City Club of St. Louis
Later the Hotel DeSoto
Later the Hotel Alverne
1014-1024 Locust Street
Architect: Tom P. Barnett
Renovated: 1957; architect Bernard McMahon
The City Club Building was originally home to a progressive, municipal-minded social club, which moved into its new quarters in 1924 to great pomp.
Financial strain, however, soon prompted the club to rent out eight floors of the building as hotel space. The Missouri Hotel opened in 1926. Declining club membership over the three years continued to plague the club's finances, and in 1929 the City Club greatly reduces the scope of its operations, consolidating on the top two floors. The Great Depression dealt a further blow; in the face of dwindling membership, the City Club closed for good in 1933.
The Missouri Hotel moved out at the same time, and the Desoto Hotel opened in its place. The Desoto operated into the 1950s.
In 1956 the Archdiocese of St. Louis purchased the building, and converted it into a seniors home, operated by the Franciscan Sisters and known as the Alverne Hotel. Clayton architect Bernard McMahon was brought in to design the renovation. This renovation is likely (though not confirmed) when the building lost its original ornament - the entire cornice was removed, along with the building's corner quoins and all window ornament. The upper level balconies were stripped to their concrete core. A Modernist street facade was installed, including a tile mosaic by the Ravenna Mosaic Company above the entry. A ground floor chapel, open to the public, was dedicated in 1958, featuring stained glass from the Emil Frei company (at least some of which still survives.) The Eucharistic Shrine of Our Lady of the Angels , operated by the Capuchin Franciscan friars, was constantly busy in its early years, with up to five Masses held daily for downtown workers and residents alike. The Alverne Hotel chapel remained open until 1991. The senior residence closed in 1987.
With the upper floors vacant, the rechristened Alverne Building housed a series of nightclubs in its ground floor - including Hyperspace (1995-1996), Flavour (opened in 1996; closed in 1997), and most recently Ten14, which opened around 2004 and lasted about six years. The building was reported as entirely vacant in May 2010 when a small fire damaged former nightclub space. In 2013, the Alverne Building was sold to developer Brian Hayden, with intentions of renovating it as apartments; building permits were issued in 2014.
National Register nomination form for the City Club - source of most of the info on this page.
City Club (Later Hotel Alverne) - a Flickr photoset by Michael Allen, including vintage photos of the building's spectacular lost ornament.
A colorized postcard view of the Hotel DeSoto, circa 1940.
Photograph of the building from the 1940s, from a publication by contractor H.B. Deal who erected the building.
The building as it has stood post-1956 - stripped of ornament. The City Club's original design contrasted a field of tightly spaced small window openings with the lavish ornament and expansive openings at the building's upper and lower extremities - the windows became visual columns or piers supporting the heavy cornice. The renovation destroyed that relationship - leaving a malproportioned and uninviting hulk of a building in its wake, whose small windows simply look stingy.
The 1950s remodeling desecrated the building's upper reaches. Window openings were crudely bricked in with badly matched brick, incongruous 1940s style steel frame windows were patched in their place, and the upper floor balconies were stripped down to their concrete frames.
The concrete balcony structure shows significant water damage. Above, surviving fleur de lis emblems hint at the building's lost ornament.
The building's back facing sides, viewed from the nearby Syndicate Trust Building, 2010.