Today we're pleased to kick off a new series from guest blogger Michael Allen, founder and director of the Preservation Research Office in St. Louis. Over the next few weeks, he'll share the remarkable transformation of the power plant at St. Louis' City Hospital building -- the only historic power plant building in the United States that has been reused for a large-volume recreational purpose (in this case, a climbing gym!).
Our hope: that Michael's example of inventive preservation from his hometown inspires you to look at your local places with new eyes and fresh ideas. So if you have any questions or insights during the series, please share in the comments! -- J.R.
Postcard view showing the completed group of Georgian Revival hospital buildings designed by Albert B. Groves, sometime after 1912.
The stately red brick Power Plant at City Hospital today stands as a testament to the transformative power of adaptive reuse. The building now houses an indoor climbing gym as well as two restaurant spaces currently being built out. Few traces remain of the building’s long period of vacancy after City Hospital closed in 1985, and the boilers and generators that made this building an integral part of the hospital for 48 years have been removed.
Yet the form of the building, the lofty machine hall inside, and the building’s tall smokestack appear much as they did when drawn under the supervision of municipal architect Albert A. Osburg as part of a Public Works Administration-aided reinvention of the crowded City Hospital into a modern medical facility serving the city’s poor. After completion in 1937, the Power Plant has been a key part of the hospital’s three phases of life: service, abandonment, and renewal.... Read More →
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Michael R. Allen is the Director of the Preservation Research Office in St. Louis, which he founded in 2009. Recent activities include learning video editing and naming his cat after Oscar Niemeyer.