In an act that can only be described as the complete absence of foresight, the Beaumont was imploded in 1997, the same year legislation was written to establish the Missouri Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, which became effective on January 1st of the following year. Fast Forward ten years, and large historic buildings are viewed as an important asset to Grand Center, with renovations bring new apartment and condo residents and possibly a hotel
Photo from "Missouri's Contribution to Architecture" published in 1928 by the St. Louis Architectural Club.The Beaumont not long before it met its doom
Gone in Sixty Seconds. For some better photos of the implosion, check out Built St. Louis
The sites of the Beaumont and the smaller building to the west are occupied today by the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Both are great buildings and important ingredients in the revitalization of Grand Center. Both could have been built on vacant land or one of the many surface parking lots around the area, in fact an Ando exhibit several years ago at SLAM showed the original site for the Pulitzer on the site where Channel 9 built a few years later.
I was a student at SLU when the building was imploded, and I wandered over to check it out. In retrospect, I wish I wouldn't have - we lost a great building that day. There's no doubt in my mind that had Grand Center mothballed the Beaumont, it would now be a great addition to the area, as the Continental is. There's no reason that the Pulitzer could not have been built elsewhere within the district.
Some 50 years ago my parents and I visited the Beaumont Medical Building many times as my Mother had several dental surgeries there. We traveled almost 100 miles from rural west central Illinois for the procedures. Aside from being a kid fidgeting in a dental waiting room, I have several memories, including my first exposure to both capacitance "buttons" (touch sensitive without movement) for the elevators and the one-way exit spikes in the adjacent parking lot. (We also saw "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" at the Fox Theater, a somewhat frustrating experience as we sat in a middle balcony and the top 15-20% of the screen was cut off by the upper balcony.)
My overarching memory, however, is of the Coffee Shop in the building. My hometown had drug store fountain counters, but nothing nearly as crowded, smoky, and exciting as that coffee shop. Waitresses in uniform, clattering plates, waiting for a seat, and listening to conversations about city topics were all new to me. Sad to see it gone, but the part I liked best was gone long ago.
Sorry this happened. My eye doctor was in this building and I remember going there and even as a grade school student an being impressed with this building.
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