Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sic transit ... etc

Liz O'Brien's book about Samuel Marx is, as I said yesterday, such a treasure house of ideas and images - one of the most beautiful houses shown is that designed by Marx for Buster May, nephew by marriage and erstwhile chairman of the company owning the May department stores in St. Louis.

Ms. O'Brien: "The International Style, flat-roofed house, with its asymmetrical massing and broad expanses of glass, stood apart from the Georgian and Colonial style houses in the bucolic, Midwestern community and signaled a new direction in residential work for the architect. With carte blanche from the twenty-six-year-old May, Marx was able to pursue his ideal of producing a harmonious, complete work of art, seamlessly integrating the building's architecture with its site, landscaping and interiors."

If you are aware of the architecture and design world you know that beauty, historic or aesthetic significance, even democratic processes of opposition are no shield against the developer's wrecking ball. Despite Mr. May donating his large collection of pre-Columbian sculpture and other works of art to the Saint Louis Museum and notwithstanding the opposition of scholars, residents of the neighbourhood, and preservationists, the house containing this staircase was torn down for new development.

To see, click here.


  1. The curves in the stair shown in your top pictures are uncanny.

    From the pre-teardown pictures it was in tragically bad condition. But new? I'm not sure it was an easy house to love.

  2. I think the owners did love it and if you can get your hands on the book you can how beautiful the house was. i would have loved to have loved in it.

  3. Of course they did and many others would too. I'm more regretting the white elephant status of homes like this: Not really a widely beloved style, not suitable for re-tasking, no payback for bringing it back from ruin, rather, a money-losing labor of love. There are a lot more of these.