A Preservation Plan for St. Louis

Part II:  Property Types

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A property type is a group of buildings or structures that are similar to one another in use, and in form or architectural style. Through a compilation of St. Louis property types and their associated historic contexts, we have attempted to provide a firm base for succeeding phases of this Preservation Plan; to assess what we know and, more importantly, what we do not know about the history, culture and the built environment of St. Louis. It is imperative that such a study be undertaken prior to the commencement of any serious planning effort, for without it we cannot hope to make appropriate decisions about the future of our historic resources.

The following section in no way is intended to be a comprehensive or exhaustive catalogue of the City's architecture: rather it is a synthesis of our existing knowledge of St. Louis' historic buildings. This section will be augmented and updated in later phases of the plan, as additional property types are located and evaluated.

Many property types once common in the City no longer exist, or are not yet identified. Although the Landmarks Association surveyed a substantial portion of St. Louis in the 1980's, many significant areas have never been subjected to intensive, systematic survey, and it is entirely possible that buildings of the earlier periods may still exist. In the three periods, we discuss only those property types of which we have been able to find examples. Documentation of lost buildings is in many instances vague or nonexistent, and our object has been to produce an assessment of remaining historic resources, rather than a comprehensive history of St. Louis architecture.

The analysis of City property types has been arranged chronologically for ease of interpretation; the periods selected because they seemed clearly distinguishable eras with individualistic architectural forms. However, it should be noted that the three periods, the Walking City; the Victorian City; and the World's Fair City, are not absolute; the appearance of specific property types had no clearly defined end or beginning, and in some instances extended through several periods.

The property types which follow are organized in three slightly different ways, based upon the defining characteristic of each type. Residential buildings, by far the most numerous, are divided into vernacular and high-style categories Vernacular buildings are discussed on the basis of their form: the number of rooms; their arrangement; the number of stories. High-style buildings, on the other hand, are arranged according to their architectural style, since that is their primary identifiable attribute. Finally, non-residential buildings and structures are grouped first according to their use, and secondly, by their architectural style.

NOTE: in each property type category, certain terms used to describe features of the buildings may be unfamiliar to the general reader. A glossary of these terms is included.

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