For over 45 years the Saint Louis Club has been the foremost private dining club in Saint Louis.

The Saint Louis Club is situated in the heart of Clayton, an ideal central location, in the Pierre Laclede Center

7701 Forsyth Boulevard

During the first week of December, 1964, the first major city club in the first major city club building to be erected in metropolitan St. Louis since 1917 marked its formal opening with a series of dinners and “open houses”.

According to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, these parties “rivaled, in glitter and sparkle, the lights of the city below”.

In describing the Club, the Globe-Democrat said, “Under crystal chandeliers in the new club, hung from a 19-foot ceiling in the 125-foot-long grand dining room, members and guests dined table d’hote at 35 intimate tables” and added that members could entertain at luncheon and dinner “in nine private dining rooms, seating eight to fifty persons”.

But the history of the Saint Louis Club starts long before December, 1964…four years before, in fact, when four men held a meeting to discuss the possibility of forming a club they were convinced the city badly needed. These men were G.J. Nooney, Sidney Studt, W. Alfred Hayes and Robert Mudd. The need, they were convinced, was for a luncheon and dinner club near residential and commercial areas built in the city’s westward expansion.

Three weeks later, the original group was joined by seven other men. They were M. Moss Alexander, Jr., Clark Gamble, David R. Calhoun, John J. Powers, Raymond E. Rowland, Ira E. Wright and Henry Cook. First order of business was to decide on a type of quarters. They agreed that they wanted their own club building on top of a skyscraper which the club did not have to own.

Within two months, wheels began to turn. Connecticut General Life Insurance Company agreed to finance a $7.5 million office building at Forsyth and Hanley in Clayton and to incorporate quarters for the club in the plans. The club was incorporated in Missouri on May 16, 1961 as named.

The first meeting of this Board was held July 7, 1961 at which time temporary officers were named and the number of Founding Members was fixed at sixty-three. A meeting of these Founding Members for the purpose of electing a permanent Board of Directors was also planned.

That meeting was held at the Log Cabin Club on March 19, 1962 under the chairmanship of Charles A. Thomas and, after Mr. Mudd, Chairman of the Building Committee, announced the plans for the Club on the top three floors of the Pierre Laclede Building in Clayton, the first permanent Board of Directors was elected. Permanent officers of the Club were elected by the new Board on the same date.

On November 4, 1963, the Board named Mr. Hugh Logan to the Board to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Mr. Hungerford, and at the same meeting, elected Mr. Logan President of the Club to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Mr. Powers. Mr. Logan served as President from that time until after the Club was successfully launched.

Meanwhile, plans for the Club moved forward. The Pierre Laclede Building was started on April 20, 1962 and its famous “round-the-clock” pouring of a central core was complete in just 17 days.

Plans for the Club quarters took shape. Smith and Entzeroth, architects for the building, located all mechanical equipment for the office building on the thirteenth floor, isolating the Club quarters above. They also converted enough space for four levels of offices into three high-ceilinged floors for the Club.

Schwarz and Van Hoefen, architects for the Club, drew up designs for the lounges, dining rooms, kitchen and the Club’s own heating and cooling system. The Club was to own everything but the building shell.

Alan A. Ferry of Atlanta, Georgia, designer for some of the nation’s finest clubs, planned the eighteenth century decor and worked with Rudolph-Sparks, Inc., also of Atlanta, assembling period antiques brought from France and Spain. All case pieces, from marble-top sideboards to writing desks, were authentic antiques. But rugs, carpets, all chairs and sofas were made to order as classic reproductions; practicality and comfort came first.

The designer used fine pieces of furniture and accessories that had been brought to St. Louis in the early days by rich fur traders. The sixteenth and fourteenth floor were furnished in the formal Eighteenth Century French fashion; the fifteenth, in the more informal Spanish provincial style. Wall paneling, ornate plaster work, cove ceilings, columns were also of the period. The private dining rooms were named for prominent people in early St. Louis history.

The Club was opened in December, 1964, with a membership of approximately four hundred Founding and Charter Members, and everyone from designers and workmen to members and guests were lavish in their praise. The Globe-Democrat said, “The height of elegance in city clubs has been reached by the newly-opened Saint Louis Club”.

