Friday, January 30, 2015

Inside Lawrence House

sign listing some of the amenities from the days when Lawrence House was a first-class residential hotel

Last summer, one of Uptown Update's frequent contributors took a tour of Lawrence House before the current renovations and construction began. This is his report:

"It was eerie.  A large building nearly empty.  Not unlike entering the Uptown Theater these days.  A few voices echo through hallways that were once filled with people.  The glorious bones of a decaying place. Walls bulging with water trapped behind plaster.  The overpowering smells of dampness and mustiness.  Workers with plastic tied around their feet so bedbugs would stay out of their shoes.  Incredible reminders that this was once a ritzy residential hotel. Overwhelmed by the wretched conditions.

I absent-mindedly leaned against the wall of the elevator, and three people jumped and told me to not do that because of the bugs.  They told me to go right to the basement when I got home and put all my clothes in the dryer and to run it a full cycle at the highest heat setting so I didn't bring bedbugs into my apartment.

Realizing that elderly, sick, and impoverished people paid up to $700 a month to live in those conditions is nauseating."

Here is Lawrence House just days before restoration began.

the most haunting photo I took. An empty wheelchair sits on its side
in a burned out apartment.  [UU Note: Lawrence House experienced many fires
while the Menetti family owned it. It was discovered to have no working fire alarms
and no life safety plan
in place in 2010, as well as multiple serious building violations]

the interior of the long-closed convenience store/snack shop off the lobby

the scuffed marble mosaic floors off the lobby

the brass lobby letterbox

the entrance into one of the tenant rooms. Residents were mostly not allowed
to bring furniture to their new places because landlords didn't want bedbugs

fifth floor hallway

water damage in one of the tenant apartments

top floor hallway

lighting fixure on the wall of the owner's suite on the top floor

the once-time owner's suite on the top floor
close-up of the building's top floor decorations

view from the top floor

view from the top floor

view from the top floor
fifth floor hallway wall

ceiling of the fifth floor hallway

one of the apartments on the fifth floor

water damage in one of the hallways

the kitchen sink in one of the apartments

the long-abandoned basement swimming pool with its custom wood cover

intricate tile throughout the pool room

don't break the pool rules

hanging water-logged plaster from the ceiling

To see more of the Lawrence House and the recent ongoing renovations, check out architent Moss Design's photos.


  1. That place is going to look stunning when they're done! Big thanks to Flats for rescuing this old gem... and all the others

  2. Interesting photos; they show the simple elegance Lawrence House once was as well as the fetid squalor it devolved into. I, too, hope that Flats can recreate some of its elegance.

  3. Yeah those pre renovation pics tell a sad story. It's amazing that our moral and intellectual betters pine for those days of yore where Lawrence House was in that kind of horrible shape. They organize, march and rally themselves with the giddy thoughts of once again living in an Uptown with that kind of squalor. Well as long as they don't live directly in the squalor.

    It plays into their psychological needs to be seen as saviors for the downtrodden. Never mind what they were saving the downtrodden for--a life of dystopian squalor where their saviors twerked with joy at the thoughts of an unfair universe and their battle against it.

    Gawd, that's pretentious writing even for me. Blech.

    That makes the question of who to vote for in the upcoming elections easy doesn't it? You know where Cappleman stands--against this type of squalor. You know where Davis stands--Squalor is just another word gentrifiers use. You don't know where Crawford stands--and that's as intended. Fool the voters and then get it and initiate Shiller-Lite. It plays into her apparent psychological need, based on her admitted liberal Catholic upbringing, to make up for her decade of working for the big law firm representing big corporations.

    Do you really want Uptown to be held hostage by the psychodrama of an alderman? We had that with Shiller who grew up in a very comfortable household and fought for decades to keep Uptown as a place where for many life was nasty, brutish and short because it played into her needs to be the savior and make up for her past. Blech. More pretentious writing and a reference to the departed Alderman.

    Twenty five days folks. Talk to your neighbors. Pick up a Capplesign. Start working or you may be unhappily surprised on the evening of the 24th.