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Taylor, Jacob N; Crooks, M. O. Sketch Book of St. Louis: Containing a Series of Sketches of the Early Settlement, Public Buildings, Hotels, Railroads, Steamboats, Foundry and Machine Shops, Mercantile Houses, Grocers, Manufacturing Houses, Etc . St. Louis: George Knapp and Co, 1858. [format: book], [genre: guidebook; narrative]. Permission: Tulane University
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Chapter XVII. Barnum's Hotel.

BARNUM & FOGG,Proprietors.

This hotel, unsurpassed by any in the West, and its internal arrangements, perhaps, having no equal in the Union, was built for and under the personal supervision of THERON BARNUM, Esq., a gentleman who, for nearly twenty years, has occupied an enviable position as a hotel keeper of our city — his name and the excellence of his house being co-extensive with our entire country, both east and west.

Mr. Barnum became the proprietor of the City Hotel, corner of Third and Vine streets, in the spring of 1848, which house he occupied until the fall of 1852, when, having accumulated a sufficiency of this world's goods, he retired from business altogether. It is needless to say that this retirement was much regretted by the community in which he lived, (as well as by the travelling public,) feeling as they did that he was one of those who reflected credit upon our city by the manner in which he had conducted his house, making it emphatically a home for the traveller and a spot where the weary were at rest.

It is not a matter of surprise then that he should be called forth from that retirement which he so eagerly sought. The rapid growth of our city called most loudly for an increase of our hotel accommodation, and it was determined to erect a hotel commensurate to the demand. The corner of Second and Walnut streets was selected as the most eligible site, being near to the centre of business and the principal railroad depots and

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steamboat landings, yet sufficiently retired to ensure quiet and comfort to the guests; Mr. Barnum was solicited to take charge of the new edifice as soon as completed, and he, after much solicitation, consented.

On the 28th of September, 1854, Mr. Barnum, in conjunction with Mr. Fogg, opened the above named House. Since its opening it has enjoyed a most complete success, both in the number of its patrons and the satisfaction which it has rendered them. The number of arrivals at this house, as shown by the published hotel arrivals, is much greater than at any other, while in point of excellence of table, comfort of apartments, the attention shown guests by every one connected with the establishment, from "mine hosts" down to the lowest menial, we can safely say is unequalled either at home or abroad.

It is an honor and a just subject of pride to our city. Here the stranger can look for that kind welcome and gentlemanly treatment which render absence from home less irksome and dreary, feeling that everything reasonable is done to render his stay at once comfortable and pleasant. May the shadow of its proprietors never grow less, and may their success in life be equaled by their exertions to deserve it, is the ardent wish of all who have enjoyed the excellent brands, many comforts and benign smiles of the proprietors of Barnum's Hotel.

Under the guidance of Mr. Fogg, we, a short time since, took a survey of the working portion of this house. We went without previous appointment, with the intention of taking them by surprise. We found Mr. Fogg in the office, and communicated our desire to him. He immediately conducted us through the gentlemen's ordinary, which is of ample dimensions, and capable of seating four hundred guests. The ladies' ordinary is not so large, but can seat about two hundred and fifty persons.

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Attached to the meat stand in the dining room is one of the neatest contrivances for keeping the meats warm we have ever observed. It consists of a couple of hollow, cast iron plates, with indentures sufficiently large to receive the bottom of the dish; the meats are then dished up and placed upon this stand, and the steam, which is generated by a boiler in the cellar, turned on; it immediately fills the vacuum, traverses the range, and is conducted off by a pipe upon the opposite end. After satisfying ourselves of the great utility of this contrivance, and having investigated the workings of the dumb waiter, which leads to the pastry room below, we passed into the cook house. We were not a little astonished at the extent and neatness of this apartment. We observed many things here which are to be found nowhere else, as they were designed by Mr. Fogg, and erected by his positive orders, and upon his own responsibility, as the mechanics refused to construct them until he had declared himself determined to have them at all events. From here, we passed into the engine room, where we found a huge boiler generating steam, and a neat, compact steam engine at work supplying power for various uses. These works were also erected upon the responsibility of Mr. Fogg, who spent many hours of hard study in arranging them to suit his ideas of what was required. On leaving this apartment, we visited the wash room, and found it the most complete and best arranged of all the many we have inspected in the United States. The dirty clothes are received at one end of the room and are immediately handed to the washer; from her hands they are passed into the rinser, and from thence into a machine designed for wringing. They are removed from this machine into a drying rack, and shoved into a room filled with hot air, from whence they are withdrawn and passed to the ironer; after they have

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been ironed they are placed in the airing room and from thence handed to the laundress, who takes charge of them, and places them in her receiving room until they are called for by the messenger boy. The water is heated by steam, the clothes boiled by steam and the drying room heated by steam.

