Mid-Century Harris Armstrong Demolition in the Central West End

Harris Armstrong - South Parish Hall demo

I was surprised when an architect friend mentioned to me that Harris Armstrong’s 1954 International Style South Parish Hall (attached to Trinity Episcopal Church) at Euclid and Olive has seen significant demolition. I’m not sure how this one slipped by without public notice. Looking at the site now, precious little of Harris Armstrong’s building remains.

Harris Armstrong (1899 – 1973) was the foremost modernist active in St. Louis. He designed the 1935 Shanley Building in Clayton to international acclaim. He was the architect behind the 1938 Grant Medical Clinic, the 1946 Magic Chef Headquarters (with Isamu Noguchi) and the 1962 Ethical Society.

Harris Armstrong - Magic Chef / U-Haul{Magic Chef headquarters (now U-Haul) by Harris Armstrong on South Kingshighway}

Armstrong’s South Parish Hall was a classic mid-century design which through choice of materials blended gracefully with the earlier stone gothic church.

South Parish Hall:

Harris Armstrong - South Parish Hall demo

Harris Armstrong - Trinity Episcopal Chuch South Parish Hall

Harris Armstrong - Trinity Episcopal Chuch South Parish Hall

The stated reasons for the demolition were that the Harris Armstrong design was too small to fit the needs of an active congregation. The structure needed a new roof and lacked the modern kitchen and restrooms required by current users. Renovation was estimated to cost in excess of $100,000 and would have failed to address the need for increased space. The new structure designed by Jim Riddle aspires to maintain something of Armstrong’s aesthetic. A $700,000 building permit was approved last November.

Harris Armstrong - South Parish Hall demo{rendering of new South Parish Hall}

I wish them the best. But I still grieve the loss of a once-shining midcentury gem by one of our city’s greatest architects.

Trinity Episcopal Church South Parish Hall Campaign Brochure – St. Louis by nextSTL.com