On October 27, 2017, Esther and Beth began canvassing the neighborhoods of St. Louis with a printed map of properties they wanted to look at. They were in the market for the perfect mixed-use building, preferably on a mostly-commercial street in a dense, diverse neighborhood, that needed enough work to make it affordable and not so much that they wouldn’t be able to manage it physically or financially.
Early the following week, they made an offer on a building at 6911-17 South Broadway in the Carondelet district, an economically, socially, and geographically mixed neighborhood along the Mississippi River about ten minutes from downtown St. Louis. The property actually contained two joined buildings, one with a former diner downstairs and a two-bedroom apartment upstairs, and the second with two storefronts, one of which had been the dining room for the restaurant and the other a storage room stacked from floor to ceiling with wooden furniture parts, and with two one-bedroom apartments upstairs.
On November 16, after selling her property in Michigan, Beth moved to St. Louis. Upon returning to the property, things looked both better and worse than they had the first time around. The diner was still amazing, the kitchen beyond their wildest dreams.
The future performance space seemed a bit daunting since eight double booths that seemed to be cemented to the floor had to be removed before any other work could begin.
The back stairway, the only entrance to the two-bedroom apartment above the diner, was a literal death trap. . .
. . . and the other two upstairs apartments, upon closer look, felt like little more than sagging ceilings, giant gaps in the floors, crumbling plaster, and serious water damage.
Yet, despite learning that the entire roof was going to need replacement and that each apartment was going to require it’s own electrical panel, plumbing system, and furnace, there were some bright spots. A structural engineer judged the building in fine form, the ceilings just a symptom of age and the century-old beams perfectly sound. Behind the plaster, the nearly foot-and-a-half thick exterior walls were constructed of beautiful stone and, though it would be a lot of work, it was possible to chip the plaster off to expose the stone in the future living spaces. The windows across the front of each apartment had been replaced and operated smoothly, filling each apartment with light. Perhaps most important of all, an inventory of the ‘wood room’ downstairs revealed enough inch-thick hardwood boards to provide flooring for the entire building twice over.
On December 7, the home of MARSH became officially established at 6911-17 S. Broadway.