The Doctors Building on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, in the City’s Ville neighborhood, has quite a history. Originally built in 1899 as a two-family structure designed to look like a stately single-family residence, it was later converted to offices for African-American doctors who worked at Homer G. Phillips Hospital with African-American patients.
I have written "African-American" twice in the sentence above to make a point: the Doctors Building and the new Dick Gregory Place Federal Historic District in which it sits are very important elements of African-American history in the City of St. Louis. The Doctors Bulding has the potential to be a wonderful monument to that history and culture, and the home for new businesses in the Ville.
It may not, however, be able to realize that potential. The building’s owner has begun demolishing it, without a permit hoping to add more parking for his church.
After neighbors and the alderman noticed the demo and reported it, the City’s building inspectors ordered the owner to stop. If he wishes to continue, the building’s owner will have to make a persuasive case for demolition before the Preservation Board.
Given its place in our history and the fact the federal historic designation makes tax credits available for the building’s rehabilitation, I can’t imagine what that case would be.