I was going to shoot a quick mug shot of the building at 501 Broadway, the one that has the big blue mural on the side of it, because it’s going to be torn down in the next couple of weeks. The property has been purchased by Trinity Lutheran Church. The cleared lot will be used for parking or for green space, a Missourian story said.
I happened to there at just the right time to catch David Renshaw, the guy who is going to knock it down. He gave me a tour of the old building and said some things that are worth a whole separate story. This post spins off one I did about neighborhood businesses and landmarks in Cape. One of them was Discovery Playhouse, a Broadway success story. The old building, constructed in 1916, has been turned into a children’s museum.
When I checked the link, I saw this March 22, 2010, photo taken from the second floor of the Playhouse, looking past the old Walther’s sign toward the building across the street that’s going to be torn down. (The Walther’s sign has been changed to read Discovery Playhouse, as you can see in the photo below.)
Nobody will have this view again
Renshaw said there wasn’t much to see upstairs at 501 Broadway, and I had to agree with him. I love old buildings, but this one was in sad shape. As much as I would have loved to have done a weeper about a poor old historic building being destroyed, I couldn’t do it. Sometimes the patient is too far gone for for heroic measures. The time to have saved it was before the roof started leaking and the mortar between the bricks started crumbling to powder.
Just as I started to walk out of the room, I turned and said, “I guess I should get a picture of the building across the street. It may be the last picture ever taken with this viewpoint.”
A friend of mine who used to do construction rehab said, “I don’t think I’ve ever met an introspective–much less, articulate–demo guy. Usually they’re the bottom of the construction hierarchy, along with roofers. Probably because both trades normally hire casual labor with little in the way of permanent skills.”
“Gone. No more”
Well, my friend never met David Renshaw. What he said captured my thoughts exactly.
Renshaw said, “I learned one thing in demolition – and I look at it from a lot of different ways. This is it. You just said it. This is going to be gone forever. Gone. No more. Right now you just experienced the last thing forever.”
He nailed it.
If I get my act together, you’ll see photos inside and outside 501-503 Broadway tomorrow. Renshaw was also the guy who used a pair of huge shears to make all the cuts on the Mississippi River Traffic Bridge just before it splashed into the river. I’ll share his touching story about something he found on the bridge that will show that he’s not just some brute who knocks things down.