Standing on 9th Street between Olive and Pine in downtown St. Louis is the Paul Brown Building. Built by architect Preston Bradshaw and completed in 1926, the building is named after Paul Brown, a prominent St. Louis tobacco salesman. Now an apartment complex, all three sides of the Paul Brown building is still in their original 1926 configuration. In 2002, due to Preston Bradshaw’s use of the Renaissance Revival style, the Paul Brown Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The closest hotel to this landmark is the Omni Majestic Hotel.
The building’s roots date back to 1925 when Paul Brown commissioned famous architect Preston Bradshaw to make an office building for him in the Renaissance Revival style. The original plans for the building called for a building that was 16 stories tall. However, the tenants on the main floor of the building that was already there, the Oddfellows Building, refused to leave. A compromise was quickly reached that allowed the tenants to stay while the building was partly demolished, a move that left the first floor intact. After the demolition was finished, construction begin on Paul Brown’s office building. As part of the agreed on compromise, the north wing of the Paul Brown building was built on top of the old Oddfellows building, with the north wing being raised to 12 stories while the building’s south wing was built up to the planned 16 stories. Constriction on the building was completed and opened for business in 1926. During the coming years, the Paul Brown building served as the prime location for many businesses, including attorneys, retail, jewelers, furriers and restaurants. By the 1990s, the Paul Brown building had been sitting vacant and was in danger of being torn down. In 2000, the Pyramid Construction bought the building in order to renovate it. Rosemann Architects came up with the adaptive reuse of the building into an apartment space. The conversion process, lead by Paric Construction, lasted until 2005.
Despite being converted into a loft apartment space, the Paul Brown building has retained its Renaissance Revival exterior. Unlike many of the other buildings in the area, all sides of the Paul Brown building have remained unchanged since the building first opened. On the exterior of the street level, green awnings were removed to update the building’s look a bit. The interior of the main floor features an L-shaped barrel-vaulted corridor with plaster coffers. This feature forms the public lobby of the Paul Brown building. In the end, the Paul Brown building is one of St. Louis’s little known, yet highly visible landmarks. Despite being listed on the national register, the building’s past is not as well known as other landmarks in the city. The building’s renaissance design and unspoiled exterior make the building stand out from the ones around it. In the end, the Paul Brown building is one of St. Louis’s most seen and yet little known landmarks.