By SHERI GASSAWAY
Granite City – The Tri-Cities Labor Temple, which houses United Steel Workers (USW) Locals 1899 and 68, sustained major damage from a storm that pummeled the Metro East on June 28.
USW Local 1899 spokesman Tom Ryan said the storm ripped up a corner of the building’s flat, rubber roof and flipped it over, knocking out the drop ceilings on the third floor at 2014 State St.
Ryan said cleanup efforts are under way, using fans and heaters to dry out the upstairs offices.
“They don’t know if it was a tornado or straight-line winds, but it wiped out the third-floor offices as well as our copier, fax and scanner,” Ryan said. “It’s inconvenient, hot and dirty, but we’re still functional.”
The storm, which prompted a tornado warning from the National Weather Service, wreaked havoc in the Metro East, with pummeling rains flooding streets in Granite City and powerful winds downing trees and damaging buildings.
Downed power lines left about 13,000 Ameren customers in Illinois and about 9,300 customers in Missouri without power. Most of the Illinois outages were in St. Clair County; nearly all the Missouri outages were in St. Louis or St. Louis County.
Ryan said Local 1899 is asking for patience during the cleanup and restoration efforts underway while everyday operations are continuing on the lower floors.
The Labor Temple was planned and built between 1917 and 1920 by the Tri-City Central Trades and Labor Council to house union locals that had been renting space in downtown Granite City and for, as one member put it, “an unending array of parades, smokers, balls, dances, carnivals, picnics, game and outings.”
The work was slowed by financial setbacks, an influenza epidemic and a strike at the steel mill. The final cost was $44,000. It was dedicated on Labor Day, Sept. 6, 1920, with events including the annual parade and a dance.
A directory that still hangs on the third-floor wall lists 24 locals and councils based in the building, including locals for auto mechanics, barbers, cooks and waiters and street car men, plus carpenters, machinists, painters, teamsters and electrical workers. It also housed the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Tin and Steel Workers (AA) –– forerunner of the United Steelworkers.