Saturday, June 04, 2016

Know Your City - St. Louis Architecture

   St. Louis is a bastion of remarkable architecture. Through history, the city has been home to many notable and innovative architectural achievements. 

Basilica of St. Louis, (The Old Cathedral)

  • The first cathedral west of the Mississippi
  • Completed in 1834
  • Named for King Louis IX, the namesake of the city
  • 95 ft. 
  • Sole survivor of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
  • Greek Revival style

The Old Courthouse

• Originally served as a federal and state courthouse, now operates as a museum
• First completed in 1828. Renovations continued until 1864
• The tallest building in St. Louis and Missouri until Union Station was built in 1896
• 192 ft.
• Housed the Dredd Scott case
• Greek Revival style

Anheuser-Busch Brewery

• Anheuser-Busch’s largest and oldest brewery
• Opened in 1852
• The six-story Brew House is the centerpiece and is crowned by a clock tower
• In 1852, annual production was about 1.8 million barrels. Today, that number is 15.8 million
• Romanesque style
• National Historic Landmark District

Eads Bridge

       • At 6,442 ft. the Eads Bridge was the longest arch bridge in the world in 1874
       • Named for designer and builder James Eads
       • Road and railway bridge
       • The first true use of steel in a major bridge
       • Encountered intense resistance from steamboat interests
       • National Historic Landmark 

Wainwright Building

       • One of the first skyscrapers in the world
       • Completed in 1891
       • Named for Ellis Wainwright, a local brewer, building contractor, and financier
       • 147 ft.
       • Palazzo style
       • National Register of Historic Places

Union Station

       • Once the world’s largest and busiest train stations
       • Completed in 1894
       • Modeled after the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh
       • Today it serves two passenger lines (Metro Link) and acts as a shopping center and hotel 
       • “The Meeting of the Waters” fountain celebrates the Mississippi and Missouri rivers 
       • Romanesque Revival style
       • National Historic Landmark

St. Louis Art Museum

      • Built for the 1904 World’s Fair
      • Architect Cass Gilbert drew inspiration from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome
      • Inscribed “Dedicated to art and free to all”
      • Six statues atop the entrance represent the principal periods in art history – Egyptian, Classic,    Gothic, Renaissance, Oriental, and Modern
      • “The Apotheosis of St. Louis” statue looms over “art hill” in front of the museum

Flight Cage

       • Purchased for the 1904 World’s Fair
       • Represented the founding of the St. Louis Zoo
       • Remains one of the largest aviaries in the world

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (The St. Louis Cathedral)

       • The mother church of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the seat of the archbishop
       • Completed in 1914
       • 227 ft. Max capacity of 5000
       • The cathedral’s crypt is the resting place of three Catholic Cardinals
       • With 41.5 million glass tesserae pieces, it has one of the largest mosaic collections in the world
       • Neo-Byzantine Romanesque Revival
Fox Theatre

       • “The Fabulous Fox Theatre” was designed as a movie palace
       • Completed in 1929. Restored in 1982
       • Now serves as a performing arts center 
       • Siamese Byzantine style
       • National Register of Historic Places
       • The Fox Theatre of Detroit is its architectural twin

St. Louis Arena

       • The city’s primary venue for large events for nearly seventy years.
       • 1929-1999
       • Originally built for Dairy Shows
       • At the time of its construction, it was the second largest indoor entertainment space in the country (behind only Madison Square Garden)
       • Home of the St. Louis Blues, St. Louis Steamers, St. Louis Hawks, and many more
       • Concerts by Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, and ZZ Top

Civil Courts Building

       • Replaced The Old Courthouse as the city’s court building
       • Part of the City Beautiful movement in the 1920s
       • Completed in 1930
       • 386 ft.
       • The pyramid on top was designed to resemble the Mausoleum of Maussollos. There are thirty-two columns which each measure nearly 42 ft. high
       • Two sphinx like creatures crown the structure


       • Missouri Botanical Garden
       • First air-conditioned greenhouse dome
       • Named one of the top 100 most significant architectural achievements by the AIA

Gateway Arch

       • A monument to the westward expansion of the United States
       • The tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere
       • Completed in 1965
       • 630 ft.
       • Eero Saarinen won a design contest for a monument in the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial on the St. Louis riverfront but died before work on the Arch began.
       • Cost $13 million ($180 million in 2013)
       • National Historic Landmark
       • Structural expressionism style


Visit the library to check out these great books (and many more) on St. Louis architecture. 

"American City: St. Louis Architecture: Three Centuries of Design" - Robert Sharoff

"St. Louis in Watercolor: The Architecture of a City" - Marilynne Bradley 

"Historic Photos of the Gateway Arch" - NiNi Harris

The Collinsville Library's "Know Your City: St. Louis History Club" meets monthly to discuss various aspects of St. Louis culture and history. The next meeting, "Famous St. Louisans", is July 6th. 

Posted by Terry Pierson, Programming Technician