Old Post Office & Custom House

The Old Post Office & Custom House was established in Saint Louis right after the Civil War because Saint Louis was one of the five fastest growing cities in the nation.  Hundreds of millions of pieces of mail were were handled in the very first year . . . and each of those pieces were taken care of by hand.  This beautiful building also housed the Federal 8th Circuit Court, which became the largest circuit in the nation.  One of the most famous cases in the 8th Circuit Court was the breakup of Standard Oil in 1909.

Old Post Office & Custom House

By Piaget, HABS photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Alfred B. Mullet designed this building in 1872, including new systems developed after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  There was heating, ventilation, and a way to use plenty of natural lighting.  When the foundation was being created, quicksand was discovered, so over 4,000 pine trees were stuck deep into the land and a four foot thick concrete slab was laid over the top.  Even today there are no cracks in the foundation.

Across from the plaza garden is the Old Post OfficeSince fire was a concern, the entire structure was built of cast iron, using wood only for hand-railing on the grand stair cases.

St. Louis, MOWhen i first arrived in St. Louis there was public interest in saving (or re-purposing)  this historic building.  There sure were plenty of ideas, and it’s taken some time, but now it is open to the public and used for plenty of great things.

Old Post Office Public LibraryI enjoy the “Quick Stop” branch of the public library. Peace and Vigilance with Eagle - “Peace and Vigilance with Eagle” by Daniel Chester French sits smack in the middle of the building, it’s worth the walk inside.  There is also a small museum that’s interesting. Grand Staircase, Old Post Office and Custom House St. LouisThe grand stairwell. Old Post Office and Custom House - tippy-top The “other side” of the building.100_2117Here is a current list of “tenants:”  Webster University,
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District
St. Louis Business Journal
St. Louis Public Library
FOCUS St. Louis
Missouri Attorney General
Missouri Secretary of State
Teach For America
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
Missouri Arts Council

The Water Tower

The Water Tower on Grand Avenue is so well know, businesses are named after it, directions are given using the Water Tower as a reference, it is on the National Historic Registry and, even though it sits in a neighborhood called “College Hill,”  most people refer to it as “The Water Tower District.”

Water Tower on North Grand Ave, St. Louis, MO

 My initial visits to the Water Tower District was to meet and help a remarkable gentleman, Otis Woodard.  He served the community, the poorest of the poor, the people who had been cast out, thrown away by society.  Otis had a cupboard open to anyone, on the side of his home and he had a sound system set up so he could hear anyone outside crying.  If he heard someone in need, or distress, day or night, he would go outside to help and comfort them.  He provided transportation for those with jobs, so they could get safely to work and home again and he found ways to help new, or expecting mothers, even offering lessons on cooking, raising and nurturing a family.

You can understand that Water Tower means way more than meets the eye.  It was the easy way to find Otis.   To me, that Water Tower speaks of Hope and a Future.

 Otis has since left us, but he leaves behind a legacy, showed us a way, provided us with “Peace Park.”  at anytime we can choose to follow his example.  (Here is a little more of Otis, just because.)

If you choose to listen to Otis, you might hear a little about how this area holds infinite treasures of the heart (did you notice the water tower in the background?).  I’ll continue to share a little about the Water Tower ItSelf.  I read some stories about how water pressure was a life changer in the 1800’s.  It’s something I did not consider, things like being able to get water to fight a fire, or be amazed when you could soak your entire body in a bathtub.

George Barnett, once considered the “Dean of St. Louis Architecture,” built the Water Tower in 1871.  It served to regulate water pressure until 1912.  For a while a light was placed on top of the tower to direct air craft.  Eventually the community decided it was important to restore the tower, it was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

Somehow this tower means more, in the hearts of humans, than first glance would tell us.

Were you going to ask?  It is 154 feet tall.  It is pretty, but maybe the beauty comes from . . . well, you can tell me.  Okay?

Higher Hopes symbolized by that Water Tower

Water Tower, intersection of Grand Avenue and 20th Street, College Hill neighborhood, St. Louis, Missouri

The Coronado a Good Save!

The Coronado, Imagined by Preston J. Bradshaw in 1923, re-imagined for the 21st Century by Amy and Amrit Gill.  What a Good Save!

Coronado Classy Welcome

I looked up the address listed as residence for William Inge (the playwright) and learned 3701 Lindell Blvd. was and is the Coronado.  I went to visit, just to see if I could get a photo of the past and wow, I was in for a surprise.

3701 Lindell, St. Louis, MO

Turns out this place officially opened in 1925 and the public loved it right away.  It was a gathering place for the elite and famous.  We didn’t have “paparazzi” like we do today, but I bet there were plenty of newspaper people there, looking for a scoop.

Every detail at the Coronado is elegant

People came for entertainment and to stay.  Coronado prices from the 1920’s were $2.50 for a room and shower, $3.50 for room with a bath and a double occupancy room started at $5.00.  I haven’t seen monthly prices.

beautiful Details all over the Coronado, St. Louis, MO

After a while the novelty wore off, the place started to fall into disrepair and went into foreclosure.  The location is perfect, though and St. Louis University purchased it in 1964.  It was turned into student dorms with a dining hall and a recreation room.  They cared for the facility until 1984, then decided to sell it to a Property Group and the building stayed empty for 15 years.

every detail invites people to enjoy special events at the Coronado

It is said the place simply fell apart and, by the time Restoration St. Louis, Inc. stepped in to keep it from complete ruin, part of the roof had collapsed, a wall had fallen in and rubble inside was chest deep.  It took at least $40 million dollars to reclaim this beautiful piece of history, but now it is one of the Premier Places to hold a special event in St. Louis.

Staying Cozy in a beautiful Setting

Not only that, the rooms have been completely refurbished and, when I was there, lines of young people about to attend St. Louis University, were crowding the rental office to tour the new apartments.  Campus is right across the street, these new places will be affordable, classy and safe digs for the future of our nation.

Ballroom and meeting Facility. Coronado, St. Louis, MO

How cool is that?

Great Save, The Coronado, St. Louis, MO

The Coronado  3701 Lindell Blvd.  St. Louis, MO  63108