Skip to content

Sewer Redux 2

September 12, 2022

There is no small job that can’t become a big ass project at the BAB. Year backs, we had a huge vacuum truck come to suck the trash out of the sewer, because the line was blocked. This time it is happening on a much larger scale.

We had some water backup in the basement during the heavy Spring showers, along with the rest of our neighborhood. Fortunately, ours was not as bad as some folks. Our basement is lower than everyone else’s on this block, so ours backs up first- you’re welcome, neighbors! Storm water was regularly ponding in the street during every big rain this summer. We called the sewer company to have the storm inlets cleaned out, which never happened. It will be a nasty mess to clean up the basement, but we didn’t have any major damage. Our collections of salvaged materials are stored there, but they are all up off the floor. The big job will be removing everything from the shelves, moving the shelves, power washing the floor, then repeating in reverse. We decided to wait until the rainy season is over to do this task, hopefully once.

We also called to report that the cover to the storm drain was broken, tottering on what was left below. It looks like something large hit the corner or it is old and collapsing, or both.

Dig Rite came out and marked the utilities, painted the frowny face and marked the cover as R+R- Remove and Replace.

This morning, a bunch of trucks parked around the BAB. We have tuckpointers working on the eastside wall and I was excited that maybe more than the usual 1 or 2 guys would be here today, but that’s another story. I’m working from home, periodically checking the security cameras to see what’s going on when I hear something unusual. A dump truck and a backhoe pulled up, it was starting to look like sewer repair day.

Read more…

Postcard found

September 11, 2022

Back when we were salvaging items from the demo house, we found a postcard behind the vintage metal kitchen cabinets.

Home Lines SS Doric Cruise Ship

The ship changed hands a number of times, had a few different names and was in a wreck at one point. It sunk in 2001, on route to being scraped, according to Wikipedia. It was quite small by today’s mega cruise ship standards. But, even the Titanic is small by today’s standards. This article popped up recently in my news feed, which reminded me that we still had this postcard. We hadn’t thought of what to do with it when we took it but it didn’t seem right to leave it to be taken away with the rest of the house when it was torn down. At one point we thought about putting behind the metal cabinets in their new location, but instead, it has been in the corner of the kitchen chalkboard all this time.

A note from Grandma Schulkin- she was enjoying herself.

Maybe the best thing would be to find its original owner and see if she wants her Grandma’s note back. I did a quick internet search for Robyn Beilenson but come up with what seemed like a different person. She may have a different name or may not be in St. Louis any longer but if anyone out there knows Robyn, can you please ask her if she wants her postcard?

Vintage Video

April 5, 2022

We’ve heard from a member of the Oppliger family, a son of one of the owners of Jacoby Art Glass, that owned the BAB from about 1945 until about 1975. He shared an AMAZING short video showing the glass studio and the workers making stained glass windows, from sketches thru construction to installation. We can identify the locations in the building in the videos- fascinating to see so many people working there. I was surprised how dark it is, but see how much easier it is to see the colored glass with limited light.

They’ve added the names of the artisans onto the video, which is a bonus. He let us know that they have updated their website and also reminded us that about the materials they donated to the local historical society– we need to make a visit!

Vintage Tiles

January 28, 2022

Valentine’s Day is approaching- time for a trip to Crown Candy Kitchen to get a lovely box of sweets for my sweetie. (Don’t tell Tom- we mustn’t spoil the surprise!) That got me thinking about one of Forest Gump’s famous quotes. “My mama always said, life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Where does he shop? You get chocolate. It’s a box of chocolates! Unless it comes from a surrealist or psychopath, most boxes of chocolates are pretty predictable things. A more accurate quote would be: “Life is like a salvaging trip…”.

We might start a day of salvage shopping with an idea or maybe even a list or dimensions when we need something specific like doors or plumbing fixtures. The exciting part of it though, is what appears along the way.

On one trip, the same day as our last door expedition, We saw this:

This mailbox was pulled from Leather Trades Building.

It was part of the building’s original multi-story mail chute, a common turn of the century system that was both amazing to watch and clog-prone. As buildings get updated, these impractical artifacts get removed. Gorgeous, old, solid metal obsolescence? Love!

Read more…

Plumbing fixtures

January 25, 2022

My family appreciates plumbing. Dad worked for American Standard in the plumbing division for many years, doing a wide variety of jobs. My brother, Mike’s, chosen career, not job, more of a calling I think, was as a plumber. Our collective attention to plumbing fixtures extended to discussing the brand and style of restroom fixtures while at restaurants when we were kids. Doesn’t everyone?

