Chilling Photos Show Clemens House’s Devastation After July Blaze

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On July 12, the James Clemens House in north St. Louis burned down. The 1858 home, which had been owned by a relative of Mark Twain (real name: Samuel Clemens), had been acquired years earlier by controversial northside developer Paul McKee. While McKee had claimed he wanted to fix it up, urban explorers who visited the site last January found clear evidence that the developer was simply allowing the property to rot.

A group of those explorers returned to the house a week ago. They again provided photos documenting their visit to local gadfly Bill Hannegan, who shared them with the RFT.

Hannegan had long feared for the home.  "I'm not hostile to Paul McKee," Hannegan told us in 2016. "I just care about these buildings." Now his worst nightmare has come true.

Still, these images show that brick can survive just about anything. Even while the roof is gone and the rubble sits on the floor, the walls still reach to the heavens. Something else that survived the fire? A brass crucifix, which the explorers found intact inside the ruined old house.

All photos are courtesy of Bill Hannegan. Click through to see what the explorers uncovered.