On entering into the pastry room, we observed the same scrupulous regard to cleanliness and order which is everywhere displayed. On ascending from the pastry room, we were conducted into the store room; here we observed a greater variety and a larger quantity of groceries than are usually found in retail grocery stores.

After visiting the servants' pleasure room, which ia a room of 50 by 26 feet, and where they congregate after their work i s finished and engage in dancing and love making until ten o'clock, we passed into the upper portion of the house.

We found the sleeping apartments furnished with the utmost care and kept with scrupulous cleanliness. Here one can obtain a good night's rest without being tortured by those pests which are to be found in so many hotels in this country; upon these vermin the housekeeper has waged a successful war of extermination. Each room is furnished with everything necessary for the making of the toilet.

In conclusion we must be permitted to say a few words in regard to the bathrooms. These rooms are fitted up in elegant style, with all the modern improvements for furnishing hot, cold or tepid baths. Attached to the bath room is the room for blacking boots. While a gentleman is enjoying the luxury of a good bath, a boy is cleaning his boots. This apartment was also arranged and designed by Mr. Fogg, who has proved an invaluable associate in the management of Barnum's Hotel.

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Corner of Second and Olive streets.

It is a pleasure as well as a duty to point out to both our citizens and to strangers such Hotels in our midst as are most Worthy the confidence and patronage of the public. Such a house is eminently the Monroe. For years known as the Glasgow House, and situated in the immediate centre of business, and has ever enjoyed a most liberal share of patronage.

In the year 1846 the house passed into the charge of Mr. Wm. Monroe, formerly of the Quincy House, where he had established for himself a most enviable reputation as a host and a gentleman. Since then it has been under his entire control, and has assumed a first position in the rank of hotels in our city. So rapidly did the business of the house increase under the excellent management of its present proprietor, that large additions became necessary, and were therefore made — the building now occupying one-fourth of the entire square upon which it is situated. This enlargement worked a complete change in the original plan of the house; the rooms being enlarged, the parlors and sitting rooms made more spacious, and the dining room made the most extensive of any in our city — while its arrangements in the manner of seating boarders is perhaps the most superior of any in our city. While all this was done, the charges were as reasonable as those of any hotel in the Country, and the fare excelled by none.

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Here the epicure can find every thing to suit the most fastidious and delicate palate, served up in a style worthy of the highest art of Parisian cookery, and by servants who seem intuitively to know your wants, and knowing them, most glad to cater thereto. This is no idle panegyric, meant only for the public gaze, but an honest sober truth, which any one may demonstrate by paying the house a visit.

Hotel keeping, in a proper sense, is a science. It requires a knowledge of human nature, and a disposition to bear patiently with the foibles of all with whom the hotel keeper may come in contact. "The proud man's contumely," the insolence of the rich, the overweening vanity of the coxcomb and new-fledged aristocrat, the peevishness of the invalid, the childishness of the old, tne boorish manners of the "border ruffian," and many other evils "too numerous to mention," are trials to which "mine host" is daily doomed to bear, and which require a most liberal amount of moral courage to endure. If not met in the proper manner and with that becoming suavity which betoken the perfect gentleman, he is gazetted from one end of the country to the other as unfit for the avocation of a public caterer, and his house avoided by those who have one or another of the faults above mentioned.

