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Old brick from Buster Brown shoe building to be used in new NGA campus

ST. LOUIS – Built in 1900, the old Buster Brown Blue Ribbon shoe factory at Cass and Jefferson is one of the last reminders of a time when St. Louis was the shoe manufacturing capitol.

“We started with 137 structures on the 97-acre site and we have already completed demolition on 132 of those structures and we’ve moved one of those, as you know,” said Otis Williams, executive director of the St. Louis Development Corporation.

In February, Rosetta Taylor’s century-old brick house was moved from its North Market home to make way for the National Geospatial Agency. The NGA West campus will be moving into the near northside neighborhood, along with approximately 3,000 employees.

But first, there are buildings and blocks of the city that have to be demolished.

“The building as we know it is all brick, so about 6,000 or 7,000 bricks will be used on the NGA site once they start construction,” Williams said. “So they’re saving them and putting them on pallets for future use on the site.”

Minority owned Premier Demolition was awarded the job of taking down the old Brown Shoe building and saving the bricks for reuse in the new NGA campus. The St. Louis Development Corporation estimates it will take eight to 10 months to completely remediate the site before turning it over to the NGA.

“Many of the jobs in the city are hand-wrecked demos,” Williams said. “Many of them are palletized and used elsewhere in the region or shipped away from the city to other locations.”

So to build part of this city's future, you're going to need a good foundation at the new NGA site, and some old Buster Brown bricks.