This week, Jason and I took a behind the scenes tour of the National Architectural Arts Center, also known as the BUILDINGS MUSEUM (see link!) in St. Louis, MO. I am still in complete awe on their extensive collection of building materials… I had to blog about this right away!
Imagine if we kept entire facades, unique building details and iconic pieces of almost every major demolition in Buffalo over the past 30 years.. this is what this demo contractor did in St. Louis! He HAND CHISELED out every important piece – the terra cotta, brick, marble, stone..etc.. of every important building he could get his hands on and has it stored and now displayed in a foundry/warehouse just outside of St. Louis.
There are 1886 statues, hundreds of columns made out of all types of materials, slabs of slate, marble and granite, unique lion faces, a terra cotta Jesus face, lots of unique bricks of all shapes and sizes, pieces of marble… all kinds of crazy amazing stuff! Over 125 cast iron store fronts!
It’s truly remarkable… must see.. totally worth the trip down there. St. Louis is very lucky to have such a dedicated person who has spent his entire life preserving these incredible pieces. Thanks to Michael R. Allen from Preservation Research Office for the incredible tour!
About the National Architectural Arts Center
In 2005, the St. Louis Building Arts Foundation acquired the former Sterling Steel Casting foundry in Sauget, Illinois just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis. The 15-acre, 13-building facility is currently under renovation. Here, the Foundation is launching the National Architectural Arts Center, an unparalleled educational center housing our architectural artifacts collection and research library. The National Architectural Arts Center is envisioned as the nation’s premiere museum of architecture.
The Foundation owns large, unique collections of architectural artifacts and literature essential to its educational mission and crucial to the work of historians and scholars across the country. The Foundation’s artifact collection is the largest private collection in the United States and contains over 300,000 items. The Foundation also owns period working shops and production lines that will be used to demonstrate the process associated with the manufacturing of historic building materials, as well as the study and practice of materials conservation technology. The library encompasses an estimated quarter million rare and out of print books, periodicals, trade catalogs, historic photographs, drawings and other documents related to the building arts.
Through exhibits, tours, publications and other activities the Foundation engages the public on issues of architecture and design. Past exhibitions of Foundation artifacts have appeared at the Missouri Historical Society, Missouri Botanical Garden, Washington University, Sheldon Foundation for the Arts, the St. Louis University Art Museum, the First Street Forum and the Forum for Contemporary Art.
Outreach and Assistance
The Foundation provides assistance and advice to organizations, educational institutions, museums and government agencies that are undertaking preservation and conservation projects. Additionally, the Foundation aims to raise national awareness of St. Louis’ incredible architecture.