Building on the beauty and functionality of the past, @4240 combines the newest technology and laboratory space with the character and charm of a renovated historical structure.
 

History

The newly renovated @4240 building is making use of the existing structure of the old Western Electric-Southwestern Bell Distribution building at the corner of Duncan and Boyle Avenues. It is one of three significant historic buildings that will see new life as part of Phase II of the CORTEX development. The CORTEX district, which is home to innovative life science companies and firms who support them, covers over 240 acres in central St. Louis City. @4240 joins the Cresent building at 4340 Duncan and the Brauer Supply building at 4260 Forest Park Avenue, which will be renovated as part of Phase II and includes some new construction, a pedestrian plaza and eventually a new MetroLink station.

History of the Building

The Western Electric - Southwestern Bell Distribution House is locally significant under National Register Criterion A for Communications for its association with the post-World War II expansion of the telephone industry in St. Louis. Constructed in 1947 to serve as the main supply house and repair center for Southwestern Bell’s eastern Missouri operations, the building was a product of the tremendous growth that occurred in the telephone industry following World War II and is a reflection of the integration of the Western Electric Company and the American Bell Telephone Company, two of the most powerful corporations in the United States during the twentieth century. The Distribution House was a critical component of Southwestern Bell’s operations, providing for the efficient distribution and repair of a wide array of Western Electric products, including telephones, teletypewriter equipment, switchboards, electronic equipment, and the telephone lines themselves.

The St. Louis Distribution House serviced customers throughout Southwestern Bell’s five-state territory, which included Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, through the 1970s. The building continued to serve as a training and emergency response center for Southwestern Bell and its parent company AT&T through the 1990’s. The building is also locally significant under National Register Criterion C for architecture as a well-preserved example of an Art Moderne industrial building in St. Louis designed by The Austin Company, a nationwide engineering, design, and construction firm that specialized in large industrial structures. Constructed during a time when post-war scarcity limited the construction of new buildings throughout the country, the Distribution House’s clean lines and austere exterior, with large expanses of steel-sash windows and unadorned brick surfaces, epitomized the streamlined aesthetic of the Art Moderne style. The building’s modern architecture served as a visual representation of the Bell Companies’ pioneering role in the development of new communications technologies.


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