Architecture of St. Louis, Missouri - Landmarks and Monuments

Landmarks and Monuments

Further information: Landmarks of St. Louis, Missouri

Several examples of religious structures are extant from the pre-Civil War period, and most reflect the common residential styles of the time. Among the earliest is the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France (locally referred to as the Old Cathedral). The Basilica was built between 1831 and 1834 in the Federal style. Other religious buildings from the period include SS. Cyril and Methodius Church (1857) in the Romanesque Revival style and Christ Church Cathedral (completed in 1867, designed in 1859) in the Gothic Revival style.

Only a few civic buildings were constructed during the early 19th century. The original St. Louis courthouse was built in 1826 and featured a Federal style stone facade with a rounded portico. However, this courthouse was replaced during renovation and expansion of the building in the 1850s. The Old St. Louis County Courthouse (locally known as the Old Courthouse) was completed in 1864 and was notable for having an early cast iron dome and for being the tallest structure in Missouri until 1894. Finally, a customs house was constructed in the Greek Revival style in 1852, but was demolished and replaced in 1873 by the U.S. Customhouse and Post Office.

Because much of the city's early commercial and industrial development was centered along the riverfront, many pre-Civil War buildings were demolished during construction of the Gateway Arch. The city's remaining architectural heritage of the era includes a multi-block district of cobblestone streets and brick and cast-iron warehouses called Laclede's Landing. Now popular for its restaurants and nightclubs, the district is located north of Gateway Arch along the riverfront. Other industrial buildings from the era include some portions of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, which date to the early 1860s.

St. Louis saw a vast expansion in variety and number of religious buildings during the late 19th century and early 20th century. The largest and most ornate of these is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, designed by Thomas P. Barnett and constructed between 1907 and 1914 in the Neo-Byzantine style. The St. Louis Cathedral, as it is known, has one of the largest mosaic collections in the world. Another landmark in religious architecture of St. Louis is the St. Stanislaus Kostka, which is an example of the Polish Cathedral style. Among the other major designs of the period were St. Alphonsus Liguori (locally known as The Rock Church) (1867) in the Gothic Revival and Second Presbyterian Church of St. Louis (1900) in Richardsonian Romanesque.

Early in the 20th century (and during the years before and after the 1904 World's Fair), several churches moved to the Central West End neighborhood, near Forest Park and the fairgrounds. The neighborhood features the Holy Corners Historic District, which is a concentration of several historic religious structures, such as the First Church of Christ, Scientist (1904).

By the 1900 census, St. Louis was the fourth largest city in the country. In 1904, the city hosted a world's fair at Forest Park called the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Its architectural legacy is somewhat scattered. Among the fair-related cultural institutions in the park are the Saint Louis Art Museum designed by Cass Gilbert, part of the remaining lagoon at the foot of Art Hill, and the Flight Cage at the St. Louis Zoo. The Missouri History Museum was built afterward, with the profit from the fair. But 1904 left other assets to the city, like Theodore Link's 1894 St. Louis Union Station, and an improved Forest Park.

Louis Sullivan designed Charlotte Dickson Wainwright's tomb in the Bellefontaine side of the Bellefontaine and Calvary Cemeteries on the north side, surrounded by a collection of similar tombs for the great old St. Louis families, interesting for their late-Gilded Age artwork.

Shortly after the Civil War, St. Louis rapidly increased its school system and hospital system. One of the earliest structures and the oldest extant hospital building in St. Louis is the St. Louis Insane Asylum (now the Metropolitan St. Louis Psychiatric Center). The asylum is built of brick in the Italianate style, complete with cast iron dome and cupola reminiscent of the Old Courthouse.

As St. Louis expanded, the city hall was moved further west of downtown to its present location in 1904 (construction began in 1892). St. Louis City Hall, still in use, was designed by Harvey Ellis in the Renaissance Revival style. City Hall also is reminiscent of the famed Hôtel de Ville, Paris, France.

Other significant civic buildings from the late 19th century and early 20th century include the U.S. Customhouse and Post Office by Alfred B. Mullett (1873) and the stately St. Louis Public Library by Cass Gilbert (1912). While the Old Post Office has been renovated, the St. Louis Public Library is slated for renovation as of 2010. In 1923 the city passed a $87 million bond issue for re-development of the Civic Plaza along the lines of the City Beautiful movement. This development resulted in some of St. Louis's major civic architecture: the Soldiers' Memorial, the Civil Courts Building, and Kiel Auditorium.

Then into the 1940s and 1950s a certain sub-genre of St. Louis modernism emerged, with the locally important Harris Armstrong, and a series of daring modern civic landmarks like Gyo Obata's Planetarium, the geodesic-dome Climatron, and the main terminal building at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. The Poplar Street Bridge, a 647-foot (197 m) long (197m) deck girder bridge, was built in 1967 and continues to carry three Interstates and one U.S. route. St. Louis also was the headquarters for postwar modernist bank designer Wenceslaus Sarmiento, whose major work in St. Louis is the Chancery Building (1965) on the grounds of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. The culmination of St. Louis modern architecture is Eero Saarinen's magnificent stainless-steel gesture, the Gateway Arch, centerpiece of the 91-acre (370,000 m2) riverside Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

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