived in these communities  so you're doing something really special out here   as far as i know you're putting in a glass atrium  here as a reception area and then there's going   to be classrooms can you tell us a little bit  about this vision yeah absolutely um so while   we're attempting to do a very faithful restoration  and rehabilitation of the property the entryway   is going to be the one modern component which will  be a glass glass framed reception area over here   to my right other than that we're doing our best  to completely restore the building we've removed   the windows and the doors that were salvageable  and are having them refinished and restored the   ones that were not salvageable were replicating  we're restoring the the portion of the the balcony   up here the second floor access um to what is now  going to be the library area um so we're doing as   best as we can to uh to to bring this thing back  to our understanding of the original building   we are however adapting it for new use this  was a residential building originally and was   from the 1840s 1850s up through about 1979 1980  now we are converting it for our use as a as a   non-profit organization for our architectural  library which is open to the public   for a classroom space and a gallery space where  we host school you know school programs and   continuing continuing education program just about  to teach people about the architectural history   and you know the amazing things that we have here  in singles that's fantastic and let's go ahead and   peek inside of what will be the classroom to get  to the classroom we're going to cut back across   the courtyard and off to this side of me is the  mouse hole where we first entered the courtyard   space so let's pass on through here and this  brings us into what will become the classroom   space now andrew right off the bat there's just  some amazing details that catch my eye we can see   the peeling wallpaper on this old fireplace and  can you tell us a little bit about this yeah so   we've salvaged what we can there's multiple  layers you can actually see two of two layers   here this is clearly 19th century wallpaper it  is cloth-based actually um they used to sort of   collect rags and crush that up rather than  paper-based wallpaper this is a cloth-based   wallpaper we are we're saving that in addition  to a lot of other original details that we find   as we move along for for teaching purposes  there's so much here that we can use as a   sort of living classroom and bring people in  and show them into the walls and show them   into the materials that we've found show them the  archaeological materials and talk to people about   not only the architecture but the the way people  lived in the mid 19th century when this was a home   that's incredible and there are some other  things in this room as you mentioned out front   the structure kind of had to be re-braced and  re-supported and we can see that over here how   you've resupported these bricks so what is this  material that you have between the walls here   this is the inside of the front elevation all the  other walls in the complex are original historic   but this is the one that was falling into the  street and was was just completely falling apart   so what we've done is we've used a cmu concrete  masonry unit commonly known as concrete block   put that up took the wall down put the block  up braced the interior with a steel beam and   columns had to pour a new floor in the basement  in order to take the weight of of this and then   faced the concrete block with carefully  selected modern brick salvage brick was not   really an option for this and it's kind  of complicated because salvage brick   comes from all too often buildings that are being  stolen and all too often in north st louis and all   too often is a hodgepodge of interior and exterior  wide brick which was part of the major problem   with the front wall to begin with so we opted  for a new brick just to ensure that this building   could take the structural requirements that we  needed and last another 150 years now there are a   few other things in the space that really catch my  attention and i'm very curious about so as we look   up at the ceiling these joists are all different  sizes and they're incredibly textured can you tell   me kind of what this is all about yeah so this is  a building that predates dimensional lumber really   so they were kind of working with what was  available at the mill and the mill was producing   things you know that that people asked for and  and that they had the resources to produce so   um these there's three floor joists here that you  can clearly see and they're all different widths   so this is pre sort of standardized 2x4  construction but yeah it's a this is this is   why i invited you guys here really was because  you're always looking at these beautiful homes   and they're finished and they're they're wonderful  but a lot of this type of technology is what's   inside the walls you know this is going behind  the behind the scenes of what goes into putting   one of these great great buildings back together  of course as we've been doing these tours we   come across all of these older homes that have  three wides of brick between the walls and this   is kind of what that looks like of course  this is only two wides and this predates   those fire codes that came in the later part of  the 1800s but we can get a pretty good idea of   what the interiors of a lot of those walls that  we've seen actually look like without their   lather plaster on them considering that the one  of the main objects of this of this project is to   show people how these buildings are constructed  and the technologies that go into them especially   the really old stuff this is all clearly hand  pressed brick it's not the nice hydraulic   you know standardized you know super dense heavy  strong strong brick this is hand pressed brick   and you know it's obvious in the irregularities  and also unfortunately the the softness of it   let's get a closer look at this so that you all  can see exactly what we're talking about here i wish i had a hydraulic machine press to compare  it with but you can see the irregularities in the   cracking it's still a very very good material but  it has to be protected from water and hopefully   with the work you're doing here we will see  this building preserved for hundreds if not   a thousand years longer well yeah yes absolutely  and that's our goal and and these buildings are   wonderful masonry buildings in st louis can last  for hundreds and hundreds of years um it's just a   matter of maintaining them and loving them and  taking that sort of long view um that as long   as we love these neighborhoods and these buildings  that they'll