History/Renovation at 2400 S. Jefferson and Roof Top Vision
In 1920 General Motors Corporation purchased the property at 2400 S. Jefferson to build St. Louis main Chevrolet dealership. In 1928 the Art Deco building opened as “Big Four Chevrolet”, 30,000 sq. ft. In 1953 the building doubled in size with a new South addition to 55,000 sq. ft. Car sales and service stopped in 1975 and Giuliani’s Carnival supply took over and operated until 1995. During the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s the neighborhood declined, crime took over, the building decayed, was boarded up, and the city was moving to demolish over 10 square blocks of the neighborhood, as a “Blight Zone”.
David Carter, father, and John Carter, son, purchased the boarded up property out of foreclosure. David was a Soulard resident and very active in Restoring St. Louis Soulard and Benton Park neighborhoods.
1995 to 2001
David Carter began renovating the building, and operated an Asbestos abatement construction company, car storage, and stuff storage from the property until his death on December 11, 2001, at which time, his son, John took over the property.
2002 to current
John Carter stepped in and continued the cleaning and rebuilding of the property working with St. Louis City Development and Alderwoman Phyllis Young to return this building to its original glory. The building was changed from a one owner use, to smaller multi-tenant spaces. Early on the building still would only attract the lowest end commercial rents for the spaces. To increase exposure and marketability, the building needed a “comfort” factor. Creating a rooftop space for groups up to 250 people to “hang out” and spend some time was the goal.
Green / Recycling 101
Nearly all, 95% of the materials used to create the rooftop space are recycled. Most picked up from trash/dumpsters from the area. Granite, stone, metal, bar equipment, tables, chairs, you get it.
2006 / 2007
Collecting large timbers from St. Louis warehouses that were demolished from fires started the rooftop trend. John collected enough timbers to design and build a shelter on the rooftop.
The flat 10,000 sq ft lower roof was in a state of self destruction from poor water drainage and design. Driving by a local kitchen counter top business, John noticed granite scraps in a dumpster, and realized these could be gathered for free and installed with mortar for a beautiful, permanent roof surface. In 2007 various sections were completed into simple yet beautiful pictures. More shelters and granite were added in 2008 and 2009. Many craftspeople assisted to create a beautiful lasting roof. John oversaw and worked on all aspects of construction, with the help of a few friends.
List of crafts folks
Art design/paintings - Jack Smith
Masonry - Brian Andrie and company, Bill Bailey, Ken Adams
Carpentry - Dave Lester, Hans Bell and staff, Charlie Stubbers, Jay Carter, J. Derek Carter, Paul Saller
Granite - Red Keel, Matt Smith, Paul Bauman, Derek, Zac, and Megkinize Carter, Big Boy Hamilton, Todd Bradford, Dave Lester, Marco Smith, Calvin Burkes, Larry
Fireplace - John Carter, Big boy Hamilton, Dave Lester
Welding/metal art - Mark McGoogan, Mark Bunch
One More Surprise
The north roof of Jefferson Underground is home to about 75,000 bees in seven hives. Carter says the bees pollinate plants in a two-mile radius around the building. A major source of pollen comes from the Missouri Botanical Gardens located near Shaw Park. Barn Swallows, 100's, nest in the Chimney at night. The Birds and the Bees phrase really applies here.