I was recently looking at a collection of historic Route 66 photographs including St. Louis when I stumbled upon this view above of 12th and Chouteau from 1925. I immediately thought of the nearly blank orange brick box that sits at the northeast corner of the intersection. The way it hugs Chouteau and the entrance of the Tucker Boulevard viaduct heading into Downtown had always made me suspect that it is older than it looks, but never did I imagine that the building began its life as the beautiful neoclassical bank pictured above. According to City property records, the bank was constructed in 1924.
At some point, in the late 1960's or 1970's the building became part of Checkerboard Square, the headquarters of Nestle Purina, and was sheathed in orange brick to match several other buildings on the corporate campus.
A steel security door centered on the blank brick front of 1111 Chouteau gives little clue of the former columned grand bank entrance. Only the projection of the center of the facade follows the form of the hidden architectural details.
The seven double height arched windows which faced Tucker and no doubt opened into a grand 2-story banking hall have been reduced to a series of brick bars giving the building the appearance of a jail.
The east facade is not much better, with the brick bars continuing at the ground floor and a thin slot of strip windows at the second floor, which was likely inserted into the bank hall.
I wondered what could be housed in this horribly re-muddled brick box? Maybe computer servers?, maybe the campus maintenance department? There is no signage on the public facades of the building even indicating it is part of Purina or what it contains. I was quite surprised to learn after a quick Google search that 1111 Chouteau is home to Checkmark Communications, Nestle Purina's in-house creative communications and design agency. What!? The staff of "creative communications and design agency" of a major corporation are housed in this thing? Maybe there would be more creativity going on if the orange brick skin was ripped off and those wonderful large windows opened again.