they'll be here and continue to serve   current and future generations amazing so what  do you say we keep exploring please okay so   making our way out of the classroom we now come to  what's going to be that reception area and behind   me here there's going to be stairs that run up  right well behind me actually oh behind you okay   you're standing right now in what's going to be a  glass atrium primary entrance to the to the main   facility with reception here and then a stair to  the second floor and that's kind of an interesting   point because these two this building the first  and second floor originally had no internal   communication there were two housing units on  the first floor and two on the second floor   the first floor ones were set were accessed by by  their own doors and the second floor ones you had   to come through the through the little map alley  mouse hole and then go up an exterior staircase   and access those two units up there so we we had  to create a new way of accessing the library on   the second floor and that's why in fact we had  to create this sort of glass atrium space in   order to buy us steal ourselves enough space to  to make it accessible up there it's incredible   and you know i got to tell you i'm dying to see  what's on the other side of this passageway so   let's go all right as we make our way deeper into  this house we start to see these details emerge so   of course i'm standing in an old doorway and this  is nearly 20 inches thick right here and instead   of the wires of brick that we're used to seeing  constructed inside of these homes this is actually   stone and we can see that if we just glance  over here underneath these windows you can see   the stone that would be packed between these walls  as we make our way down andrew there is something   really interesting here how this has been braced  can you tell us a little bit about this technology   yeah so um the south wall of this building was  was also bowing pretty pretty badly like the the   east wall but rather than reconstructing  that we determined that we could just sort of   tie it into place and just keep it from going any  further and you know have a secure system without   complete reconstruction over there um so what we  have this is this sort of internal engineering and   this is not a new system whenever you see stars  on the sides of our historic brick buildings   those are tie rod ends these are essentially  tie rods uh that are going through the wall   tying into the the larger structure and then  there's a bolt on the exterior and a plate   which historically would have been one of those  stars and so that that tie rod goes through the   wall into the interior structure and gets bolted  together to keep that wall from falling back out   also on this wall behind you is a fireplace  now this is not necessarily a style that we've   encountered before what can you tell me about  this so this is like very simple classical revival   detailing wooden mantelpiece this is going to  be our reading room for bringing materials down   from the library for people to study down  here but this is a wood-burning fireplace   and what we believe to be original  mid-19th century 1850s 1860s surround here   i think it's really interesting that it's a wood  burning fireplace though because you know coal   had really taken over as the main heating source  for for lots of reasons later in the 19th century   but when this building was built there was still  enough wood around that people were still using   it for cooking and for heating purposes which that  situation just completely evaporated as everything   was logged off for fuel from everything for this  the steamboats to building the metropolis to   cutting fuel for the giant lead and iron  furnaces out you know further in in missouri   and also then later for logging off for railroad  ties and things like that for the expansion of   the of the railroad system so to me this is a  really cool detail um that it is a wood-burning   fireplace and that speaks to the age of of the  home that there was still sufficient wood supply   for people very humble means to be able  to access wood as a fuel which became a   total luxury much much later so this house  would have been one of the earlier homes in this   neighborhood still surrounded by a lot of trees  before everything just became brick and pavement   the stone cottage that we have here predates 1847.  of course there's no building permits at that time   but looking at the technology  that's involved the limited   documentary evidence that we have and other things  like geographic information the building faces to   the north it faces soulard street so soulard  and lafayette were paths to the market which   had been on in operation since the 18th century  but there was no ninth street when this property   was constructed when these stone this stone house  that we're in right now was constructed the only   street that was right here was hula street to the  north so they oriented it to the north instead of   what we now know as the main sort of thoroughfare  that would have made more sense for this property   just to imagine the neighborhood and the city  transforming and evolving throughout the years   all the way to the point where a building that  existed here long before what we can see outside   is considered to be disoriented to its street and  that's why we call it the soulard settlers cottage   project because this was a home that was out here  in land that was not divided it was not subdivided   and was not occupied by this dense urban  neighborhood that we know today it predated   all of that one of the theories about  why this original stone building was here   is because people owned wealthy people owned these  vast tracts of land around the city that we now   know as urban dense urban neighborhoods but back  then they would use them for gathering firewood   they would run their cattle on  them they would run their hogs on   you know they would collect stone on them they  would you know just sort of take advantage of   the natural resources that were there so they  have to send their workers out there to do that   so they would build small cottages shacks log  cabins in this case perhaps a small stone house   so that when the workers went out to to work  that land they didn't have to walk or drag   things all the way back into st louis every day  they could stay out here for a week or two weeks   get what you know get the project done and then  go back all the way back to st louis from sular   so with all of this history in mind we can really  start to see these rooms come back to life as we   imagine the workers who would come out here and  after a hard day's work they just needed a place   to lay their head and take shelter