Part I

As I mentioned in a previous post, there were seven of us exploring this mansion. I thought I was going to be the last one there, but it turns out most of the group had a problem finding the place we would meet up (you know, to look less suspicious), so even though I showed up about twenty minutes late, everyone had just gotten there. Ironically, though, this group ended up getting split in two. Four of them stayed behind, photographing everything possible, while myself and two others were eagerly awaiting to explore the abandoned mansion also planned for the day. Regardless of how hard we tried to all leave together, the three of us ended up leaving and driving down the street to the mansion alone.

Was that probably a dickish thing to do? Probably. But, it was getting colder and colder, with the sky getting darker right along with the weather, and we needed to get there sooner rather than later to get some decent shots of a famous building around St. Louis — the Clemens House.

Home sweet home.

Admittedly, I don’t know too much about this mansion compared to what I know with Pruitt-Igoe. From what I do know, however, is that the mansion was built for James Clemens Jr. — the uncle of Mark Twain. Its purpose changed multiple times throughout the years, from a private home for Clemens, to a Sisters of St. Joseph site, to a homeless shelter. It is rapidly deteriorating amidst a street which is seemingly pretty well off, considering the street this mansion sits off of is one of the poorer neighborhoods in the St. Louis metro.

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From taking just a few steps in, you can tell what sort of beauty this place used to be. Apparently, there was a chapel added onto the back part of the original building (on the left), but unfortunately, we did not get that far back. As I’m sure it’s apparent from the picture above, this place is in awful condition. Even on the first floor, there were gaping holes from rotting wood, mold all over the walls and anything else you can think of when entering a house so damaged.

Today.

To be completely honest, there just was not too much to see. What has either been overtaken by nature or destroyed sits calm and still. There was an eerie hallway on the first and second floor that we were going to take. Our plan, from what I understood, was that we’d go to the second floor, search the house built after the original, and wrap back around the first house before leaving. Unfortunately, other things wanted to stop us in our tracks.

The eerily long hallway on the second floor had a huge door at the other end, right next to a staircase leading up to what I assume is the attic. (But, of course, that too was fancy.) Oddly enough, however, myself and the other guy both heard some sort of shuffling going on near the end of the hallway. Not the type that makes noise when wind rustles against an old building, but footsteps trying to quietly back up from being seen. Not only that, but the woman there with us also heard some sort of shuffling to the left of her, which was another hallway, cornering the bathroom.

Instead of approaching potential danger, we headed right, to yet another hallway, which is when we saw it.

The ballroom.

...without a roof.

This chapel-turned-balcony was, and still is, absolutely gorgeous. Despite the fact you could hardly take any steps forward without stepping down to a nice little injury, the view was breathtaking and, for the first time, you could truly make out the beauty that this house once was. From what is not seen in the bottom picture is the haunting view of downtown St. Louis, and a sight that reminds you how often people pack up and move on, but continue living right next door, ignoring property like this used to once also be lively.

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“Hey, they finally made it,” alerted the woman, laughing, “Took ‘em long enough.”

We peak our heads out one of the open windows, and see a woman in a black hoodie, and assumed it to be the leader of the group whom we met at the Pruitt-Igoe property. She looked to be trying to climb over a brick and a pole, but couldn’t. That’s sort of weird, I thought, because she was climbing over stuff before without hassle. But the more I looked, the more I put together that wasn’t her — because there were kids there, at least three, and a teenager. For some reason though, I waved my arms trying to let them know (thinking it was our group) to come up, but instead, I get met with a thousand middle fingers, and the people quickly jump into a car that magically shows up at the last second and peels out.

“Uhh.” was what we all uttered, and decided it would be best to go ahead and wrap up before anything else might happen. (Obviously, it was just a random incident, and in no way connected to anything inside, but still odd.)

Just to the left of the bush near the back is where they stood.

And just like that, we left. It was short, sweet, a little peculiar, but a much nicer visit than the Pruitt-Igoe visit. I’m glad I met those other two, because it seemed like if I hadn’t, everything would have moved much more slow today, and you can’t do that when losing daylight as soon as we do upon entering the Fall season.

Funnily enough, as we were pulling backup to the place we all first met, one car was just leaving (and I ended up passing the couple on my way to get gas, as they were approaching the mansion), and the other two were walking the streets of Cass Avenue, alone, taking pictures of other abandoned houses. That was a very bad idea, but I’m sure they ended up being okay.

'1849', the board covering the front door reads.

Lastly, I was researching the house a bit before starting this and discovered that, in 2009, there were plans to renovate the entire house, and plans to do were physically evident up until early 2011 (as seen here), and I’m still not too sure what happened with these plans, but there were absolutely no signs of any redevelopment inside or out. (Case in point, the blue tarps hanging in older pictures, but were most definitely not around when we visited today.)

Be sure to check out this website that shows a sad, physical representation of how much this property has degraded in the last decade alone. It’s a shame nothing is happening with such a beautiful house.

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