Built St. Louis > > Recalled to Life || Midtown > > The Continental Building

I first encountered the building in 1993. By then, though the proud facade remained relatively intact, the building's interior was a sad ruin. A roof-top maintenence door had been torn loose, allowing rain water to enter the building unrestricted. Countless windows were broken out. The aerial beacon, dark since 1962, was long since destroyed; nothing remained of it except the rusting metal tower that once held it aloft. The clock at street level was completely destroyed: the face smashed away, and the inner works all but gone, leaving only the empty metal frame. The building's fixtures -- its decorative metal and plaster trim, its sinks and bathrooms, its pipes, wiring, and lighting fixtures -- had been torn out, smashed, or stolen. The elevators lay collapsed in the bottoms of their shafts, their cables cut. The stairwells were littered with rubble, pieces of plaster and damaged heating units thrown by thrill-seeking vandals. And grafitti covered the walls.

"The Earth will reclaim this place," read one spray-painted tagline. And for years, many in St. Louis wondered if perhaps it was inevitably so. The multi-million dollar price tag of asbestos removal and demolition is probably the only reason the Continental remained standing.

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