Union Electric Power Plant

Copyright St. Louis Patina -1448

I love the details of the Union Electric power plant on the Near North Riverfront in downtown St. Louis. From what I understand, it merely generates steam to heat downtown office buildings, but the residue from its coal-firing days still clings resolutely to it exterior. And what an exterior it is; the plant was built at a time when even utility buildings required a grand, elaborately detailed decorative scheme in the Beaux-Arts style.

The building alternates tan brick for the exterior walls with stone decorative elements such as the giant Ionic pilasters on the front of the building.

Even the roof looks more fitting for an English country house than for a power plant. The round window is transformed into a cartouche with elaborate filigree.

I would love to be able to see the interior of this building; perhaps some of the ornate decoration of the exterior continues inside. Check out a bird’s eye view here. If you look closely, you can see how a rail line once passed by the front of the building, causing a small triangular setback of the front facade.

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