Courtesy of Missouri Division of Tourism
Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Bloch Building 2
By John C. Guenther
Sir Winston Churchill eloquently summed up the importance of architecture in our lives when he said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”
Architecture is all around us. It goes well beyond mere shelter. It is a record of our history. It speaks to our aspirations and culture. It can be uplifting and inspirational in the pursuit of beauty and meaning. It makes use of the technology of its time and seeks to advance it. It expresses our relationship with nature and the use of environmental resources. Architecture can ennoble our lives.
It’s important to take a moment to observe the great architecture that surrounds us, and in particular, here in Missouri. John Albury Bryan, president of the St. Louis Architectural Club, did just that in his 1928 book Missouri’s Contribution to American Architecture.
While this brief article cannot begin to approach an effort such as Bryan’s, it is an attempt to highlight, not rank, a number of noteworthy and varied—geographically, historically, and stylistically—works of architecture across our state and to acknowledge and celebrate the architectural gems amongst us.
I am indebted to my friends and colleagues from across our state who generously expanded my initial list. They include Esley Hamilton, former preservation historian for St. Louis
A list, by definition, has a finite number. You might have additional examples to include. Indeed, it was a very difficult task to limit the list to fifty. If this article heightens your awareness of our architectural gems here in Missouri, either in your hometown or beyond, then it has been a success. If it encourages you to add to the list and record those buildings through your memories, research, writing, and photography, so much the better.
About the Author: John C. Guenther is a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design-accredited professional, practicing architect in St. Louis. He is president of the Society of Architectural Historians-St. Louis Chapter. He has taught a first-year design studio at the University of Kansas School of Architecture, Design, and Planning and a second-year design studio at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, College of Architecture at Washington University-St. Louis. In 2010, he was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects for notable contributions to the advancement of the profession of architecture in design
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111 N Fourth Street, St Louis, Missouri 63102
Eero Saarinen’s winning competition entry to commemorate the United States’ westward expansion through the Louisiana Purchase is an iconic design—an engineering feat with an inspirational aesthetic form. It is as modern today as when it was conceived sixty-eight years ago. This past October marked the fiftieth anniversary of the installation of the final section of the Arch. The museum and trams to the top were completed later.
Eero Saarinen wanted to design “a landmark of lasting significance—neither an obelisk, nor a rectangular box, nor a dome seemed right on this site and for this purpose—but at the river’s edge, a great arch did seem right.” His response was a 630-foot-tall stainless steel inverted, flattened catenary arch. The competition’s judges appreciated the design relationship between the Gateway Arch and the Old Court House to the west, noting that Saarinen’s design “by its very form is sympathetic with the Court House dome,” which lines up on an east- west axis with the Arch.
Construction is now underway to expand the Museum of Westward Expansion toward the Old Courthouse with a new west entrance and a park over the highway to unite the Arch grounds with downtown St. Louis.
The Pulitzer Arts Foundation opened in 2001 after being founded by curator and philanthropist Emily Rauh Pulitzer, who commissioned this masterwork by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando of Osaka, Japan. It was his first freestanding public work in the United States.
Tadao’s design approach favors simplicity, circuitous circulation routes, and controlled views. The Pulitzer Arts Foundation features pristine geometric forms and uncompromising boxes of beautifully finished poured-in-place concrete. It is infused with ritual and a sense of mystery, enhanced expectations, order, and serenity that result in a sanctuary for experiencing art. A central court creates a reflecting pool and a framed view of nature with controlled light reflecting into the museum gallery.
The lower level has recently been renovated to accommodate two new galleries and improved circulation. Changing exhibitions, artistic collaborations, and innovative programs keep the Pulitzer Foundation a vibrant laboratory for the study and appreciation of art.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed this 1,900-square-foot Usonian house in 1951 for artist Russell Kraus and his wife, Ruth Goetz Kraus. Wright intended Usonian houses to provide middle-class Americans with beautiful architecture at an affordable cost. The first in St. Louis, it is one of only five buildings in the state designed by Wright and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Beautifully situated on ten-and-a-half acres of wooded hillside, this home’s interior spaces extend outward under protective overhangs and elevated terraces. Its primary materials are brick, cypress wood, and glass. The interiors retain all of the original Wright-designed furnishings and fabrics.
In 2001, Russell Kraus sold the house to a nonprofit created for the purpose of saving the house. The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park, as the group is known, turned over the title of the property to the St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation but continues to preserve the house. It is open to the public by appointment.
When St. Louis brewer Ellis Wainwright needed office space for the headquarters of the St. Louis Brewing Association, he commissioned Louis Sullivan. Sullivan’s design for the 1892 Wainwright Building is considered to be the first expression of the new high-rise building type.
The building gained new life in 1981 when the State of Missouri called for its renovation and expansion into a new state office complex. The result is an exemplary work of urban design by holding the street edge with a balanced addition, which both respects and sets off the Wainwright Building.
The Wainwright Building was featured in the PBS documentary Ten Buildings that Changed America, which presented ten trend-setting works of architecture that have shaped and inspired the American landscape. Frank Lloyd Wright described the Wainwright Building as “the very first human expression of a tall, steel office building as architecture.” With this design, Sullivan realized his theory of modern, office-building design and influenced the visual compositions of future generations of high-rise buildings.
Originally designed for a community of Benedictine monks, this remarkable 1962 monastic church both transcends time and is transformational. Architect Gyo Obata conceived the building before Vatican II, and the plan and structure have a clarity and simplicity that impart a unified, uncluttered, and serene place for worship.
