by Michael R. Allen
There’s nothing quite like a posh urban hotel. A fine hotel has long been the ultimate urban meeting place. From big convergences of finely-dressed party-goers to small groups of martini-lunch businessmen to encounters even more discreet — the hotel is the place. The hotel is a fashionable but not ostentatious place for all manner of meetings, dining and drinks.
Hotels like the Chase, Park Plaza, the Mayfair and the Coronado are the legendary settings. How do we know this? The stories people tell. People talk about the restaurants, the dances, the political meetings, the bars, the music, the celebrities and all the things that made these more than just pretty buildings. we know that these buildings connected a lot of lives, and became part of thousands of memories.
The mid-century DeVille Motor Hotel at 4483 Lindell Boulevard, later the Holiday Inn Midtown, is not as old as the stalwarts of St. Louis’ golden age of hotels, but it was the cream of the crop for the modern era. The DeVille definitely was a social hub in the 1960s and early 1970s. Perhaps we don’t think of stories from that recent past as part of our history, but we should. The DeVille was the meeting spot for a different generation — one that shaped contemporary St. Louis and breathed life into a city struggling with depopulation and sprawl. At the DeVille, the Central West End extended its glory days long enough to survive, and thousands of St. Louisans passed through its doors in the process.
What are their stories?
At B.E.L.T, Toby Weiss is collecting those tales from our recent past. Submit one of of your own here. This is a great project! Too often, we don’t know how much a role a place has played in our lives until its lost. That’s a shame, because we have the power to keep history alive in our own time simply by saving our own stories for future generations.