and andrew  i'm seeing some really interesting distinctions   in the types of stone that are on the walls here  in front of us do you mind if we go around to the   outside and take a closer look at these yeah good  eye all right let's head on out there now crossing   back into the courtyard and of course once this  project's completed you'll be able to travel room   to room inside but for now we're going to walk out  here now this is the stone that we just saw from   the inside of this room and as we travel past  this we are now going to get to the older stone   and here is a good spot where we can really see a  clear difference between the two types of stones   and andrew is right over here what can you tell  us about all of this well my reading of this is   that this you can see the seam here this butt  joint between the two sides of the stone walls   my reading is that this is the original stone  cottage uh one window one door one story   no brick um and then this section this stone  section here was added on later would have   transitioned probably into a two-room one-story  stone cottage uh and then as the resources became   available and its brick production ramped up and  the city became a little bit more established   they would have taken off that second floor  built the first you know building on ninth street   added the second floor to this tied the two  properties together and then built the alley house   oh that's incredible so we've seen all the entire  first floor are we ready to go see the upstairs   yeah absolutely i'm sure all right let's head on  up there and before we make our way all the way up   the steps i want to point out this amazing detail  so come over here and take a closer look at this   we can actually see the horse hair that's  coming out of the original horsehair plaster as we arrive at the top of the steps we are  now released into the space and andrew what   is this room going to be used for uh this  room and the room next to us are going to be   office space and a restroom behind you you can see  the original or at least historic window frames   again with those uh those pediments that you saw  on the first floor those were being refinished the   windows the six over six light windows that were  original that were in these um in these openings   and these bays are out and being refinished  they were in good enough shape to be able to   refinish those so yeah it's a there's a there's  a crazy attic space above us which is going to be   mostly just for storage it's not big enough to  stand in or really used for functional space   but some of the systems are going in there and  storage space so this will be office restroom   office it'll be sort of a you know hallway along  here and then of course this fireplace again   you've got the original sort of very subtle  classical revival fireplace simple i mean   it's all wood you know there's no marble there's  there's no slate the way you see in later homes   humble again wood burning hearth here on  the second floor which will be restored   the other hearts in the building or the other  mantle hardware other mantle casing is going to be   replicated uh based on the the ones that we still  have here that's going to be absolutely incredible   to see now there's another detail in this room  that i'm noticing the transom that's above that   door and it's hardware are those both original  pieces i believe so there's certainly there's   there's historic and then there's original right  so they're definitely historic they are in the   historic photograph that we have those three light  transoms and that's what we're either replicating   or refinishing for the primary elevation in this  case uh we should we're in a position where we can   the ones that were on the primary facade are gone  long one but we know they were there because of   the photograph so we'll be removing them from this  door which is going away because of the atrium   and reinstall that in the front over the  the primary entrance also everyone let's   take a closer look at this we can see how the  plaster is actually floating over the brick wall   and this is just a really good chance for us to  see how these two materials kind of play on each   other and how they're connected so let's just take  a closer look at all of this before we move on moving along we now come to the landing which  is over that reception area that we saw on the   first floor and andrew i'm very curious to learn  about this because it almost looks like there used   to be a fireplace here there was you can see it  in the floor this was a total chimney collapse   from the attic level all the way down that had to  be rebuilt so we rebuilt it on the inside using   concrete block and then skinned it on the exterior  with uh salvaged historic brick from from the   property now we're passing further in and we're  finally terminating in what will be the library   and andrew this is just looking incredible in here  can you tell us a little bit more about the vision   well so this this will be our architectural  research library um because i mentioned before   the organization's been around for more than 60  years and we have a large collection of materials   that are really dedicated to doing research on  historic architecture in st louis particularly   in st louis city and as a non-profit organization  sharing that information with the public is a   critical part of our mission so it's not  a large library it's not a large space but   it's got a lot of really interesting  stuff and for people who are interested   in this specific niche of history and and  research um it's a great resource i i think so   this will be primarily stacks there'll be some  workspaces up here and then ideally people will   be able to get in touch with us ahead of time we  can bring things down to the reading room but of   course people would be welcome to come up here  as well so between now and the time that this   is finished is there a way that people can get  involved or help out in any way yeah absolutely   landmarks association is a non-profit organization  in st louis we derive a lot of our funding for our   for our efforts preserving historic architecture  from membership um so i would encourage people   if they if they support this project if they  support the idea that st louis has amazing   historic architecture and and needs an advocate a  dedicated advocate for for preserving this stuff   to consider joining landmarks or making a donation  through our website which is landmarks dash   stl.org perfect and everybody go ahead and find  the link to that website down in the description   i really hope that you enjoyed this tour  and i'll see you next time on this house you

2021-11-10 15:38

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