The design achieves a balance and synergy between monasticism and modernity. The elegance of structure, simplicity of materials, soft quality of natural light, acoustics for singing and chanting, and central focus on the altar all contribute to the theological heart of worship, whether in community or in quiet contemplation.
Although the Priory Chapel now serves as the church for the parish of Saint Anselm at the St. Louis Abbey, it has remained mostly unchanged for its fifty-four years of service.
The Thomas Dunn Learning Center is a community institution that educates low-income adults free of charge. The fourteen-thousand-square- foot building was designed by Bill Bowersox in 1990 and contains offices for administration, a library, classrooms, media presentation rooms, and storage and outdoor gardens.
The exterior of the center uses masonry and clay tile to maintain architectural consistency with the park in which it is located. The south side of the building forms a masonry garden wall that runs the full length of the building. The wall also serves as an armature for climbing vines, which create a picturesque backdrop for the much-prized alley of mature pin oaks, and screens the parking lot from the rest of the neighborhood.
It has received numerous awards including the Russell H. Jost Design Excellence Award, the City of St. Louis Urban Design Award, an Honor Award for Design Excellence for the Central States Region American Institute of Architects, and the 2015 Distinguished Building Award from American Institute of Architects-St. Louis.
The Central Branch of the St. Louis Public Library—the crown jewel of the St. Louis Public Library system—was made possible by a major donation from Andrew Carnegie. Architect Cass Gilbert designed the building in 1907. He also designed the Minnesota State Capitol, the Woolworth Building in New York City, and the United States Supreme Court Building.
The original three-story building was designed in a Beaux-Arts style, referencing the Italian Renaissance palazzo. It featured a ceremonial granite stair, a vaulted reception foyer, and a centrally located Great Hall. The hall is surrounded by five wings—four dedicated to public reading rooms and the fifth, the north wing, to a multistory depository of books that was closed to the public.
In 2012, a $70-million restoration designed by CannonDesign St. Louis increased public space, modernized the library, restored the interiors, and created a dramatic new north entry atrium lobby in the former book stack area.
The most important French Colonial building, the Louis Bolduc House is a prime example of poteaux sur solle (posts-on-sill) construction, which used vertical oak timbers set about six inches apart and infilled with bousillage (a mixture of mud, straw, and horsehair) that hardened to a cement-like texture. Diagonal timbers help provide additional stability for the walls. The steeply sloped roof is covered with cedar shakes and framed with heavy, hand-hewn Norman trusses with mortise and tenon joinery. A porch wraps around the house and provides shade and protection to the living quarters. Windows allow for cooling cross ventilation. A separate freestanding kitchen is located to the rear to help prevent fires starting in the house.
Louis Bolduc, a successful merchant and trader, began constructing the house in 1792 with a large, approximately seven-hundred-square- foot room with a large fireplace for family activities and room for storage above it. In 1793, he added a large hallway and sleeping quarters, about the same size. The sleeping chambers were most likely divided with a wall for privacy.
A perimeter stockade fence and gardens have been reconstructed on the site. This meticulously restored home is now a museum and a National Historic Landmark.
9Broadway and Main St., Joplin, Missouri 64801
Although Joplin Union Depot has been vacant for years, it is one of renowned architect Louis Curtiss’s most important surviving buildings, both for its architecture and engineering.
In January 1912, Popular Mechanics made note of the station for its use of flint and limestone tailings from mining waste piles in the concrete mixture. Having served a number of railroad lines, it was in operation from July 1911 to November 1969, when the last train, the Southern Belle, visited the station. The station has slowly deteriorated since then. The Joplin Union Depot was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
R.L. Fischer & Associates designed this modern church in 1960. In a design statement at the American Institute of Architects St. Louis Chapter Awards Program that same year, the architects wrote: “The site is a narrow triangle surrounded entirely by streets. Because of budget limitations the construction is simple and straightforward. The entire design of the building is intended to exclude the distractions of the outside and make the entire building a quiet sanctuary. The large forecourt at the entry to the sanctuary turns the church into its own property, affording a dignified approach to the worshipper.”
The plan grows out of the building site, resulting in a simple, direct, and elegant design. The First Community Church was severely damaged by the Joplin tornado of 2011. However, it was renovated with some changes in 2012.
The Empire Bank is a classic modern design by Bruce J. Graham of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill LLP. Built in 1964, the structural frame of exposed steel surrounds large expanses of glass—a very simple, elegant design—and pays homage to the design influence of Mies van der Rohe. This strong organizing idea makes efficient use of the available site, tucking the drive-through bank functions neatly under the upper level office functions, all within a dignified, beautifully proportioned building.
Bruce J. Graham also led the design of Chicago’s first two hundred-story towers: the John Hancock Center in 1970 and the Sears Tower in 1974.
Named in honor of Allen Temple, a longtime head of the science department, Temple Hall was built in 1971 and accommodates classrooms, laboratories, and undergraduate and graduate research. This cast-in-place concrete science building on the Missouri State campus is a great example of and reference to the architecture of Louis Kahn. The architecture firm, Kivett & Myers, also designed Kauffman Stadium, Arrowhead Stadium, and the Kansas City airport, among other projects.
Named in honor of the major donor and former senator George Williams, the Williams Memorial Chapel is an outstanding example of neo- Gothic architecture. Chicago architect Edward Jannson donated this design to the College of the Ozarks after another failed to build it.