Selecting plumbing fixtures for our project is not being done lightly. And I’m expecting and need many helpful suggestions from family experts.

This classic poster by American Standard (literally) elevates the all-knowing plumber. Is he thinking, with his slightly raised eyebrow: ‘You dare to question my authority?’ Watch out for that wrench! He seems ready to knock some philistine’s heads.

We will be purchasing new pieces, like faucets and toilets, to keep with current codes, and to fill in what we can’t find. Tom’s soaking tub, which will have its own tub room, is still being conceived. It will be glorious! However, there are plenty of opportunities to incorporate salvaged items in our project. Like most things, older items tend to be more durably made, and to us, more interesting. The EPA reports that over 75% of construction waste ends up in landfills! The fact that these things usually come at a significant discount doesn’t hurt our bottom line, either! Win, win. Here are a few that we have collected, and some we’ve passed up. It may not always seem like it, but we don’t take home everything we see.

Read more…

Hello 2022!

January 12, 2022
Time to take down the holiday decorations- and get some construction started!

So here we are in 2022. What have we been doing? Well, I was reminded that we haven’t posted in over a year. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like we’ve made much progress on the BAB, but looking back, there have been things accomplished. We’ve got a bunch of updates that we’ll be posting to catch up, plus some new stuff that is getting started.

In this photo, you can see some of the white security cameras next to the first floor windows that were installed over the summer. We’ll need to do a post on those- the recorded videos have provided us with entertainment, as well as some intel on some not so welcome visitors to the neighborhood.

We’ve continued to ‘shop’ for unique and useful items we need for the upstairs construction- plumbing fixtures, tiles and light fixtures. More on that in future posts.

Read more…

1928 Drawings

November 8, 2020

Our phone expert friend, Stephen, was emailing us some information about the door in the basement that is labeled “Operators Quarters”. He thinks it would have separated the lady operator’s support suite- restroom, locker room, etc.- from the operating rooms. There are a couple places on the first floor that have empty door frames that could have been where that door came from. He mentioned that he was looking for existing plans on this site and couldn’t find them. We’ve referenced the blueprints we found, a few times, but we hadn’t posted the set. What we have is from the BAB’s last addition, in 1928. The building was modified in a few places by subsequent owners, but this is pretty close to how it looked when we first saw it.

Tom did this diagram to show when and where the additions were completed, with some redlines that show updated information.
Read more…


November 1, 2020

One of the things that signals quality and substance are doors, whether on a device, a car or a building. It is a part you touched, the thing you personally interact with. I remember shopping for my first boom-box and it was really important to me that the cassette tape compartment was solid and well designed- a soundless slow glide, not a plastic-y click. I wouldn’t have know how to explain that at the time, but that makes sense to me, looking back.

Still have it- don’t need the cassette player but it blasts the same tunes I used to listen to when I got it, but that’s now an ‘Oldies’ station, of course.

When we built the apartment, we spent time looking for and found interesting doors to reuse. It just didn’t make sense to buy flimsy pre-hung doors from the hardware store and put them along side the steel fire doors in this building.

The steel fire doors are painted to look like wood.
We have some special doors in the BAB
Read more…

Metal Cabinets

October 29, 2020

As the drawings are progressing (so slowly), the mechanical and electrical systems area the biggest chuck of work that we need to figure out. We’ve enlisted experts to help, more on that later.

We are still doing inventories of the stuff we’ve ‘collected’ over the years- metal cabinets, doors, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures and many bits of interesting random stuff. Now, we are coming up with ways to use these items. In our apartment project, we were the general contractor, so if we found something interesting, we’d throw it in the truck and work out the installation on our own. Now, we have to give instructions to the professional general contractor, so we need to document how we want things done. We will still do many things on our own, but there are some things that will need to be detailed in the documents. First up, metal cabinets.

Read more…

Jacoby Studios Archived

September 4, 2020

We heard from historian friends that the Oppliger family had donated their Jacoby Studio’s materials to the Carondelet Historical Society. The Society placed some of the artifacts in a exhibit, right before closing for the duration of the pandemic. NiNi Harris wrote a detailed article about Jacoby and their donation for their winter newsletter. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the collections or the exhibit but we’ll visit as soon as they reopen.

Thanks for the shout-out, NiNi! Love this old photo of the building with a gas street light.