Update: In 1894, 17 Westmoreland's construction costs exceeded $800,000. In the spirit of determining the price of the home in today's dollars, I found that using the GDP deflator, the cost of the building would have slightly exceeded $18.5 million. Using the Consumer Price Index, the home would cost approximately $21 million. Only one home is on the market in the St. Louis metropolitan area that exceeds a $10 million price; no other homes have sold in the last 60 days for greater than $10 million. The current estimated value of 17 Westmoreland is around $1.3 million, which is, considering construction costs, quite the bargain.
Later, the home was inhabited by Dwight Davis, the namesake for the Davis Cup tennis championship. In a stroke of tragedy, the masterwork was not seen or long inhabited by designer or patron - original homeowner John Davis died of Bright's disease in 1894, while the architect died the previous year. However, the home is now in the capable hands of Mrs. Mary Strauss, the owner and restorer of the Fox Theatre.
The building was executed quite nicely from Richardson's plans, and fronted Washington Avenue, but extended down 8th Street to St. Charles Avenue; the warehouse extended west along Washington to about midblock. Tragically, this masterwork was gutted by fire in 1896, too late for another Richardsonian Romanesque temple of commerce to be erected in its place. It was one of only a handful of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge or Richardson commercial buildings to be built in St. Louis. Within decades, the site was occupied by the building that now serves as the Renaissance Grand Hotel.
A description of the fire from the Middleville Sun (Mich.) in 1896:
FIRE VISITS ST. LOUIS.
Ely-Walker Dry Goods Co. Burned Out
Fire Monday gutted the mammoth seven-story granite building at the southwest corner of 8th street and Washington avenue, St. Louis, Mo., occupied by the Ely-Walker Dry Goods Company. The loss will be close to $1,500,000. One human life was sacrificed and several people were hurt.
The fire was one of the worst the St.Louis department has had to cope withfor a long time, and for a while it looked as though the Washington Avenue wholesale business district would be wiped out.
The building burned was known as the Lionberger Building. It fronted on Washington Avenue, running north along 8th Street to St. Charles, and extended west on Washington Avenue to the middle of the block. The firm's enormous stock of goods was recently increased by immense purchases from the East, and consequently every inch of available floor space was occupied by great piles of dry goods of every description for the spring trade.
The insurance on the stock is about $1,000,000. The building was insured for $200,000. It was owned by the John Lionberger estate and was built about eight years ago at a cost of $500,000. Before the blaze was mastered one fireman, George Gaultwald, was killed by a falling wall at the 8th Street end of the building, and during the fire several other firemen were more or less seriously injured.
From "Palaces of St. Louis," National Magazine (Volume 17, October 1902). The caption reads, "A Marble Palace in Forest Park Terrace, the Residence of Mr. C.S. Hills."
So far I have not yet found the location for the home, excepting that Forest Park Terrace was at times another name for Lindell Boulevard facing Forest Park. Another photograph of the home is in American Architect and Building News (May 1900), which lists C.S. Hills as Colonel Charles S. Hills. The Missouri Historical Society has a photograph of the home, ca. 1899. Civil War records show that Colonel Hills was a commander of Iowan regiments during that terrible conflict.
Update: I have located Colonel Hills' house. It was located at 5065 Lindell Boulevard, and has been demolished and is now a vacant lot. It appears that Colonel Hills' garage is now part of 16 Westmoreland Place, as 5065 was absorbed into an expanded Westmoreland plot and an extant building remains on what would have been the site. See the St. Louis Assessor's records for the plot.
For more information on Henry Hobson Richardson:
For a Bing Bird's Eye View of the only extant Richardson home in St. Louis:
For the Google Earth Vandeventer Place Pack:
A colorized original version of the above sketch from 1887 is available for viewing or purchase on St. Croix Architecture at http://www.stcroixarchitecture.com/plan.php?id=2271.
For more information, see http://www.westendword.com/NC/0/1241.html
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