Demolition of St. Louis' historic, storm-damaged Castle Ballroom near

Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Count Basie were among the musicians who played the St. Louis ballroom before it closed in 1953.
2014-02-17T12:12:00Z 2014-03-06T08:38:05Z Demolition of St. Louis' historic, storm-damaged Castle Ballroom nearBy Tim Bryant tbryant@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8206 stltoday.com
February 17, 2014 12:12 pm  • 

Demolition is looming for the vacant but historic Castle Ballroom, which suffered heavy damage in November when much of the roof collapsed during a storm.

Part of the building’s west side also collapsed, and the structure’s interior has been open to the weather all winter. Barry Adelstein, a partner at SAG Properties, the owner, said Monday the building is too damaged to save.

“It’s a public safety issue at this point, and fixing it is just not practical,” he said. “We tried to save it. We’re sorry we were not able to.”

SAG Properties is seeking a demolition permit from the city. The permit application, filed Jan. 31, would allow the owner to take down the three-story structure once the city’s Building Division determines that environmental concerns are met.

The building, at 2839 Olive Street, was a mess even before the roof fell in, but many of its original features had remained intact. The Landmarks Association of St. Louis led tours in the hope of generating interest in restoration.

Adelstein says potential developers examined the building but backed off when they weighed the high cost of renovation.

Castle Ballroom opened in 1908. At first called Cave Hall, the building became better known decades later as the Castle Ballroom, which drew most of its business from nearby Mill Creek and Yeatman, two predominantly black neighborhoods.

Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and Count Basie were among the musicians who played the ballroom before it closed in 1953.

In 2011, SAG Properties got the building on the National Register of Historic Places in the hope that the resulting availability of historic preservation tax credits would help spur redevelopment.

But unless someone with deep pockets steps forward almost immediately, the historic building will be flattened.

Tim Bryant covers commercial real estate, development and other business stories for the Post-Dispatch. He blogs at Building Blocks, the Post-Dispatch development blog. 

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