Planning ahead, the Board of Directors in August, 1983, formed a lease renewal committee. Members of this committee were, in addition to the president, Zane E. Barnes, Donald E. Lasater, and Donald N. Brandin. This committee was to explore the future of the Club and the renewal of the Club’s lease in the Pierre Laclede Building. The initial lease was due to expire in 1989, and the Board wanted to allow sufficient time to negotiate a lease extension or move the Club if a satisfactory lease could not be negotiated with the owners of the building. A contingency fund was established and had grown to over $1 million by the time a lease renewal agreement was signed in March, 1986. The new lease would assure the Club a home in the Pierre Laclede Building until the turn of the century.

With the successful lease negotiation accomplished, President Donald N. Brandin and House Committee Chairman John J. Nooney engaged Ferry-Hayes Designers of Atlanta and SMP Architects of St. Louis to make a detailed study of the Club premises. The design team advised the Club that a complete renovation and redecorating task was in order after 23 years of use. While the architectural detail and antique furnishings of the Club premises were still intact, much of the behind the scenes mechanical and kitchen equipment was in need of replacement. Most areas of the Club needed redecorating. Changing lifestyles indicated a need for an intimate gourmet dining room and a less formal casual room with its own service kitchen. The limited health facility was under-utilized by the membership. This space could be put to better advantage in a new layout for the 14th Floor.

The cost to accomplish all that was required to keep the Saint Louis Club at the forefront of city clubs far exceeded the $1 million set aside in the contingency fund. With only 14 years left on the renewal lease, the membership would not have sufficient time to amortize the extensive improvements. President Brandin, seeing the need to do the whole job and not piecemeal the refurbishing, sought and obtained from the landlord an additional tenure for the Club which would enable the Club to occupy the space in the Pierre Laclede Building until November 30, 2009. (Subsequent negotiations have extended the lease to 2017, with two five-year renewal options.)

A Building Committee was formed and the plans were presented to this committee in January, 1988. The members of the committee in addition to Messrs. Brandin and Nooney were Donald E. Lasater, Robert Quenon, Brice R. Smith, H. Edwin Trusheim, and James L. Hoagland. The committee endorsed the program presented by Donald N. Brandin and authorized the president to proceed with plan and cost estimates. The Board of Directors approved a $3 million renovation program at a meeting in February, 1988. While an expenditure of $3 million seemed large, it was estimated that the cost to duplicate the Club in 1988 dollars would range as high as $10 million. The program was financed using the contingency fund, a bank loan, and a modest assessment on active members.

Work started in May, 1988, with the closing of the 14th Floor. This floor would remain out of service for five months, until it reopened in November, 1988. The 14th Floor reopened with a completely remodeled and enlarged “Back Door” restaurant with its own service kitchen, the enlarged and expanded club office, Founders Hall and pre-function lounge. The employees’ dining room and locker facility was also moved to the 14th Floor, making additional kitchen space available on the 15th Floor.

The entire Club was closed August 1, 1988, and reopened on September 6, 1988. During this short five-week period, the entire 15th and 16th Floors were painted, carpeted, and the kitchen and mechanical system received a complete overhaul.

The Lewis & Clark Room on the 16th Floor reopened in November, 1988. Entrance to this room is off the courtyard resembling the garden topiary at Versailles. The room itself is decorated in the classic French style against 18th century boiserie and gilt.

On December 4, 1988, a members-only open house was held to celebrate the reopening of the Saint Louis Club. After five years of planning, construction and extraordinary attention to detail, the restored Club opened to considerable acclaim and wide-ranging favorable critical review, ready to continue the high degree of excellence it had maintained during its first quarter of a century of existence.

A Menu Committee was formed in 1991 to research the needs and desires of members and the following “mission statement” was established and adopted:

The Saint Louis Club strives to be the foremost dining club in the Midwest. Achievement of this goal depends upon the ability to serve consistently high quality, predictable, and on occasion, extraordinary, food in a comfortable and elegant atmosphere that is pleasing to the members and guests. Responsibility for attainment of this objective is shared equally by membership, management, staff, and the Board of Directors.

Click here to view the Room Dedications.