Friday, September 12, 2008

Downtown Architecture, Part 2

Part 2 in a continuing series looking at historic architecture in downtown St. Louis.

If the devil truly is in the details where architecture is concerned, sign me up for a tour of Hell! And when it comes to details, it's hard to beat the Railway Exchange Building. This has always been one of my favorites. Maybe because I logged so many hours of my youth there as the building shares space with the former Famous-Barr (now Macy's) store which has occupied it from Day One. Not only a tag-along on shopping trips, or to see Santa at its massive annual Christmas display as a kid, I worked in this building for the second half of high school and the first half of college. Even as a teen, I marveled at its many beautiful features.

Elaborate cornices flag every entrance (and there are several) and these gorgeous busts (left) hold up either side. Nope. They don't make them this way anymore.

This 22-story building houses 1.1-million-square-feet of office and retail space. It takes up an entire city block bounded by Locust and Olive between Sixth and Seventh streets.

Depending on which source you believe, it first opened in 1913 or 14. Here's a photo circa 1915.

Being as huge at it is, it once was not only the tallest building in St. Louis (1914-1926), it was the tallest building in Missouri (1914-1921), and was for a time the largest office building in the world.

The building's ornate surface is made from nearly 183,000 white terra cotta tiles.

You like this building? It can be yours!

Just last week, Macy's announced that it was going up for sale. The store occupies just seven floors (it was 12 when I worked there.) The company says it plans to keep the store going after the sale.

After decimating its rank of executives earlier this year -- and nearly 850 jobs -- that left the mammoth structure more than half empty.

While there's no asking price, current estimates say it will sell for more than $35 million.


Anonymous said...

Wow, it really is beautiful. It kind of reminds me of the beauty of the Kansas City railway station. I missed your first post...well, I didn't really miss it, I still have it marked as unread so I can go and comment on it. Going there now :)

NV said...

V -- Glad you like it. It really is just about my favorite. Downtown has several gyms like this, but most of them aren't this ornate OR this freakin' huge!

Ann said...

GORGEOUS! I LOVE the old craftsmanship we see on old buildings, just adore it.

Anonymous said...