The Valley Park Elevator

The world is becoming more commercialized and fast-paced by the day, and local landmarks and businesses are more important than ever. The Valley Park Elevator has it all. It's a hardware store meets garden store with eclectic lawn art. It's also a bait shop and pseodo-food market selling fresh produce and local goods. To top it all off, it's also in a historic grain elevator. 

It was the largest grain elevator in St. Louis and is one of the last 2 standing out of 4 in St. Louis County. It began as The Valley Park Milling Company in 1874, it was the center of town. The mill produced Meramec Flour and Red Rose Flour. After a fire in 1887, the grain elevator was built. The surrounding town was growing fast with more industry moving in such as a lumber yard, stove company, plate glass company, a distillery, bottle works, and a sand and gravel company.

The Missouri Pacific and San Francisco Railroads came through at the Meramec Station, at one point 88 trains per day. The Frisco Hotel was built. Alas, there was record rainfall 1915 that affected all St. Louis and destroyed this progress. A flood so great newspapers told of people being rescued from second floor windows and rooftops. That record of rainfall was not broken until 2022. The city of Valley Park continued on as a small town and was named after the milling company when it was incorporated in 1917. During the 1920s, the grain elevator was a powerful workhorse connecting farm and town, processing over 500,000 bushels of grain a year.

  

The surrounding farmland has been slowly eaten away by modern development. The area is now full of homeowners and businesses that need other kinds of goods. Luckily for those folks in 1977, Richard Grellner bought the elevator. He and his sons Jeff and Steve still sold some grains at that time, more as a convenience to the local farmers that were left. They enjoyed “messing around with those grains”. However, in 1986 the expansion of Highway 141 meant that the front part of the building and land would have to be removed to make way and that was the end of grain business. The “work house” attached to the elevator transitioned fully into a hardware store. For three generations the business has been run by the Grellner Family and has evolved into selling all the fun and useful things they can fit in there. The interior of the elevator stands empty containg eight grain bins that are over 90 feet tall, and the Grellners say it’s still operational. 

The Valley Park Elevator has loyal customers, some of whom have been going there for decades. Customers enjoy the helpful, friendly and personalized attention they get from the staff. Special items for sale include delicious homegrown tomatoes and other local goodies like salsas, jams, honey, jerky and eggs. At certain times of the year they have baby chicks and fancy goldfish available. It’s a great pit stop for a day out fishing, with minnows, worms and crickets. You can also find native species of plants in the garden department. 

People really like the usefulness of this neighborhood store. And they do offer some great services, like blade sharpening, screen repair, key cutting, propane refill, window repair, glass cutting, and firewood delivery. If you're a DIY-er, they offer soil testing, guidance and machinery rental for lawn care so that you can actually fix your turf yourself.

The Elevator could also be considered a bit of a roadside attraction. Anyone who has ever driven down Hwy 141 has for certain noticed the dazzling assortment of bright and shiny lawn art. Not everyone might think they need a piece of lawn art but if there is a piece in this world that will speak to you, it will be here. The collection includes pieces that are nostalgic, comical, decorative, traditional, and even intergalactical.

Historic Photos courtesy of St. Louis County and The Valley Park Elevator

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