ST. LOUIS, MO/May 17, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) After deciding that he wanted a larger bar with a restaurant, original 1860’s owner Richard Marion realized he would need more parking. He looked across the street and saw two vacant lots with an old relic of a house between them. It was brick and painted bright orange. It was referred to in the neighborhood as the Pumpkin House. Richard bought all three properties with the idea of razing the Pumpkin House and making one nice parking lot.
With due diligence in mind, Richard went down to City Hall to get a permit to tear down the Pumpkin House. But, unbeknownst to him, the Pumpkin House was considered a historic property and could not be razed.
The city’s Heritage Committee informed Richard that his only option was to restore the property. Begrudgingly, he agreed to do so and hired local Soulard carpenters to begin gutting the building so it could be restored. This work seemed to take a long time with not much getting done, until one hot summer day the weather forecasters were predicting a sever storm coming through St. Louis during the night. Apparently Richard wanted to secure the building because he had a large crew working in it that day and they seemed to be doing a lot of sawing, hammering and removing of a lot of large timbers.
Well, as luck would have it, the heavy rain and windstorm did come through St. Louis that night, and, like the big bad wolf, it blew the Pumpkin House down. Richard called the city’s Building Commission to report the catastrophe and they had no choice but to declare the building a public hazard and that it needed to be torn down.
Out of the bad luck Richard saw the bright side and built his parking lot. Some seem to recall him saying, “Mother Nature was good to me that day.” And rumor has it that he toasted Her with a shot of Jager and called it the Soulard carpenters’ miracle.
This is installment 2 of 3. Installment 1 was The 1860 Saloon Building History. Stay tuned for Installment 3, 1860’s Ghosts, Legends and Myths
Location: 822 – 826 Geyer Ave., Soulard
Contributing Editor: Tom Gullickson