Seating a thousand, the chapel was built in 1958 and is twelve thousand square feet, with an eighty-foot-high vaulted ceiling. Rock from the school’s quarry forms the chapel exterior. Students and local craftsmen worked together to create the ornate, seasoned, bleached-white oak woodwork interior. Impressive stained glass windows depict Bible scenes. The Hyer Bell Tower rises above and marks this chapel on the thousand-acre campus.
141130 Walnut St, Kansas City, Missouri
The first glass and metal curtain wall building in the United States, the six-story Boley Building was designed by the inventive and creative, Canadian-born architect Louis Curtiss. Built in 1908 for the clothing store of Charles N. Boley, it offered abundant glass for the display of merchandise. In 1963, Progressive Architecture wrote:
“The Boley Building in Kansas City was the masterpiece of Louis Curtiss. Pointing the way for the future and departing from established custom, it is enclosed in flat planes of glass and steel and is conspicuously lacking in the ornamentation and overhanging cornices so popular in 1908. It was considered stark and barren, even ugly, but in reality it anticipated by more than forty years, the entire range of metal and glass curtain wall construction that became architectural idiom in the 1950s.”
The use of the glass curtain wall predates by nine years Willis Polk’s far more famous Hallidie Building in San Francisco. The Boley Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
Striking a delicate and respectful balance between old and new, the new Bloch Building, named in honor of Henry W. Bloch and his late wife Marion, was the winning competition entry designed by Steven Holl in 2007.
Holl described his concept as “the stone and the feather,” where the 1933 original, formal, classical Beaux-Arts stone museum (the stone) is complemented by the new 2007 addition (the feather) with ample natural light through channel glass walls, free circulation, and flowing space—all set to the east of the original. The 870-foot-long, slender extension features sculptural glass lenses that project through grass-covered roofs. The new building joins the original at the east base of the Nelson-Atkins Museum, brilliantly integrating with and improving the original museum’s circulation patterns.
The Bloch Building features a dramatic lobby and galleries with soaring volumes of curved walls bathed with natural light during the day and glowing at night. It houses the museum’s modern and African art collections. It is a modern building that is truly expressive of our time.
161200 W. 55th St., Kansas City, Missouri
Built in 1913, the Bernard Corrigan House, considered to be Louis Curtiss’s residential masterpiece, is an expansive, steel-framed, reinforced concrete home that combines Prairie-style design features and the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright with surface ornaments, patterns, and interiors inspired by art nouveau, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and the Vienna Secession. The pergola-like elements and supporting brackets reflect the interest in Japanese forms and styles in the West in the late nineteenth century.
As beautiful as the architecture of the building is, the art glass in the windows and doors is integral to the overall design. As noted in the National Register of Historic Places nomination, “The wisteria motif of the stained glass and the stylized facsimile of the plant in stone epitomizes art nouveau’s emphasis on dynamic, curvilinear movement, fluid and sinuous like Nature herself, and illustrate the inspiration which the art nouveau movement gave Curtiss, both directly and filtered through the works of others, especially Sullivan, Wright, and Louis Comfort Tiffany.”
Known for his inventive and progressive designs, Louis Curtiss has been referred to as the Frank Lloyd Wright of Kansas City by Trudy Faulkner, a preservationist and past chair of the Historic Preservation Committee of the American Institute of Architects-Kansas City Chapter. In his thirty-seven year career, Curtiss designed more than two hundred buildings; ninety-nine were built. Thirty-four of his buildings still survive, including twenty-one in Kansas City.
The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is in private ownership and not open to the public.
175305 Cherry St., Kansas City, Missouri
Bruce Goff designed this home in 1964 for James and Betty Nicol and their “family of individuals.” To do this, he created a highly geometric, honeycomb plan with a central, octagonal living area ringed by eight rooms in various colors to reflect each family member’s particular taste. The house has multiple skylights and triangular windows. This residence is a great example of Goff’s singular style of organic architecture while also being client- and site-specific.
Bruce Alonzo Goff—an architectural prodigy born in Alton, Kansas— was known for his organic, eclectic, and often flamboyant designs for buildings across the Midwest.
During his career, he realized almost 150 built projects in fifteen states of more than 500 he designed. As a teacher and chair at the University of Oklahoma School of Architecture, Goff influenced a new generation of architects.
The Nicol Residence is privately owned and not open to the public.
1820 W. Ninth St., Kansas City, Missouri
Standing 180 feet tall, the New York Life Building was built in 1890 and is considered the first skyscraper in Kansas City. In fact, it featured the city’s first elevators. Architecture firm McKim, Mead, & White’s design for the New York Life Building employs the Italianate Renaissance Revival style and has beautiful, soaring proportions resulting from its H-shaped foot- print. A monumental, two-ton, cast bronze bald eagle sculpted by Louis St. Gaudens is perched above the main entry, which is flanked by the brick and brownstone wings of the tower.
The New York Life Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. Abandoned by 1988, it underwent a $35-mil- lion restoration that updated energy, communications, and environmental systems and a ten-story, north in-fill addition to improve circulation, functionality, and safety. In 2010, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph purchased the building, which now houses the diocese’s administrative offices and the local branch of Catholic Charities.
The building has received recognition from the American Institute of Architects, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Architecture Magazine.
Constructed in 1860, this—the third courthouse to be built in New London—is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Missouri and an excellent example of the Greek Revival period. This architectural movement was an appropriate style for a newly formed nation and government buildings because it referenced Greece—the world’s earliest democracy. With this style being widely popular, especially in Virginia and Pennsylvania, it was a natural fit for the Ralls County farm population that came from those eastern states.
