|St. Louis Lofts - Downtown Apartments|
Use the slider above to view this street scene in 1905 and 2014. Buildings that still exist include the Jefferson Hotel (far left), the Bogen Lofts (left of center), and the Meridian Lofts (white building in the middle on the right).
Introducing part one of our new "Then & Now" series, featuring historic photos and drawings with their modern counterparts.
This edition shows an everyday street scene on Tucker Boulevard (then known as Twelfth Street) looking north from Olive Street. Horse drawn carriages, dapper pedestrians and stately architectural marvels in 1905 are replaced by traffic lights, high speed traffic, and newer construction in 2014 with a smattering of lingering historic landmarks. This major street through the heart of city served as an official dividing line for the business district up until around 1900, with very few buildings residing west of this intersection. As businesses expanded and needed more real estate, large buildings sprung up west of Twelfth Street, manufacturing and selling garments, hats, and numerous other dry goods. Those buildings still standing today include the Jefferson Hotel (built in 1904), the Bogen Lofts building (1902) and the Meridian Lofts Building (1898). All three are on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Hotel Jefferson (also known then as the Jefferson Hotel, and later as the Sheraton-Jefferson and the Jefferson Arms) opened just before the World's Fair, and played host to many upscale events and notable guests. A large addition (not pictured here) was completed in 1928. Today, the building is vacant. This dilapidated building poses an overwhelming challenge to whichever developer chooses to tackle it in the future. The grand halls and ballrooms of the past maintain many of their sophisticated elements, quality of workmanship, and architectural integrity, but those features are compounded by peeling paint, crumbling walls, and warped floor boards. The hotel rooms themselves, later transformed into small apartments in the 1970s, are mostly small in size with questionable decor like bright orange shag carpet, but have amazing views of the surrounding city. Read more about the history of this impressive building here.
The Bogen Lofts building was originally known as the Lesser-Goldman building, and then as the Ferguson McKinney building. This brick and terra cotta building was constructed in 1902 and was home to a large dry goods company that went through several name changes from the Ferguson McKinney Dry Goods Company to the Carleton Dry Goods Company. The building was renovated into lofts in 2005 and some architectural alterations have been made, primarily to the first floor, but the rest of the building maintains its original elements and charm. Learn more about the history of this building here.
The Meridian Lofts building at 1136 Washington Avenue was built in 1898. This striking building stands out from its neighbors with its stark white color. The use of soot-resistant and lustrous enameled bricks have ensured that this building exists in largely the same form as it did over 100 years ago. The building was home to the Hamilton Brown Shoe Company and was called the A. D. Brown building (named for Alanson D. Brown of the Hamilton Brown Shoe Company). It is unique in that while the building corners on Washington Avenue, it fronts on Twelfth Street, as an indication from the architect that westward expansion past Twelfth Street was inevitable and forthcoming. Today, the building is home to exquisite individually owned lofts.
Vanished landmarks in this shot include the Silk Exchange Building (between the Jefferson Hotel and Bogen Lofts on Tucker) which was added to that National Register of Historic Places in 1982 but had to be demolished after a catastrophic building fire in 1995. The site has now been paved over and is a parking lot for tenants of neighboring buildings.
Getting the "Now" picture for this "Then & Now" series was more difficult than anticipated. Honking automobiles and impatient foot traffic made this a challenge, and I can only imagine how different this scene would have felt in 1905.