Former Stouffer’s Riverfront Inn

Pet Milk Building, Stouffer’s Riverfront Inn, 1 Memorial Drive, Aerial View from East, Photograph by Ralph D’Oench, January 1969, Missouri History Museum, N34412

They sure had all sorts of great ideas in the 1960s about how they were going to revitalize downtown, and pretty much none of them worked. They’re either demolished, abandoned, bought out in corporate mergers or forgotten. Just look at all the vacant land in the heart of a major metropolis.

The Stouffer’s Riverfront Inn was quite the exciting place when it first opened, I’m told. It’s built on the site of George Schneider’s Washington Brewery, and it created one of the two super blocks that wall off the river from the rest of downtown.

Construction of Stouffer’s Riverfront Inn, 200 South Fourth, Photograph by Dorrill Photocolor, May 1, 1968, Missouri History Museum, P0243-12491-01-4a

It was part of a chain operated by a division of Litton Industries, and was the largest of nine in the Stouffer Chain when it opened in 1969.

I hate round hotels, and round skyscrapers in general. They create weird shaped rooms that are awkward and ultimately have less space than rectangular rooms. I remember when my friends and I went to a mutual friend’s wedding in Seattle and one couple stayed in a round hotel downtown. I remember thinking their room was terribly laid out and strange. The cosmetic renovations can’t hide bad design. Plus, these round hotels were built in the 1960s, and they’re now officially old and worn out. Illinois’s medium-sized cities seem to all be scarred with a squat ugly round building from the 1970s.

Just read the on-line reviews for the Millennium Hotel (its last name) in the final years of its operation–its proximity to Busch Stadium was not enough to keep it in business. People like good deals, but not with that much black mold. The last I checked somebody in Hong Kong owned the complex. They probably have never even been to St. Louis, and that is why they bought it. I thought someone said it was slated for demolition. Fine with me.

In what is a rarity in St. Louis, the air rights were sold over the north wing of the hotel, and the office building that houses Deloitte. was built over the top.

The hotel rooms were even kept in operation underneath the new building.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Adele H says:

    Though not a huge fan of 1960s architecture, I have fond memories of this place. The views from the (ever-so-slowly rotating) Top of the Riverfront rooftop restaurant at night were lovely.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      I do wish I could have fit one meal in at the rotating restaurant before it closed! Now that chance seems to have slipped away for at least a long time.

  2. The negative effects of much of modernist design was beginning to take hold in the 1960’s. The new condo towers downtown are examples of how modernism has pretty much reached a dead end as they look like they belong in anywhere USA. Although opinion may be divided, I think the condo tower on Kingshighway overlooking the park is quite a striking and original design by the architectural firm known as the Studio Gang. The 60’s also brought the parking garage craze into vogue which continues unabated as the city desperately tries to suburbanize downtown and turn it into a sporadically populated sporting destination.

    1. Clifford Kurrus says:

      Dear Mr. Naffzigger, today. I have had recurring waking dreams of circular building structures including what my intuition told me seemed like a parking garage. Of course I was concerned; I checked out the former Stouffer’s Building just because I knew it was downtown St. Louis. I don’t drink milk… I do not know… I live in Jefferson County, and if you would like to contact me , my telephone number is (207) 208-7752, and text me if you please. My Name is Clifford Kurrus…

  3. Pamela Hartsfield says:

    My 1st marriage we had a lovely dinner at the rotating top in 1986, our honeymoon. Beautiful view, great food! So sad to see it went down hill. 🙁

    1. cnaffziger says:

      Yes, it’s sad that there seems to be no plans at all to redevelopment the property. It never comes up in any discussions of revitalizing downtown.

  4. Morris I Kelsey, Ph.D says:

    Thank you for sharing the history of the Stauffer’s restaurant in downtown St.
    Louis, Mo.

    On my last evening in St. Louis in 1973, I played my last gig (played piano) on the roof before driving east with my family. My day gig at the mental hospital (lab scientist) was abolished by the State of MO.

    We recently traveled back to St Louis , and I was so disappointed that the building was closed! My sons who were born in St. Louis enjoyed the visit, and I am sorry that we left the area for a job in MD.

  5. Eric Kibler says:

    In the early ‘70s, I was there for a Cardinals game over the 4th of July weekend. The evening of the 4th, we ate dinner in that spinning restaurant. At dusk we spun around to where the arch was coming into view. To our surprise, the fireworks started at it’s base and we were treated to the best view of fireworks I’ve ever seen.

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