New Bank of Commerce Building
Later the Federal Commerce Trust Building
Later the Veterans Administration Building
200 N. Broadway
Architect: Mauran Russell & Garden
The New National Bank of Commerce Building was a 16-story tower erected under the auspices of the National Bank of Commerce, who had offices in Isaac Taylor's 1901 building at the other end of the block. The new building was concieved as an addition to the bank's existing one, though the presence of the old Post-Dispatch building between the two makes it unclear how they were connected. An unbuilt 5-story addition was also planned in conjunction with the new structure.
Architects Mauran, Russell and Garden were a prominent local firm that pealed off from Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge in 1900; driven by the design talent of John Lawrence Mauran, they designed many local buildings including downtown's massive Butler Brothers Warehouse.
The New Bank of Commerce building shows a balance between competing styles: the tripartate design, and the relatively unadorned stretch of windows and strong vertical piers, show Chicago School influence, but the heavy, two-story mansard roof with its dormer windows is pure Second Empire, as are the heavy brackets supporting the upper level wrap-around balcony. The building was faced with "Meadow Gray" Tennessee marble, quarried by the Meadow Marble Company of Meadow, TN.
Early tenants of the building included the Southern Surety Company, the St. Louis American League Baseball Company, the National Candy Company, and Wilson & Trueblood, Attorneys at Law. In 1913 - only five years after its completion - the Broadway street level was remodeled with a new entryway for the Mortgage Trust Company, who took over the first floor. The building's architects, now styled as Mauran, Russell & Crowell, designed the remodel.
In 1915, the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank occupied the structure, taking over the entire second floor, at which point the building was renamed the Federal Commerce Trust Building. The marble-clad main banking room was described as "one of the most beautiful rooms in the city". The Fed would remain for about a decade, until their new quarters were finished two blocks north. The National Bank of Commerce was still present in 1923.
The federal government purchased the building in 1936, and it became the Veterans Administration Building. After a 25 year run, the VA's regional offices left the building for the new Federal Building on Market Street in 1961, though the VA continued to run an outpatient clinic from the building's 415 Pine Street storefront through the 1960s.
The VA Building was vacated in 1970 and sold to Frates Equities, a Tulsa firm. With the land under lease to Boatmen's Bank and the Equitable Life Assurance Society, they secured a demolition permit for the building and its two neighbors in spring of 1977, with a parking lot planned for the site.
The news flagged up St. Louis's weak and understaffed preservation regulations. Local preservation groups did not get word of the demolition until it was already underway. The city's landmarks commission hastily designated the building a city landmark in March 1977 - but by that point, demolition had been proceeding for weeks, with "practically everything of value" - ornament, wrought iron balconies, copper roof trim, internal wiring - already removed. Despite a request from the city's Board of Alderman to at least temporarily halt work, Spirtas Wrecking Co. pressed onwards.
Today, 200 N. Broadway is occupied by the St. Louis Place office tower, with its massive brick corner column standing at the corner of Broadway and Pine, completed in 1983.
Photographs from elsewhere:
Early construction photo, Missouri History Museum
Roof detail, 1916, as seen from the Pierce Building, Missouri History Museum
View from Broadway, 1923, Missouri History Museum. The updated 1913 entryway is visible.
View from Olive Street, ca. 1923 (incorrectly dated 1903), Missouri History Museum. In the foreground, the old Bank of Commerce Building's foundation is visible, as it was demolished to make way for the Boatman's Bank Building, today known as the Marquette.
Tinted postcard view circa 1910.
Tinted postcard view circa 1910; the New Bank of Commerce building is at right.
Now the Veterans Administration Building, the building (green roofline trim, left of center) has changed from cream colored to a dull brown gray from sixty years of smoke and soot. Postcard image circa 1970; photograph by Art Grossman.
Image circa 1970; from This Is Our St. Louis, Harry Hagen, Knight Publishing Co., St. Louis 1970.
The end is near in this 1970s Globe-Democrat photograph. The smaller buildings immediately north of the Veterans building are the Lutheran Building and the Chamber of Commerce Building, and were torn down along with it.
The site today - a similar angle as the postcard at top.