We hoped their letter of support would have had some influence — yet upon being asked if the Board recieved the letter, members issued blank stares as if having seen Colbert’s ghost manifested at the back of the room. It’s suspected that prior submitted testimony was supressed.
Board President Richard Callow allowed the letter to be submitted into testimony but not read aloud. The single copy was not distributed or photocopied and given to members upon being submitted — most likely the few that showed up never saw it.
Dear Preservation Board,
The National Trust for Historic Preservation wishes to voice our support for the preservation of the San Luis Apartments, formerly the DeVille Motor Hotel, at 4483 Lindell Boulevard. Designed in 1961 by Charles Colbert, who was awarded AIA Louisiana’s Medal of Honor in 2007, the DeVille Motor Hotel is an important component of Lindell Boulevard’s historic high-rise streetscape.
Although the DeVille Motor Hotel is not yet 50 years old, its significance as part of St. Louis’s postwar built environment should not be overlooked. Through our Modernism + Recent Past Initiative, the National Trust recognizes the importance and significance of cultural resources of the post-war and modern era, and aims to enhance the public’s appreciation for and understanding of mid-20th century architecture. If we do not preserve the significant places built since the mid-20th century, our nation stands to lose a vital aspect of its architectural and cultural heritage.
The National Trust is also concerned about the proposed creation of a parking lot on the DeVille Motor Hotel site. Although the parking lot would include “sustainable” features, the most sustainable option for the site would be to retain and rehabilitate the DeVille for continued use. Buildings are vast repositories of energy, including the energy expended to manufacture building materials, transport them to the construction site, and assemble them into a structure. All of that energy is embodied in the finished building, and if it is demolished and landfilled, the energy locked up in it is totally wasted. The process of demolition itself uses even more energy, and construction debris accounts for 25% of the waste in the municipal waste stream each year. The gap in the streetwall created by a parking lot on the DeVille site would also detract from the neighborhood’s character and sense of place.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation hopes that alternative solutions can be explored which would respect the DeVille’s historic significance, embodied energy, and neighborhood importance, while also addressing the needs of the Archdiocese.