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Joe Holleman is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

As it sits on a Clayton street corner awaiting demolition, preservationists have started a petition drive to save the historic Shanley Building.

The Shanley, at 7800 Maryland Avenue, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is generally recognized as the first International Style building in the Midwest. 

Chris Stritzel of CitySceneSTL started the petition, bolstered by a recent Facebook post from the Landmarks Association of St. Louis. It has more than 800 signatures.

Stritzel said "losing it will be a shame for future generations of architects and historians." 

Shanley Building

A photo of the Shanley Building included as part of an application to be included on the National Register of Historic Places. The photos were taken in 1981 by Esley Hamilton, preservation historian for the St. Louis County Parks and Recreation Department

The building is slated to come down to accommodate a $270 million development by Fred Kummer's HBE Corp. The development will take up the half-block bounded by Maryland, Central and Bemiston avenues and an alley.

Stritzel said businesses were told they have to be gone by January 2020.

In its Facebook entry, the Landmarks' preservationists said, "While the City of Clayton is tasked with encouraging development, it should not do so at the expense of the community’s identity and heritage."

In a statement Monday, HBE said they were aware of the building's history, but added that the entire half-block is "clearly in need of redevelopment.  

"The Shanley building has suffered from extreme lack of care over the years, as tenants have come and gone," the statement said.

Architect Harris Armstrong

Harris Armstrong

Shanley's architect was Edwardsville native Harris Armstrong, a leader in the modernist movement.

Armstrong struggled in his profession until 1934, when he was hired to design the Shanley Building. When the Shanley was completed in 1936, it was highlighted in both Architectural Record and Architectural Review and won a silver medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1937.

After that, he was in high demand and eventually designed more than 100 structures in the area before he died in 1973.

He designed numerous buildings in Oakland. His most notable works include the Ethical Society of St. Louis building in Ladue; the Magic Chef building in St. Louis; Cori House in Glendale; and the Grant Medical Building in the Central West End.

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