The Union Trust Building has reopened as a boutique hotel, Hotel St. Louis, after languishing in vacancy for at least a decade. I approve of how it turned out. There was no way to return the building to its original Adler and Sullivan design, so they returned the exterior to its renovation to its 1927 appearance.
The original design, seen above, balanced the round arches at the top of the “stem” of the building with the round windows on the second floor above street level shops. Giant “bear cats,” which I would call griffins,” likewise balanced with the matching heads above.
But the original terracotta is gone, and I think it looks great with the new terra cotta restorations as you can see below, which captures the spirit of the building’s appearance for the majority of its life.
Below, you can see what the Union Trust’s first and second floor’s looked like originally.
The new front entrance, which replaced a sad reproduction of the original Sullivanesque arched entry from 1892 is elegant and successful and sports newly cast terra cotta.
These sorts of choices have gone on for a very long; take the Mars Ludovisi; it was damaged by a millennium of neglect burial in Rome. But it was restored by the great Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini; at a certain point the renovations or restorations become historic in their own right.
The balconies off the back are tastefully done and do not detract from the original design. The mural, the date of its creation I do not, is not particularly of much importance to me.
And of course, the round windows are still extant on the alley side of the building.
Just for some perspective, look at how dense this block was in 1909; now we just have to get the Chemical Building back open; it is embarrassing that it is still vacant.
Make sure to join me tomorrow, Thursday, February 21st at 10:30 AM for my lecture on the St. Louis Place neighborhood as part of Johnny Rabbit’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” in the Lee Auditorium at the Missouri History Museum.