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The Wellston Loop Building
In the days when streetcars were a common sight throughout the city, one line ran down present-day Martin Luther King Drive. Where the street crosses the city line, the line ended, looping around to head back. This office building went up adjacent to the site, marking the western end of the streetcar line, and the midpoint of a bustling commercial strip.

Today most of the commercial properties are abandoned; the Wellston Loop Building had been vacant and in poor shape for years. It qualified for the Landmarks Association's 11 Most Endangered List for 1998. Spalling had peeled off large portions of the brick facade, leaving the terra cotta trim to hang pecariously in space. The concerns were justified; some time between August 2000 and October 2002, the building was demolished. The site is vacant today.

The adjacent turn-around shed, an attractive outdoor shelter, seems to be doing okay. The Bi-State bus system uses it today as trollies did until they stopped running in the 1950s.

A check-up visit in August 2000 gave me the chance to get a few more detail shots.

I'd have done a full walk-around of the building and taken more photographs, but I was not very comfortable in the neighborhood at the time. I hadn't been out of my car for one minute when some guy on the sidewalk asked me something or other about my camera. It's not the first time; someone asked the same question downtown once, a few blocks from the Arch. Sometimes I tell them the truth: I got it for $35 at a porch sale (best bargain I've ever found in my life!) I usually don't mention that brand-new the whole setup would have run about $500.

Not much had changed when I was back in the area in 2006, aside from a few more buildings having disappeared. In ten minutes of walking up and down the sidewalk taking photographs, two separate guys approached me asking for money. One figured I was lost and tried giving me directions out to the suburbs. Such is the rarity of a white male walking on MLK.


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