Across the street from Union Station – once the nation’s largest train terminal – is a four-story brick building that once housed a plush clubhouse, fitness facility and hotel for the St. Louis Railroad Young Men’s Christian Association. Just west of the Union Station train shed, it originally opened its doors on September 1, 1907, to serve as many as 400,000 transient railroad workers per year. The original four-story brick building with a basement was designed by Theodore Link, the same architect who designed Union Station. The lower level contained a bowling alley, barbershop, indoor swimming pool and locker room facilities. The YMCA closed in 1970 as passenger railroad travel declined at Union Station.
Over the years, the building had been used for a variety of purposes. In 1986, it was in the process of demolition when Drury Hotels purchased the building. This was Drury Hotels’ first historic renovation. The top design priority was to restore and preserve the original architectural beauty of the building. As the Drury team peeled away the decades of drywall and plaster added in renovations over the years, the original lobby was revealed: terrazzo flooring in perfect condition, and a grand staircase with cast-iron railings and marble and slate stairs. The original 1920s buzzer board is displayed prominently behind the oak wood-paneled and granite front desk.
The original, wood-framed window arches and the leaded glass windows were restored in today’s front lobby, which was used as a gathering space in the days of the YMCA. The front lobby was filled with billiards and game tables, and a separate space was designated as a reading room. Administrative offices were behind the reception desk. YMCA guests enjoyed the on-site restaurant. The second floor contained a large library and an auditorium. In the renovation, Drury Hotels added a west wing with additional guest rooms and a parking garage. An indoor swimming pool links the two buildings.