National Building Arts Center

The National Building Arts Center (NBAC) is a large collection of significant architectural, structural, and industrial items saved before these elements from the built environment are demolished. It is the physical collection of the St. Louis Building Arts Foundation. The Center salvages and stores important architectural and industrial elements to promote public awareness of architecture, manufacturing, construction, and urban design in the built environment. It also works to ensure historic preservation of existing buildings and maintains an extensive research library. The foundation and center began as the personal collecting hobby and the architectural salvaging business of Larry Giles, a pioneering historic preservationist in St. Louis, Missouri, United States.[3]

National Building Arts Center
Natl Bldg Arts Ctr lobby.jpg
Formation2002; 20 years ago (2002)[1]
FounderLarry Giles[2]
Founded atSt. Louis, Missouri, United States
TypeNon-profit foundation
Registration no.05-0545749
HeadquartersSauget, Illinois, United States
CoordinatesCoordinates: 38°35′42″N 90°10′06″W / 38.594927°N 90.168276°W / 38.594927; -90.168276
Michael R. Allen
Vice President
Michael Jackson
Mimi Stiritz
Jason Deem
Key people
Stephen Trampe
Emery Cox

The Center started by saving architecturally significant pieces of historic buildings in the St. Louis region prior to the associated structures being demolished but now takes pieces from around the country and occasionally internationally.[4] It also collects artifacts prior to major renovations of historic structures. Columns, beams, façades, statues and monuments, and other architectural elements were initially stored in a number of warehouse spaces around St. Louis for a number of years. In addition to saving pieces prior to demolition, the Center now also holds the contents of other museums and collections. It holds more of the physical history of New York City than is held in New York.

In 2007, the collection was consolidated and moved to Sauget, Illinois, in the former Sterling Steel Casting foundry property, the historical character of which has largely been retained to illustrate its original use as NBAC repurposed and restored the facilities.[3] The collection consists of more than 300,000 items in 1,600 wooden crates of 30 cubic feet (0.85 cubic metres).[5][6] It cost about $1 million to acquire the Sauget site and move the artifacts there in 350 semi-truck loads.[5]

The Center provides tours upon scheduled request and plans to one day show their collection to the general public similar to a museum format. In the original plans for the Gateway Arch there was an idea to include an architecture museum on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.[7] The facility is located within sight of the Arch and with a partial view of downtown St. Louis. To raise money for the site and operations, the Center sells duplicates and doubles of artifacts, in addition to traditional fundraising, as well as some items (typically duplicates) from the library.[5]

Items in the collection include:

  • 8 foot (2.4 metres)-tall terracotta frieze from the 18-story Ambassador Theater Building[5]
  • Missouri Pacific Building
  • St. Louis Terra Cotta company
  • Soulard Station Post Office
  • Gaslight Square[8]
  • State Bank of Wellston sign and support mast (saved after Giles raised $19,000 to rent necessary equipment including a crane and flatbed trucks to salvage the rotating illuminated sign)[1]
  • Elements from the Globe Building, which was remodeled but remains
  • Cherokee Native Statue, which was removed from the Cherokee Street district to respect the original inhabitants of the land[9]
  • Most of the architectural collection of the Brooklyn Museum

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Naffziger dlin, Chris (4 June 2014). "Historic Bank Sign That Served as Weather Beacon Saved From Scrapyard". Riverfront Times. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  2. ^ "National Building Arts Foundation Official". Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  3. ^ a b Greene, Lynnda. "A Conversation with Larry Giles". St. Louis Magazine. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  4. ^ Holleman, Joe (20 August 2017). "Spotlight: National Building Arts Center in Sauget saves at least pieces of history". St. Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Sisson, Patrick (9 May 2017). "A salvager's decades-long dream to build a museum of architectural artifacts". Curbed. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  6. ^ Vespereny, Cynthia (22 August 2014). "St. Louis Character: Larry Giles". St. Louis Business Journal. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  7. ^ "National Building Arts Foundation Website". National Building Arts Foundation Website. Retrieved 20 Nov 2018.
  8. ^ Medlin, Jarrett (22 August 2014). "The Collector: Larry Giles". Curbed. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  9. ^ Wicentowski, Danny (17 September 2021). "Cherokee Street Statue Removed After Community Vote". Riverfront Times.

External linksEdit