6 Hidden Architectural Gems in St. Louis


Photo Collage Courtesy of Jack Johnston

While some may babble on and on about the architecture of Chicago or New York, St. Louis has been keeping to itself the culturally rich stories told by our own buildings. From our beginnings as one of the first cities west of the Mississippi to our current expansion in 2019, these buildings showcase the uniqueness of what it means to be a St. Louisan. Here are six buildings to seek out to better understand the history and future of St. Louis and its inhabitants:


1) Wainwright State Office Building


As one of the first modern skyscrapers in the world, this downtown state office building is very detail-oriented with intricate designs on windows and throughout the interior. But on a grander scheme, the building itself is a testament to the strength of the city, as it almost vaults into the sky through its solid base and its angular roof.


2) Lafayette Square Houses


The streets of this National Historic District are lined with colorful Victorian mansions that are still in use today. These houses are some of the oldest in the city, and current owners have kept them up to their original splendor. Strolling through this neighborhood takes one back in time as the houses, referred to as the “painted ladies,” are built in a way that harks former American glory.


3) The Old Post Office


A beautiful example of the French Second Empire architectural style through its strong facade and rectangular dome, the Old Post Office was designed in 1872. Though it is currently used both as an event venue and for law offices, the history of the Old Post Office is entwined with the history of St. Louis and the nation, as it was the location for many famous court cases. It stands out as one of the older buildings downtown, but it testifies to some of the more nuanced history of the city.


4) Holy Corners Historic District


This little-known area is actually a large hub for religious worship. At the intersection of Kingshighway and Washington Avenue, only a few blocks from the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, this area is home to Temple Israel, St. John’s Methodist Church, Second Baptist Church and the Tuscan Temple. All of these buildings have a unique style, but all serve as witness to American religion and how it is expressed in St. Louis.


5) City Hall


In a design similar to the City Hall of Paris, this building enunciates the tumultuous history of St. Louis. Designed by George Mann, it was never fully completed, as many decorative aspects of the design are still missing today. Weathering over time and exposure to coal smoke has also turned the building to a tarnished black color. Even still, this has caused the building to be beautiful in a unique way, similar to the inner workings of the city itself.


6) One Hundred Luxury Apartments


Once completed, the One Hundred apartment building will be the most ambitiously designed projects in the city. Studio Gang, a design company making their St. Louis debut with this development, is behind the design of the tallest building in Central West End. One Hundred is a modern style of design, as it takes inspiration from nature, but it will also be one of the more environmentally-conscious and energy-friendly buildings in the city. It will open in the summer of 2020 and will start a new era of St. Louis architecture.