A Tale Of Two Feed Mills

Hay Grain Flour & Feed Mills Kirkwood, MO 2011

OK Hatchery / Hay Grain Flour and Feed

Kirkwood, Missouri 2011

Stripping paint from this building at 111 W. Argonne Drive, near the Kirkwood train station, revealed vintage commercial signs: Coulter Feed Co. with the Purina Checkerboard pattern and a Bull Durham Tobacco sign on the side. The building dates to 1912 and was built as a feed and grain operation with a drive-through doorway in the center for wagons . When architectural illustrator Bob Whitesitt bought the building in 1987, he decided to “take it back to the red brick.” He hired Galati Building Cleaning and what looked at first to be a routine job turned into a restoration project. “There were six signs over the Bull Durham,” said Whitesitt. “Most of it was painted on with enamel so the reds and blacks came off with the application of Prosilco, but the whites stayed because they were done with lead-based paint. The difficulty was in deciding how far to go with it. Each time we’d see something new we’d have to decide whether to stop or keep on going. But when we got to the Bull Durham [sign] I said ‘Stop!’”

Rolling-Ridge2

Rolling Ridge Nursery / Henry Schultz Feed Co.

Old Webster – Webster Groves, Missouri 2012

The trademark Purina Checkerboard design, around for more than a century now, is instantly recognizable on the wall of this former feed store on N. Gore in Old Webster. The information within the checkerboard is slightly varied in two locations: the south face and west face of the building. Both areas indicate the name of the business: Hy. Schultz Feed Co [Hy. being a shortened form of Henry]. In addition, the south facing sign reads “HORSE DAIRY POULTRY,” while the west facing sign says “FEEDS IN CHECKERBOARD BAGS.” Below and outside of the sign proper is the name, Commercial Sign Co., along with something one rarely, if ever, sees on a wall sign and that is a record of the exact date the sign was painted: “10-9-36.”

Built in 1892, the structure has always been either a feed store or a nursery. Like the OK Hatchery, this building also had a drive-through doorway in the center for wagons. Henry Schultz ran it as a feed store until 1953, at which time he sold it to his employees, and it has been under one ownership as Rolling Ridge Nursery since 1959. The signs were exposed in the 1980s when the building was being worked on. This generated attention and before long the Webster Groves Historic Preservation Commission weighed in: Because it was historic and in an historic district, the sign was not to be obliterated or altered in any way. Of course, the owners of Rolling Ridge Nursery didn’t want to paint over the old signs—Henry Schultz being a relative and all—but they didn’t anticipate the restrictions brought on by their discovery. Zoning ordinances say a business is allowed only so much signage, and this old sign from the previous business counted toward their square-foot allowance. Thus, they had to accept a smaller-than-desired Rolling Ridge Nursery sign, and they had to refrain from making certain planned structural changes. Said Rolling Ridge VP Don Baumstark, “We even had to fight [the Historic Preservation Commission] to be allowed to put in our electric sign.” But Baumstark’s tone is not rueful. Despite the imposed restrictions or perhaps partly because of them, the charming nursery and garden shop has been going strong for 53 years and counting.

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