Its facade features four Doric columns and served as the model for the Missouri Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair and the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, both in 1939. The second-floor houses a beautiful circuit court room.
Truman State University’s Pickler Library was constructed in 1925 with an addition in 1967. The 1990 renovation and expansion, designed by Ittner & Bowersox, organizes the library’s collections in an architecturally cohesive landmark building. A new building skin now wraps around the existing library structure that has been renovated to house classrooms and facility operations. A new, naturally lit, three-story atrium provides places to study. Vertical circulation and bridges between old and new allow visitors to appreciate both. Pickler Library now serves three times as many students as before and is the most popular place on campus to study.
The St. Mary Aldermanbury is a reconstructed building by one of the greatest baroque architects, Sir Christopher Wren. St. Mary Aldermanbury is representative of one of the greatest architectural achievements of that era— the design and construction of more than fifty churches to replace those lost in the Great Fire of London.
The current structure is made up of three elements: the reconstructed Church of St. Mary Aldermanbury, the museum located below the Church, and the Breakthrough sculpture made from eight sections of the Berlin Wall and designed by Edwina Sandys, granddaughter of Winston Churchill, to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall and the “Sinews of Peace” speech that Churchill gave in Fulton in 1946.
The original Church of St. Mary Aldermanbury was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren from 1672 to 1677. The cupola was added to the tower in 1679. During World War II, St. Mary Aldermanbury—along with thirteen other Wren-designed churches—was once more destroyed by fire, this time by a German incendiary bomb. With only a blackened shell and tower remaining, it was slated for demolition twenty years later. At this time, Westminster College stepped in to offer to save and reconstruct the church in honor of Churchill. After four years of planning and raising financial support, the stone blocks were labeled and shipped to Fulton. A groundbreaking ceremony for the reconstruction was held in April, 1964, with President Harry Truman in attendance. The church was finally rebuilt and dedicated in May 1969, more than three hundred years after the Great Fire of London destroyed it.
This small, elegant chapel sits within a simple, geometric cube topped by a pyramidal roof and spire. Its four vestibule entries speak to a sanctuary that reaches out to all in all directions. Upon entering, you circulate the perimeter of the worship space, which is separated from the entries, hall, and outside world by a perforated brick screen wall. Terraced seats surround the altar, un- der a central skylight, corner skylights, and an elegant structural wood frame roof. Together, these elements create a place of solitude and contemplation.
The students and faculty at Stephens College requested a building representing many faiths and the commonality of all of their religions, as well as the concept of time and eternity. They chose Eliel Saarinen for this work. He designed a round building with a dome to emphasize the idea of eternity and a surrounding reflecting pool to further separate visitors from the outside world and reinforce this as a place of solitude and spirituality.
Eliel Saarinen passed away on July 1, 1950. With a shortage of funding and the commencement of the Korean War, the project was put on hold until 1953, when Eliel’s son, Eero Saarinen, who designed the Arch, was engaged to design the chapel. The result was this beautiful redesign and reinterpretation.
Built in 2002, the Columbia Public Library is a noteworthy design by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates. The 102,000-square-foot library is housed within a dynamic, dramatic cylindrical form. The design is a prime example of the architecture firm’s approach: collages of styles, colliding forms, and superimposing one plan idea onto another to yield geometric and dramatic interior spaces. Large skylights are “carved” from the curved, masonry cylinder to introduce abundant natural light. Shifted grids, diagonals, and a range of materials, colors, and textures result in a more informal and humanistic architecture. The corner site at Broadway and Garth Avenue is also arranged in a highly geometric plan, with the building’s crescent shaped plan and half-circle parking lot forming a complete circle. Paving patterns emanate outward from the building and its entry.
Considered one of the most beautiful and finest surviving examples of mid- nineteenth-century Greek Revival architecture in the state, the William B. Sappington House was the centerpiece of Prairie Park, a six-hundred-acre plantation three miles southwest of Arrow Rock. This country mansion is grand in scale and architectural refinement. Its sixty-foot-wide north facade features a central, two-story portico with gable pediment. A roof top deck offers distant views of the estate. A glass cupola occupies the center of the deck. Large interior spaces feature fourteen-foot high ceilings.
Built by William B. Sappington between 1843 and 1845, the residence was continuously occupied by the family until 1910. In his time, William was a well-respected businessman and community leader, and his family was prestigious. The privately owned house is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and can be visited by appointment only.
An unusual surviving Greek Revival theater, Thespian Hall is a notable mid-nineteenth century civic, theatrical, and cultural center.
Upon completion, the hall opened on July 4, 1857, with a celebratory ball. The basement served as a reading room, the main level was a theater, and the upper level housed city hall. During the Civil War, it served as barracks for troops, a hospital, and horse stable. In 1901, architect J. L. Howard renovated and expanded the building by twenty-five feet. With the decline in popularity of plays, it was transformed into a movie theater in 1912.
Over the years, it has been home to everything from political events to a German singing society. It is now the home of the annual Missouri River Festival of the Arts.
The first building of national significance built in the state, the Old Cathedral was completed in 1834, following a one-room log church in 1764, a second larger log church built in 1776, and a third brick church designed by Gabriel Paul at the request of Reverend Bishop DuBourg. It was built on Cathedral Block, located near the corner of Second and Market Streets. Bishop DuBourg anticipated continued use the brick cathedral after the present stone cathedral was built nearby on the same block, but it burned in 1835.
