Best Historic Building - 2000
Readers' Choice: Old Court House
The Merchandise Mart, at 1000 Washington Ave., is a designated city landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The brick seven-story commercial building takes up the entire block bounded by Washington Avenue and St. Charles, 10th and 11th streets. The building occupies a site within the eastern portion of the Washington Avenue Historic District. Completed in 1889 from the plans of architect Isaac S. Taylor, the structure was originally called the Liggett and Myers Building, after the tobacco company that commissioned its construction. Soon the building became known as the headquarters for the Rice-Stix dry-goods company. The building is probably the city's most outstanding example of late-19th-century warehouse design. Its granite base, arched windows and spiral wrought-iron fire escape are among its appealing exterior attributes. It is also considered one of St. Louis' first experiments in the Richardsonian Romanesque Revival style. St. Louis bought the building in 1998 from developer Larry Deutsch for $4.5 million. The city's Land Clearance Reutilization Authority purchased the Merchandise Mart as a part of the package deal that included the acquisition of redevelopment rights for the south side of Washington Avenue to advance the city's plan to turn the old Gateway Hotel into a convention-center hotel.