The Drury Inn & Suites-Convention Center is built within and atop Union Market, a building used as a public market for the city of St. Louis. Originally built in 1866, the old Union Market occupied a full city block at Delmar and Broadway and was the city’s greatest public market.
Public markets were once a vital part of St. Louis life. People thronged to them to purchase food because they provided a far greater variety of eatables, simple and gourmet, than the smaller corner grocery of that day. As a meeting place for shoppers it had its social aspects.
The old Union Market was torn down and transformed into a handsome new Union Market on the same site. It was erected by the city in 1925 at the cost of $1,350,000. The structure was designed by Edward E. Christopher. The market officially opened on November 5, 1925. When the doors opened at 7 a.m., crowds of people visited the building interested in seeing the second largest structure of its kind in the United States.
The market possessed the newest innovations and appointments in the handling of food products. In the interior one saw nothing but terrazzo floors, white enamel bricks, plate glass, marble and polished metal. Food was serviced by a central refrigeration plant which furnished the correct temperature uniformly in every stand.
Unfortunately, the handsome new Union Market was never a rousing success. Interest in public markets began to wane and the corner groceries grew larger and more important. People were going to the well-stocked private groceries and meat markets that were springing up everywhere. Over the years, Union Market supplemented its income by providing parking garage space and by renting part of the structure for a bus terminal.
Charles Drury’s 1976 dream of opening a hotel atop Union Market became a reality in 1990. Mr. Drury’s intention was to renovate and expand the property into a 178-room hotel that would become a major part of the St. Louis Convention Center market. Through careful renovation of the first floor, many of the building’s original features are retained throughout the hotel lobby and mezzanine meeting level. An additional two stories were built atop the existing four, which provide the 178 guest rooms. The entire project was based upon the premise of carefully blending the past to the present.