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Wednesday, February 20, 2013 / 10:00 AM

Missing Geometries: The Last Gasometer, RIP

Missing Geometries: The Last Gasometer, RIP

Laclede Gas Pumping Station, 3615 Chervolet. Photograph by Byron Kerman

 

As noted by Michael Allen of Preservation Research Office, Laclede Gas has by now removed the city’s last gasometer.

Allen, a passionate civic preservationist and historian, mourned the loss of the strangely beautiful, superannuated gas-storage structure here.

The gasometer, when in favor, was a cylindrical metal frame that held a sort of bladder that rose to accommodate more gas. In the 20th century, most gas storage went underground, but the skeletal metal frames remain in many cities, reminders of “steampunkier” times, if you will.

In Allen’s eloquent epitaph for the 1920 structure, he compares it to another outmoded utility-building, the columnar water tower, at least three of which we have allowed to remain standing on this patch of earth for their iconic beauty. Too bad we couldn’t do the same for our gasometers.

(Allen’s obituary for the gasometers of Shrewsbury, published four years ago, is also worth checking out, here.)

The gasometers’ geometric precision, hugeness, sculptural quality, and empty, apocalyptic invitation to contemplation made them something special for those who love the built environment for all its relics, rough-hewn or no. Their destruction leaves the city a little more modern, but for some of us, a bit less cool in the bargain.

Photographs by Byron Kerman

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