Yesterday, the City Preservation Board asked the Cultural Resources staff to prepare a recommendation for the inclusion of more than a dozen City buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
Leafing through the nomination forms, I was struck by one prepared by local architectural historian Karen Bode Baxter. Ms. Baxter submitted a well-researched nomination for the Standard Adding Machine Building, a fine two-story brick structure at 3701 Forest Park Boulevard, arguing that its inclusion on the National Register would preserve a building that was associated with a significant moment in US history.
In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, St. Louis was one of the leading industrial cities in the country. It was also the Silicon Valley of its day a veritable hotbed of calculating research and technology — and the original home to four of the largest and earliest adding machine manufacturing companies in the world.
Standard Adding Machine Co. made and sold the first adding machine with a single set of ten digit keys, instead of a full keyboard. Standard-brand adding machines were among the first calculators that could print a register showing each line of a calculation, which was useful in reviewing registers for errors. The company dominated its industry until about 1912, when competition and technological advances forced it to reorganize and — ultimately — to go out of business.
The building itself was designed by F.N. Hinchman — and altered (mostly for the better) over the years by L.B. Pendleton and the firm of William B. Itner.
As we move forward with our ambitious plans for the Cortex and the Chouteau Greenway research areas, it’s nice to recall that St. Louis is no stranger to technological innovation.