Auguste Chouteau, co-founder of St. Louis, designated Cathedral Block in 1764, and along with the Public Square and Company Block, it was one of the three largest and most important central blocks in town. The Old Cathedral was a focal point of the city for religion, civic activity, and education. When the Old Cathedral was completed in the autumn of 1834, it stood 136 feet long, eighty-four feet wide, and forty feet tall. An excellent example of Greek Revival architecture, its stone façade with four Doric style columns is made of Joliet stone from Joliet, Illinois. A twenty-foot square tower above the pediment rises forty feet high with an octagonal steeple rising another forty-five feet high.
In a meeting of St. Louis civic leaders in December 1933, the idea of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial surrounding the Old Cathedral was approved. President Franklin Roosevelt then authorized the Department of the Interior to acquire the tract of the original city settlement between Poplar Street and the Eads Bridge west to Third Street. The Old Cathedral and its grounds remained intact while some forty blocks of historic riverfront buildings were removed to make way for the proposed national memorial.
After serving St. Louis for 124 years, the Old Cathedral underwent a restoration and expansion from 1958 to 1965. Designed by Murphy & Mackey, Architects, a modest one-story stone masonry wall addition to the north and east discreetly hides a museum containing many artifacts from the early days of the Catholic Church in St. Louis and a rectory for the priests. In 1961, Pope John XXIII designated the Old Cathedral as the “Basilica of Saint Louis, The King.”
A renovation and restoration of the Old Cathedral, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with the museum and rectory have been recently completed by Mackey Mitchell Architects.
More ambitious than most state capitol buildings in its day, Henry Singleton designed the Old Courthouse in 1839 in a Greek Revival-style with four wings and a central dome. It incorporated the 1828 original brick Federal style courthouse, designed by Morton and Laveille, in the east wing of the new building and contained twelve courtrooms. The east wing was removed and rebuilt by Robert S. Mitchell in 1851. The original classical revival style dome was replaced in 1861 with a design by William Rumbold of a cast iron, copper-covered Italian Renaissance- style dome modeled after the dome in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The dome above the US Capitol used the same reference model and was built at the same time.
When the city and county of St. Louis split in 1877, the Old Courthouse became the sole property of the city. The Old Courthouse was abandoned in 1930 after the completion of the Civil Courts Building. The Old Courthouse became part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in 1940. It has had numerous restorations since then. Although high-rise office buildings today flank it, the Old Courthouse was the tallest building in St. Louis until the completion of St. Louis Union Station in 1894.
281820 Market Street, St Louis, Missouri 63103
German-born Theodore Link, who came to St. Louis in 1873, designed one of the greatest train stations in the country, St. Louis Union Station. Link was one of only ten architects from around the country invited to submit designs for the limited competition. When completed in 1894, it was the largest station of its time and considered an architectural jewel.
Union Station is composed of the Headhouse, the Midway, and the Train Shed. The Richardsonian Romanesque Headhouse features the Grand Hall with its sixty-five-foot high barrel vault with sweeping arches, gold leaf, frescoes, and stained glass. Above the main entrance, the “Allegorical Window”—executed by the St. Louis firm Davis and Chambers and designed by Sylvester Annan, son of architect Thomas Annan—features three women representing the main train stations of the day: New York, St. Louis, and San Francisco.
The Midway, located between the Headhouse and Train Shed, was a 70 feet wide, 610 feet long connecting concourse. Passengers lined up here to board trains at one of 32 boarding gates, which served more than 100,000 passengers a day in its peak usage.
Designed by George H. Pegram, the Train Shed was the largest train shed ever built, covering thirty-two tracks and over twelve acres with his patented truss structure. Originally seven hundred feet long, six hundred feet wide, and 140 feet tall, it was expanded another 180 feet in length to accommodate the increased traffic of the 1904 World’s Fair. Ten more tracks and butterfly shed roofs were added to the west of the Train Shed in 1929 to handle still more train traffic.
The Train Shed and Headhouse received National Historic Landmark designation in 1970. After a long period of vacancy, it was reopened in 1985. The $150-million renovation designed by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum Architects included a 539-room hotel, shopping mall, restaurants, and food court. Federal historic rehabilitation tax credits were used to transform Union Station. Recently, ownership has changed and further modifications have been made to the property.
Millionaire, art collector and socialite, Ellis Wainwright inherited the Wainwright Brewing Company and later served as president of the St. Louis Brewing Association.
When Wainwright’s wife, Charlotte A. Dickson, died of peritonitis at the age of thirty-four shortly after the completion of the Wainwright Building, he turned to Sullivan once more for the design of a tomb for his wife and himself. This tomb is a masterpiece of exquisite geometry with its dome resting upon a cube of carved limestone. Simplicity, restraint, and refinement set it apart. Bands of stylized plant carvings, each unique to each façade and representing each of the four seasons, outline the cubic base. A graceful, welcoming terrace embraces the visitor. Bronze doors and window grills extend the geometric designs.
The restraint of the exterior gives way to a highly ornamented interior of marble, tile, and mosaics. The dome ceiling features a beautiful mosaic design with a central golden sun burst pattern surrounded by winged angels in blue and purple.
Ellis joined his wife in death in 1924. His grave bears the words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson; “O for the touch of a vanished hand / And the sound of a voice that is still” while Charlotte’s grave bears the words of the nineteenth century English poet, Anna Laetitia Barbauld: “Say not Good Night / but in some brighter clime/ Bid me Good morning.”
