Union Trust Building, Reopened

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 during the renovation to its 1927 appearance.

Union Trust Company Building. 705 Olive Street. Photograph by Emil Boehl, ca. 1894. Photographs and Prints Collections. Missouri History Museum. PB 0061. NS 10363 Scan 2008, Missouri History Museum.

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 terracotta 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.

Union Trust Company Building. [Missouri Lincoln Trust Company]. 705 Olive Street. Photograph, ca. 1903. Photographs and Prints Collections. Missouri History Museum. NS 37526. Scan 2008, Missouri History Museum.

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 terracotta.

These sorts of choices have gone on for a very long; take the Mars Ludovisi; it was damaged by a millennium of neglect buried 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 know, 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.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Bob Holtzmann says:

    Back in the 80s, I worked in the architect’s office on the NW corner of the 905 Olive Building’s block, and the owner of it was in the Chemical Building. They wanted to replace the stainless steel archway on Olive, which had Art Deco charm, but was badly rusted. Unfortunately, the entrance was flanked by retail on either side, leaving a narrow corridor to the elevators. I helped shape that sad archway to please the client, given the constraints. But I am more glad the retail spaces are now gone, and a more generous lobby can now grace the Olive entrance with a much wider portal entrance. Sullivan’s entrance didn’t have the mezzanine above added by Eames and Young, but at least some dignity of the original building was restored.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      How interesting, thanks for your perspective!

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