But Mr. Monroe is a perfect gentleman, and meets with most gracious courtesy and forbearance those inconveniences which the keeping of a public house ever brings to its keeper. With him the keeping of a hotel is not a mere affair of dollars and cents, but a position in which he seeks to dispense a "quid pro quo" for the amount received from his guests. He does not feel satisfied with merely giving his patrons a place whereon they may sleep, and a seat at the table where they may gorge themselves to their heart's desire, but believes that there is something beyond all this — a looking after the comfort and enjoyment of those by whom he is surrounded, rendering them all

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those little attentions which go so far in making up the sum total of life's happiness — the comfort of his guests being his first thought, the accumulation of money merely a secondary consideration.

In all his efforts he is most ably seconded by Mr. Andrews, clerk; Mr. Johnson, assistant do.; and Mr. Allen, steward; while the ladies always find an attentive friend in Miss Manney, general housekeeper.

All the accommodations and conveniences to be found at any house can be found here, and to the public we commend, with most sincere wishes for its success, the Monroe House.

Ere we conclude our notice of this elegant Hotel, we must be allowed to visit the sleeping apartments, a portion of all hotels thai demands and receives from the wayfarer a greater amount of criticism than any other. In the Monroe House we do not find the rooms crowded with beds, in order that a great number may be furnished with a place to sleep, and the purse of the landlord benefitted for the time being; but on the contrary, we find the rooms large, airy, and neatly arranged. The bed clothes are of snowy whiteness, and with the splendid spring mattresses, combine to render the appearance inviting; here one can sink to rest amid dreams of home, the halcyon days of boyhood, the loved wife and little ones, and in the morning awake refreshed and ready to go forth to meet the cares of Another day with renewed energy, and an enlarged opinion of humanity.

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Virgnia Hotel. John H. Sparr, Proprietor

A good hotel — one which combines all the luxuries and conveniences of a home — is a thing most ardently desired by all who labor under the necessity of travelling, or who, like the writer, is unable to enjoy the comforts of a home, because of the want of the first indispensable article — a wife — and is consequently compelled to seek inside the hospitable doors of a hotel that ease and comfort he can only dream of elsewhere. The reader will find all these requirements in the Virginia Hotel of St. Louis, which is situated on the corner of Green, Main and Second streets.

The site at present occupied by the buildings known as the Virginia Hotel, was first improved by Messrs. Scott & Rule,

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well known merchants of this city, in the year 1830, and was used as the Union Hotel by Mr. Farish until his decease, and then by his widow until 1843, when its present owner, Capt. James Wood, became the proprietor, and made numerous additions and improvements to the buildings; and on the first of January, 1844, Mr. John H. Sparr, the present worthy host, became the lessee and entered upon its duties as manager.

Mr. Sparr came to St. Louis when quite a boy in 1823, and after a variety of changes in vocations, in which he was more or less successful, he, on the first of April, 1840, entered upon the life of a hotel keeper. The scene of his first operations was a small house on the corner of Washington avenue and Commercial street. In October of that year he became lessee of what was at that time called the Virginia Hotel, but is now known to the travelling community as "Kings Hotel," and which is situated on the corner of Vine and Second streets. In 1844, as we have before stated, he became the lessee of the hotel owned by Capt. Wood, and in moving into it he carried with him the name of "Virginia Hotel," it being one he had seen grow into public favor under his fostering care.

The Virginia Hotel, when Mr. Sparr took possession of it in 1844, was capable of rendering accommodations to about one hundred and seventy-five guests, and was as large as any house in the Mound City. It answered the purpose for but a short time; the immense reputation achieved by this house had gone abroad, and many who visited St. Louis could not be accommodated. In order to meet the increasing wants of the public in a proper spirit, Mr. Isaac Walker, in 1846, succeeded in obtaining a lease on an adjoining lot, and built a four story addition, which when completed he leased to Mr. Sparr, and which added much to the facilities of the Virginia Hotel in rendering their guests comfortable.

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In 1851 Capt. Wood built the western wing, having first made a contract with Mr. Sparr, whereby the latter was to yield his lease on the main hotel, with a view of pulling it down and rebuilding in a more spacious and elegant style. The result of the negotiation was the removal of Mr. Sparr, the demolition of the old house, and the erection of the present magnificent and spacious building, which was completed early in the spring of 1853, and was, opened to the public on the first day of April, 1853, just thirteen years from the day which first saw Mr. Sparr at the head of a hotel, but with far different prospects; the first was an experiment, where he was to strive to win a name and honored reputation; the second, after both had been achieved, and after the fame of the Virginia Hotel had become a household word from the coast of Maine to the shores of California.