Frank Lloyd Wright was in Sullivan’s office at the time and is said to have taken much credit for the design of this magnificent tomb. The tomb was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
Known locally as the Fabulous Fox, it has been the setting of a wide array of concerts, plays, and various performances since its opening on January 31, 1929, as a 4,500 seat movie house. C. Howard Crane designed twin theaters for Fox, in St. Louis and in Detroit. When the theaters opened in 1929, reporters described the Fox Theatres as "... awe-inspiring fashioned after Hindu Mosques of Old India, bewildering in their richness and dazzling in their appointments … striking a note that reverberated around the architectural and theatrical worlds." In the early 1980s, Leon and Mary Strauss formed the Fox Associates, which acquired and restored the theater. The Fabulous Fox continues to delight patrons to this day, from its dramatic, exotic lobby to its magnificent performance hall to its smallest detail.
One of the earliest pre-World War II modern churches anywhere in the world, this uncompromising modern style design is the work of the partnership of Frederick Dunn and Charles Nagel. The two-hundred-seat, $75,000 church was dedicated on January 15, 1939.
In his modern design, Dunn eliminated most ornamentation to make the church modest and dignified. The white brick church and flanking buildings form a beautifully scaled entry plaza. This elegantly simple building features the work of many notable local artists and artisans. Sheila Burlingame, a student of sculptor Carl Milles of Cranbrook Academy, sculpted the statue of St. Mark on the entry facade while the interior features stained glass designed by Robert Harmon and created by Emil Frei Studio. Some of the windows on the south side, whose social justice themes were very controversial when they were new, deal with race relations, industrial relations and opposition to totalitarianism.
Recently, accessibility to the main level of the worship space, which is a half level above grade, was addressed by a well-proportioned, glass-walled addition housing an elevator and stairwell. The simplicity of the design by Powers Bowersox Associates Inc. reflects the simplicity of the church and preserves St. Mark’s historic grandeur and style.
With the gift of this beautiful site on the southern edge of the Missouri Botanical Gardens, Frederick Dunn designed this modern masterpiece whose brick and stone walls reference the historic perimeter stone wall of the Missouri Botanical Gardens and provide a sense of mystery beyond.
Once inside the building, views open to nature within an interior garden with a circular roof opening and a large meeting room with glass walls opening to the gardens to the north. The pink granite grill embedded into the wall was a fountain, which is no longer functioning, designed by William Talbot.
The original building was expanded significantly between 1997 and 1999 with a glass-walled addition designed by Smith Dalia Architects of Atlanta, Georgia and housing an expanded Kellogg Hall, Walters Conference Room, member services, and other support spaces.
The original building received the 1995 Twenty-Five Year Building Award from AIA St. Louis.
3311 South Grand Blvd., St Louis, Missouri 63104
Built as a stand pipe to absorb surges from the reciprocating water pumps and ensure consistent water pressure, the Compton Hill Water Tower was designed in 1893 by Harvey Ellis for George R. Mann. As one of the greatest journeyman draftsmen-architects, Ellis passed through St. Paul, Minnesota, St. Joseph, and St. Louis like a creative comet, producing distinguished designs for buildings and competitions. This was to be Ellis’ last Midwestern design before he returned home to Rochester, New York, in 1893. Construction for the 179-foot-tall water tower was not completed until 1898.
As an architect, artist, and architectural delineator, Ellis was widely published and retained national influence. He was considered to be the link between H. H. Richardson and the masters of the Prairie School. His design for the Compton Water Tower illustrates his design philosophy: “not symmetry but balance.” It features his signature circular mini-tower interlocking with the larger square brick tower. The square tower transitions to an octagon to support the dome.
Situated at the east end of Shaw Boulevard, this beautiful tower serves as a focal point for the neighborhood. One of three remaining water towers in St. Louis and seven nationally, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Known for his early expressionist designs and the development of dynamic functionalism in his designs for department stores and cinemas, Erich Mendelsohn developed a large and successful architectural practice in Berlin, Germany. With the rise of the Nazis in Germany, he fled with his family in 1933, emigrating to England, then to Palestine, and finally to the United States in 1941.
B’nai Amoona Synagogue was Mendelsohn’s first commission in the United States, and the first of eight synagogues in this country. He set a new direction with his design for flexible floor plans, expandable worship space, and a modern, simple and symbolically rich language of forms.
The main program elements were a sanctuary: the House of God; a secular assembly room called the House of the People, which could be opened to the sanctuary to create an expanded worship space for High Holy Day services and a school; the House of the Torah, which was used for the education and the recreation. With the High Holy Days commencing at sundown, the west facing window and dramatic overhang mark the passage of time, beautifully integrating architecture, the natural environment, and worship.
COCA – Center of Creative Arts was founded in 1986 and moved into the former B’nai Amoona Synagogue when its congregation moved to a new location. Trivers Associates designed an 11,000 square foot addition in 2004 to meet the program requirements of center.
359590 Litzsinger, Ladue, Missouri
William Bernoudy was one of the forty charter apprentices in the Taliesin Fellowship that Frank Lloyd Wright opened in 1932. Bernoudy returned to St. Louis in 1935 and teamed with architect Edouard Mutrux in 1938 to begin his fifty-year architectural career. Henry Bauer was made a full partner in 1959 as the firm transitioned to Bernoudy-Mutrux-Bauer. A leading advocate of Wright's modern organic architecture, Bernoudy was a widely admired St. Louis architect, playing a vital role in the architecture of St. Louis and the surrounding area.
His 1950 residence features a protective, extended hexagonal roof which cantilevers twelve feet beyond the end walls of brick and glass and is anchored by a central masonry fireplace. The plan spatially integrates and extends the interiors with the site resulting in one of his most beautiful, yet simple residential designs. The house is currently in private ownership and not open to the public.
