Hilton St. Louis Downtown at the Arch
Named after two of its bank tenants, the eight story Merchants Laclede Building was completed between 1886 and 1888 and remains one of the oldest examples of St. Louis' tall fireproof structures. Located at 4th and Olive, the Merchants Laclede was one of the first office buildings in the country to have individual fireplaces in the offices.
Originally established as the Laclede National Bank, the building was specially designed for the local banks and brokerage firms during the 1880’s when St. Louis’ economy was booming. Today, the hotel still houses the original bank vaults from the 1880's. By 1890, St. Louis’ population grew to the 5th largest in the nation, and the bank was part of the commercial epicenter.
Many St. Louis corporations have called the Merchants Laclede Building home. In the 1950’s, Fleishman-Hillard was first headquartered in Merchants Laclede. Ozark Air Lines was born in the building, and the Lewis-Rice and Lowenhaupt laws firm both had its offices in the historic landmark. In the 50s and 60s, it was also home to shoeshiner Johnny Redmond, and Tillie, who sold cigarettes in the lobby.
All these ghosts of a time long past hover around the Merchants Laclede Building, which was, and is also known for its racy stonework, particularly a large terra cotta mischievous subject matter high above Olive Street.
It is hard to believe that this building—once regarded as a pioneer building in downtown St. Louis—was sold for $250,000 in 1994, which translates into $2.50/sq ft. Once the most exciting building in St. Louis, the Merchants Laclede has come again to rise to this stature, as the Hilton St. Louis Downtown at the Arch.