Plan to Build Ronald McDonald House on Historic St. Louis Church Site Stalls

By on December 5, 2018

From St. Louis Public Radio:  Officials from Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis thought they found a perfect spot to build a new facility to house families of hospitalized children. But their plan for a 60-bedroom building has hit a snag.

Earlier this year, the charity bought 2.6 acres of land in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood — a nearly equal drive from the city’s two children’s hospitals. But the plot of land includes an abandoned 19th century church, and the city’s Preservation Board has said the organization’s plan can’t justify tearing down a historic building.

Because the planned development is in a city-designated preservation review district and the church on the property is classified as a “high merit” building eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, the St. Louis Preservation Board must approve its demolition.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis offers living arrangements so families of sick children can stay close to their hospitalized relatives. The organization has two facilities in the city of St. Louis – one near SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital on South Grand and another near St. Louis Children’s Hospital in the Central West End. The charity also has a suburban location near Mercy Children’s Hospital in Creve Coeur.

Even with multiple housing facilities, the organization is constantly in need of more space, President Dan Harbaugh said.

“Right now we have 39 bedrooms in the city and on any given night we need an additional 20 to 25 bedrooms,” he said.

The 60-bed facility would be in what he describes as a perfect location: Exactly in between the two urban children’s hospitals.

Harbaugh said if the city denied its plans to demolish the church, the charity would most likely look for another location.

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