367800 Maryland Ave., Clayton, Missouri 63105
Harris Armstrong’s 1935 design for a dentist office building for Dr. Leo M. Shanley is one of the earliest Modernist buildings in the St. Louis area. It was awarded a silver medal at the 1937 Paris Exposition of Art and Technology. This international recognition established Armstrong as modernist leader in Midwest.
Armstrong’s design expressed the future of medicine and dentistry in this modern facility as he addressed the needs of the orthodontist. Beautifully integrated with its sloping site, the building’s entry is through a courtyard which leads visitors to a south facing waiting room with built-in furniture, and custom-designed light fixtures. Although part of a modern, streamlined, functional, and efficient orthodontist’s office, the feeling imparted is more like a comfortable living room than a medical waiting room.
The main level houses a consulting room, two operating rooms, a laboratory, and photo room. This wing is part of the overall asymmetrical composition of cubic volumes, composed of stuccoed concrete walls, glass block, and horizontal window bands, resulting in an early expression of the International style, with references to Le Corbusier and Richard Neutra.
No longer owned by the Shanleys, the building was recently renovated and altered. It remains in use as an office building and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Situated in the Anheuser-Busch Brewery industrial complex, the six-story Brew House is a red brick, Germanic Romanesque style building with rounded arches, crenelated towers, and elaborate details. The building—designed by the architecture firms of E. Jungenfeld & Co. and Widmann, Walsh & Boisselier—features a multi-storied chandelier in the form of a hops vine, intricate iron work, and abundant natural light.
38Selma Farm Lane, Crystal City, Missouri
The most celebrated Italianate House in the state, George I. Barnett, an English trained St. Louis architect, designed the home for Ferdinand Kennett, a Mississippi River steamboat operator, based upon North Italian Renaissance country homes.
Built for $125,000 and of gray limestone, Selma Hall features a four-story square tower. The Kennett family occupied the home until the Civil War, when boats—mistaking their home for a fort—frequently fired upon the house from the Mississippi. The family fled to St. Louis for safety.
After a succession of owners and restorations, the home was destroyed by fire in March 1939, but was later beautifully rebuilt by Nagel & Dunn to its approximate original appearance. The estate is currently in private ownership and not open to the public.
39Bushberg Rd, Pevely, Missouri
Considered the best Gothic Revival House in the state, Greystone’s walls were built of large stone blocks quarried from the property and stone trim for windows and arches transported from Ste. Genevieve in barges. Later research suggests that Colonel Emory Foster built Greystone in 1867. Isidor Bush, who acquired the property in 1869, established the largest grape propagating nursery in America, producing 60,000 gallons of wine annually on 175 acres. Between 1875 and 1885, Isadore Bush, along with his business partner, Gustave Meissner, sold at least five million vines of fresh root stock from the Bushberg Nursery to France after phylloxera devastated the vines of the French wine industry in the early 1870s.
This manor home overlooks the Mississippi River. The house is currently in private ownership and not open to the public.
Considered one of Richard P. Stahl's best works, this mid-century modernist church has been added to over the years, but basically following Stahl's original master plan. The original sanctuary is beautiful and in balance with a series of low, single-story classroom wings. The latest additions, including some additional pre-Kindergarten classrooms, are sensitive to the original scheme. They were designed by Dennis Spencer, a former employee of Stahl's, and executed by Butler Rosenbury & Partners.
415200 E. Division St., Springfield, Missouri 65802
Originally from Springfield, Jim Lambeth was a professor at University of Arkansas for years and a pioneer in the solar architecture movement of the 1970s. He also designed a hotel and two apartment complexes in Springfield with solar heated swimming pools.
This house and guest house project is a Post-Modernism design, complete with purple stucco columns and lots of glass block. The front door even depicts a site plan of the property and floor plan of the residence outlined by the woods and Pearson Creek. The main house offers great views from its hilltop site, while the guest house cantilevers over Pearson Creek. The home was featured in the design book Sundancing: The Art and Architecture of James Lambeth. The home is in private ownership and not open to the public.
Designed by CannonDesign St. Louis, this 2012 university recreation center unifies the campus student life core of 1950s-era residential buildings, the student union, the arena, and a loose collection of buildings that contain the university’s athletic programs.
The recreation center—conceived as a crystalline, geologic form in the landscape—is strategically sited to serve as a threshold to unify these two campus zones. The pedestrian way brings students to the entrance in the center of the building, close to all functions, which are highly visible and inviting.
This iconic chapel is Springfield’s oldest stone building. Named in honor of Mrs. Valerie G. Stone of Malden, Massachusetts, its primary donor and the widow of a wealthy industrialist, the chapel was begun in 1880 but destroyed by fire in 1882, just before completion. Using the original foundations, it took ten years to rebuild.
Over the years, it has served Drury University and the community as a chapel, music conservatory, college library, and offices as well as a place for public meetings, commencements, concerts, lectures and weddings.
This beautiful gothic revival chapel is built of load bearing limestone walls supporting a heavy timber wood roof structure. In 1982, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Liberty Memorial is a monumentally-scaled Beaux Arts Classical design composed of a pair of limestone buildings, Memory Hall and Exhibition Hall; a 217-foot-tall towering shaft, Liberty Memorial Tower; sculptures, of four Guardian Spirits, two Assyrian Sphinxes, and two Cinerary urns. The Great Frieze bas-relief; decorative bronze art; and dramatic open vistas. It took an impressive team of architects led by Harold Van Buren Magonigle, landscape architects, artists, and civic leaders to create this compelling monument to those who sacrificed their lives during World War I and a remembrance of those who survived. The orientation of the architecture and the site are rotated eleven degrees off of true north in reference to the signing of the World War I Armistice at 11 AM on November 11, 1918.
