Historic Highlight: The Marquette
Our Team recently listed a condo in The Marquette, located at 314 N Broadway between Olive and Locust Streets. Although it is a modern residential complex today (complete with rooftop dog park and pool), that's not how its story started.
The Marquette, perhaps better known as the Boatmen’s Bank Building, was originally developed by the Monward Realty Company as a modern office building in the heart of the financial district. Architects Eames & Young designed the new building as a 19-story, U-shaped base, with a 10-story tower on top. This was meant to emulate New York skyscrapers built during that time, like the Metropolitan Life Tower (1907-1909). The base was completed in 1913, but the tower was never added.
The architects behind this grand structure were Williams S. Eames and Thomas C. Young. Young trained as an architect at Washington University in St. Louis, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and at Heidelberg University in Germany. In 1886, he returned to St. Louis to work on a small office building, which is how he met William Eames, who was supervising the construction. Eames had studied at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts and also spent time studying in Europe. He was serving as Deputy Commissioner of Public Buildings when he met Young. The two men decided to form a partnership.
Eames & Young started with residential buildings, and then transitioned to larger structures like the Cupples Warehouse complex, Lincoln Trust Building, a series of federal prisons, and of course the Boatmen’s Bank Building. Separately, both men also served as the President of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and Young was the Mayor of Webster Groves from 1901 - 1903.
But where does the name “Boatmen’s Bank Building” come from? One of the most well-known tenants of the newly completed office building in 1915 was the Boatmen’s Bank, which had lost its original 1890 location in a devastating fire in 1914. The Bank leased the first and second floors and the building’s name changed from the Monward Realty Building to the Boatmen’s Bank Building, which was a condition of them taking the lease.
The Boatmen’s Bank remained a tenant of the building until it relocated to a new corporate headquarters in 1976. To avoid confusion, the building had to be renamed again. “The Marquette” became the new name in honor of Father Jacques Marquette, an early explorer of the Mississippi Valley.
Over the next few decades, the building’s ownership changed hands numerous times and the office occupancy rate dropped to less than 40% in the mid-1990s. In a surprising move, the City of St. Louis took ownership of the building in 1997, using revenue from parking meters, violations, and municipal garages.
In the early 2000s, the building was renovated into residential units with 81 condos and 36 rental apartments, and commercial space on the ground level.
Today, the exterior of the building remains much the same as it did when it was completed 108 years ago. Although most of the interior was extensively renovated during the residential conversion, the original 1913 elevator lobby is intact, complete with letterbox.