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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html


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Public Buildings.

[We are indebted to Mr. John E. Yore for the following history of the Merchants' Exchange building:]

MERCHANTS EXCHANGE.

The preliminary steps to form a company to build the Exchange building were taken in the early part of the winter of 1855-6. Several gentlemen, among whom may be mentioned the names of James H. Lucas, George R. Taylor, Edward J. Gay, George Knapp, Louis C. Garnier, Fils & Cort?, John G. Priest, L. A. Benois, L. Riggs, A. Mier, L. V. Bogy, and others, took a very active part in procuring the stock subscriptions and organizing the company. After the sum of seventy-five per cent. of the capital stock had been subscribed, a meeting of the stockholders was convened, at the Merchants' Exchange (at that time on the south-west corner of Olive and Main streets), on the 5th of January, 1856. At this meeting the sum or amount of $57,000 in subscriptions was represented and present. The object of this meeting was to elect by ballot, according to the articles of association, seven trustees to serve for one year as the first board of trustees of the St. Louis Merchants' Exchange Company. The result of this election was the choice of the following-named gentlemen: —

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George R. Taylor, Edward J. Gay, James H. Lucas, Lamason Riggs, Felix Cort?, Louis C. Garnier, and Neree Valle. At a subsequent meeting of the board, George R. Taylor was chosen president, J. H. Lucas treasurer, and John E. Yore secretary. The company was then duly organized, and proceeded at once to the purchase of the ground and the erection of the Exchange building.

The ground was purchased of the city of St. Louis, consisting of one hundred and twenty-five feet in block No. 7, fronting on Main and Commercial streets, and between Market and Walnut streets. Messrs. George R. Taylor, Lucas C. Gamier, and Felix Cort?, were appointed the building committee. A premium of $250 was offered for the best plan and $50 for the second best plan for an exchange building. Twelve different plans were received by the company. The plans offered by Messrs. Barnett & Weler were adopted by the board, and also by the stockholders, at a subsequent meeting held for that purpose. Mr. Oliver A. Hart was appointed superintendent, and Messrs. Barnett & Weler were awarded the contract for the building of the Exchange. The building was commenced in March, 1856, and finished in May, 1857. The front of the building on Main street is of stone, and on Commercial street of brick and stone. The front elevation on Main street, while it is not devoid of ornament, is yet sufficiently so to present an executive massiveness and grandeur. There are no expensive and meretricious ornaments to attract the fancy at the expense of the judgment, but all is simplicity, purity, and unostentation, and presents a very chaste and impressive effect. The height of the building from Main street to the cornice is seventy feet. The front is one hundred and twenty-five feet; depth about eighty-five feet. The exchange hall is one hundred and two feet by eighty-one in the clear, and is nearly as large as the great hall of the Mercantile Library, with twenty-six feet in the clear, surrounded with a deep cornice. Shown from the centre of the hall is an opening of nearly fifty feet, through which light is admitted from an elegant spandrel dome, forming the ceiling in the centre, and rising above the roof of the building. The reading-room is on the south side of the hall, and rests on fluted iron columns, and is eighteen by eighty-one feet in the clear, surmounted with a handsome iron railing. Above the exchange hall the space is subdivided into fourteen large offices. The cost of this building was about $75,000. The present value of the building and ground is $200,000.

CUSTOM HOUSE.

On a portion of the site whereon stood the finest theatre in St. Louis is located the Custom House. It is but recently completed, having been several years in erection. It has been under the direction of the most distinguished architects in the West — first under the charge of Messrs. Barnett & Peck, and then Thomas Walsh.

The building has all that stamina and massiveness peculiar to Egyptian architecture, but, with all its strength manifest in its immense blocks of stone, it still preserves a graceful and beautiful appearance, the heaviness being relieved by tasteful columns and pillars, which, without diminishing

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its strength, lend to it the attraction of Gothic architecture. It is a model of strength and beauty. The foundation is of piles — huge pieces of wood sharpened and driven by the power of machinery twenty-two feet in the earth. There is a vault running the whole length of the building, and the immense structure is supported upon arches. It is a model of architectural beauty and strength, and probably is the cheapest building ever erected, for which the general government had to pay the whole cost, being but $356,000.

There are scores of buildings which deserve a mention in this history, but we have not space for the purpose, and have selected but these two as significant of the merits of the rest. One is the creation of public and the other of private enterprise. In a future number of the continuance of this publication we will give a full account of the public and business edifices of our great Metropolis.

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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html
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