In the late 1990s, plans were undertaken to restore and expand the Liberty Memorial by building an 80,000-square-foot, state-of-the art underground museum and research center to present a comprehensive interpretation of World War I. ASAI Architecture won a competition to reconstruct the memorial and its deteriorated concrete frame and build the new National World War I Museum beneath it. A new, 40,000-square-foot addition accommodates a new entry, lobby, gathering spaces and auditorium to the south of the original memorial.
The Museum was designated by Congress as the United States’ official World War I Museum in 2004. It opened to the public on December 2, 2006, as the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial. The site earned National Historic Landmark status in 2006.
Municipal Auditorium is an excellent example of Streamline Moderne and Art Deco architecture. This large, limestone clad, multi-purpose facility is composed of three halls: the Arena, Music Hall, and Little Theatre. All three are efficiently arranged within its modern, restrained, and well-proportioned cubic volume.
Excellent Art Deco details abound throughout. Architectural Record said it was "one of the ten best buildings of the world that year" in 1935, and the Princeton Architectural Press said in 2000 that it was “one of the five hundred most important architectural works in the United States.” Municipal Auditorium is connected to the H. Roe Bartle Convention Center by way of skywalks.
With funding for a new, larger church begun in 1937 and then delayed by World War II, Bishop O'Hara eventually purchased a plot of land on the southwest corner of E. 52nd Street and Troost Avenue in 1944. Francis Barry Byrne and Joseph Shaughnessy were chosen to create the new church building in 1947. Artist and sculptor, Alfonso Iannelli was given free reign over the interiors and created the monumental sculpture of St. Francis at the front of the church, hewn from large blocks of stone, carved and textured to form the features of St. Francis, his robe and his attributes.
The design of the church was unusual: the plan is shaped like a fish – one of the oldest liturgical symbols of Christ. The church also features blue stained glass windows by Emil Frei Studio, statuary and the Stations of the Cross by Alfonso Iannelli, and a bright, primary color scheme by Annette Cremin Byrne. The resultant interior is a powerful elliptical form, 190-feet wide, with a central linear cove light in the ceiling, all of which draw focus to the distant altar.
The Lafayette County Courthouse was built in 1847 on the new Main Street in Lexington to serve Lafayette County. The magnificent Classic Greek Revival design by William Dougherty is said to be the oldest courthouse in continuous use west of the Mississippi River. During the First Battle of Lexington in the Civil War, a cannonball struck the upper left Ionic column on September 19, 1861. The Courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The most spectacular Second Empire house in the state, this thirty-one room mansion was built by Colonel and Mrs. Harvey Vaile in 1881. Amenities included nine marble fireplaces, spectacular painted ceilings, flushing toilets, a built-in 6,000 gallon water tank, and a 48,000 gallon wine cellar. The horse stable had mahogany paneled stalls. There was also a greenhouse and four full time gardeners.
The Vaile Mansion was designed by Asa Beebe Cross. Born in Camden, New Jersey, in 1826, Cross moved to St. Louis in the 1850s where he studied architecture and was associated with a lumber company there. Cross then moved to Kansas City in 1858 where he opened a lumber company, A. B. Cross & Co. in partnership with St. Louis colleagues. Cross gradually shifted his business towards architecture and construction, producing a distinguished body of work in a variety of building types.
The Vaile Mansion is open to the public from April through October and again through the holiday season.
49105 N. Nineteenth St., St. Joseph, Missouri 64501
Although originally designed with heavy stone walls in mind, renowned architect Harvey Ellis transformed the final design for the McAlister House into a primarily brick and sandstone Romanesque structure with an arched entry, a conical roofed engaged tower, a half-round bay window, and second floor loggia. Harvey Ellis designed for Eckel & Mann, Architects while in St. Joseph. The house is currently in private ownership and not open to the public.
50Ledge Drive, Shell Knob, Missouri
The Lutz Residence is a 2,600 square foot, two-bedroom house situated in the treetops overlooking Table Rock Lake. This design of 1976-77 occupies an important place in E. Fay Jones’ work.
Fay Jones was interested in architecture from a young age because he saw a short movie on Frank Lloyd Wright. During his childhood, he designed and built his own treehouse. He went on to study architecture at the University of Arkansas and Rice University. Eventually he met his architectural hero, Frank Lloyd Wright, and subsequently worked at his studio during the summer of 1953.
Returning to Arkansas to teach, and where he later became Dean of the School of Architecture, Fay Jones also established an architectural practice largely based upon designs for residences, religious structures, and pavilions. Adhering to and exploring principles learned from Wright, Fay Jones produced a significant body of work.
Recognition came to Jones over the years, most notably for his Thorncrown Chapel with an American Institute of Architects National Honor Award in 1981.
The Lutz Residence set the precedence for Jones’s later work. The home delicately rises from its site, resting on a sixteen-foot square stone base and a few columns. A grand stair and stone fireplace anchor the dramatic two-story living room with a loft overlook. An entry bridge; board-and-batten wood walls; a generous, protective stepped gable roof supported by an intricate, wooden, cross-bracing truss system and a full-height glass-end wall are all harmoniously integrated. The house is in private ownership and not open to the public.
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