Our Call: Historic preservation laws needed for now and future



Imagine 100 years from now, driving in your flying car down Lemay Ferry Road. Approaching the Butler Hill intersection, you look at the corner and see ye olde QuikTrip, a historic gas station perfectly preserved. You’ll tell your children one day that you saw the QuikTrip, 80 years abandoned. Its lights no longer glow at night, but there on a small brick wall on that corner, there is a word on a beautiful brick facade: “Kassebaum.” That’s the Kassebaum QuikTrip, your children will tell their children. 

Here’s to progress, right? 

A hundred years ago there was a new building on that corner called the Kassebaum building. It’s still there today. Will it be there in a hundred more years? What will people in future generations think of the people who ripped down that building for a QT? Or the similar buildings in Lemay also torn down … for a QT?  

Perhaps this is old-fashioned thinking, QuikTrip supporters will say. After all, people like QuikTrips. They don’t like old buildings. Those are “eyesores” and out of fashion. Private property owners should be able to do what they want with their properties, including tearing them all down. But what do we think of the people who ripped down a log cabin in the 1960s along Gravois Road? What was built in its place? No one even remembers at this point. They just know the historic log cabin is gone. 

We’ll find out more what the public thinks about all this when the QT comes up for zoning. 

But we believe that the residents of South County care about the history of the place we live, and we urge the St. Louis County Council to change the conversation surrounding historic buildings by passing a historic preservation ordinance that would give official weight to whether a building coming down has historical significance. The Missouri Legislature, never one to be progressive, has allowed counties to decide on historic preservation for 30 years. 

Since then, many historic buildings have come down in St. Louis County. Debates locally and nationwide recently have focused on how we teach our history to children. 

But what if we tear it all down before we ever get that far? Will the QuikTrip be written about in books?