Mr. Sparr has now ample accommodations in his spacious hotel for three hundred and fifty guests, and he has upon extraordinary occasions found room for four hundred.

The immense amount it costs to conduct it in a proper style would startle those unacquainted with what is required in our first class houses. There are no less than one hundred and twenty-five servants, of both sexes, employed, and the other departments are upon an equal scale of grandeur.

The location being on Main street, near the centre of the wholesale trade, special attention has been paid to the arrangements and style of keeping, in order to make the house a comfortable house to business men who visit the city a number of times each year, and all will concede the fact that the table of the Virginia Hotel is always provided with the best the market affords.

One thing in particular we desire to mention here, and that is, the neatness and cleanliness which is observed in all the

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sleeping apartments. This attention upon the part of Mr. Sparr has had much to do in placing his house in the position it now holds in the estimation of the public, and when contrasted with the way in which hotels are generally kept, reflects much honor upon that gentleman.

The building fronts on Main street one hundred feet, and is six stories high, and extends back to the alley. The front on Green street is three hundred and twenty feet, while on Second street, upon which it also fronts, it is eighty feet. This building, or perhaps we had better say these buildings, are owned by Mr. Isaac Walker, Capt. James Wood, and Messrs. J. & W. Finney, and is held under a lease from these gentlemen by Mr. Sparr.

Mr. Sparr has spent over fifteen thousand dollars in improving the adjoining buildings, in order that he would be better able to render his guests perfectly comfortable, and furnish them with suitable accommodations. But he has the proud consciousness of knowing that he established a world-wide reputation for his house and insured a full return.

There is no hotel in our city more popular with the traveller than the Virginia, and if we take the published list of daily arrivals as a criterion, we can safely say not one is better patronised.

The kind and obliging disposition of Mr. Sparr and his accomplished assistants in his office, render them especial favorites with all who have ever stopped at this house.

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Corner of Second and Vine Streets,
George I. King, Proprietor.

This favorite hotel is situated on the north-east corner of Vine and Second streets, having a front on Vine street of one hundred and fifty feet, with a depth of one hundred and forty feet on Second street. The buildings are of brick, five stories high, and admirably arranged for the purposes for which it was erected. The dining rooms having a capacity for seating in comfortable style about three hundred guests. The parlors are large and furnished in superior style with every appliance that can in any way conduce to the comfort of the guests.

This house has been used as a hotel for several years, and has always maintained an excellent reputation for excellence. A few years ago, when it was called the Virginia, it was known

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all over the West as a first-class hotel, and, although the name has been altered, the admirable management of Mr. King has rather added to than detracted from the reputation it then sustained. The location is one of the most favorable that could be found; contiguous to the wholesale jobbing houses, it offers rare advantages to the country merchant who visits the city for the purpose of replenishing his stock.

The sleeping apartments of King's Hotel are large, airy, and kept with scrupulous cleanliness; furnished with gas and all the modern improvements. It is really a god-send for the wearied traveller to rest his wearied limbs upon these luxurious beds.

The table is under the charge of Mr. Frank W. Denman, the accomplished Steward, and if the market contains any thing rare, excellent, or good, he is determined to have it for his guests. With his larder well stocked, and the services of several superior cooks, no one can furnish a more delightful meal than Mr. D.

As the name of the house would lead one to suppose, King's Hotel is presided over, and its destinies ruled, by Geo. I. King, who is a favorite with those who have partaken of his hospitality. Mr. King has long been a resident of the West, having for a number of years been connected with the steamboating interests, and while thus engaged he wove those bonds of friendship with the river men which now makes his house such a favorite resort with all steamboat men who frequent St. Louis.

Mr. George I. King first introduced himself to the St. Louis public as a host in 1851, at which time we find him at the head of the Missouri Hotel; here he won golden opinions from all sorts of people, by the manner in which he catered for the public. He nourished in the Missouri till 1854, when the American House was for lease; he immediately obtained a lease upon that establishment, and had it refitted and thoroughly cleaned,

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and christened "King's Hotel." He opened to the public with a thorough knowledge of what was required to secure an equal share of public patronage, and a firm determination to let no obstacles stand between him and the consummation of his wishes. The result has fully equalled his expectations, and he has a full house of contented and pleased guests at all times.

In all his endeavors to please the public, Mr. King is ably assisted by his Lieutenant in the office, Mr. Charles King, who is a favorite with all who tarry at King's. The larder, as we have already stated, is under the entire control of Frank Denman, who has an enviable reputation as a caterer, and who is always "bobbing around" in search of viands rare and luscious with which to grace his table and satiate the cravings of his guests. He is a trump, and has added no little towards giving a wide reputation to this hotel. The charges at this house have always been moderate, and the accommodations such that no one ever thinks he has not received full value. We look upon King's as an "institution" which deserves to flourish, and which will, so long as courteous and gentlemanly treatment, good living, excellent accommodations, and liberal charges, have any influence.

The utmost regard is paid to keeping every thing in order; no boisterous noises arouse the slumberer, or disturb the stillness of the house; every thing seems as quiet and orderly as a church. Meals can be procured at all hours, and the servants take pride in attending to the wants of all guests. A cup of good hot coffee is ever ready for the traveller, which can be had at a moment's notice. This, to railroad passengers, is no small consideration.

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77 Dock Street, Philadelphia, Penn.

This house has for a long series of years enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best hotels in the city of Philadelphia, and while under the management of Col. R. B. Jones won the confidence of the travelling public. In all his endeavors to render his house a favorite resort, Col. Jones was ably assisted by Larry Thompson, who, after the Col's, death, assumed the entire control of affairs.

This house is conducted upon the European plan, a system that has grown into extensive favor where it has been tested. Here the traveller can procure rooms by the week or single night, with or without board, which, it will be perceived, possesses peculiar charms to those who visit Philadelphia upon business. These rooms are neatly furnished, and kept with a scrupulous regard for cleanliness; they are fitted with all the modern appurtenances which tend to promote the comfort of the guests.

The eating arrangements of this house can not be excelled any place. The larder is stocked with every delicacy the market affords, and is served up by cooks that are of acknowledged elegance. The waiters are attentive and evince a desire to please. The brands of wine embrace every thing that is of note, and is dispensed with a liberal hand. A meal can be procured at almost any hour; breakfast, from six o'clock till eleven; dinner, from twelve till four; supper, from five till eleven. Particular attention is given to getting up the dinner,

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every thing that nature produces, or art suggests, is embraced in the bill of fare. Among other delicacies to be found, we will mention the Chinqueroarasques Oysters, a brand that has for years maintained the position of first favorite with the public.

Another feature of this excellent hotel, is the supply of excellent cigars which are kept for the accommodation of its patrons; these cigars are imported direct from Havana by Mr. Thompson, and are luscious beyond comparison.

To those of our readers who are intending to visit the Quaker City, we say — Stop at Jones' Exchange Hotel, 77 Dock street, immediately opposite the Exchange, and next door to the Post Office. You will find Col. Thompson a gentleman of enlarged hospitality, and one you can not help liking; he will spare no pains to make your stay as comfortable and agreeable as possible, and will be so moderate in his charges as to cause you to wonder how he can afford to conduct his house in the style he does.

Indeed, we do not believe the Colonel has his superior in the City of Brotherly Love. In all his endeavors to place Jones' Exchange Hotel in favor with the travelling community, he has been ably assisted by the efforts of his good-looking clerks. We speak knowingly of this hotel, for we have more than once partaken of its hospitality, and speak thus in its praise because we desire to "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's." In the broadest and fullest extent of the word, is Jones' Exchange Hotel a home for all; a place of refuge from the toils and cares of life, where you can find those comforts that only exist in such hotels as Jones', Barnum's, Monroe's, Sparr's, and King's.

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Taylor, Jacob N; Crooks, M. O. Sketch Book of St. Louis: Containing a Series of Sketches of the Early Settlement, Public Buildings, Hotels, Railroads, Steamboats, Foundry and Machine Shops, Mercantile Houses, Grocers, Manufacturing Houses, Etc . St. Louis: George Knapp and Co, 1858. [format: book], [genre: guidebook; narrative]. Permission: Tulane University
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