The St. Louis Railroad Young Men’s Christian Association building originally opened its doors on September 1, 1907. The total cost to erect and furnish the structure was $250,000, largely donated by Miss Helen Gould in loving memory of her father, Jay Gould. To commemorate the dedication, a large bronze tablet was placed in the vestibule of the main entrance facing Union Station. Unfortunately this tablet, subject of recent newspaper articles, was taken in the late 1960’s by vandals canvassing the area for valuable metals.
The building was described in 1907, by the now defunct St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat newspaper, as “Splendid...one of the most imposing Railroad YMCA structures in the United States.” The scheme of the plan by designer Theodore Link, who also designed the Union Station building, was a “modern compromise between a clubhouse and a hotel."
During the prime days of railroads, the YMCA served as many as 400,000 transient railroad workers annually. The lower level of the building, at one time, contained a bowling alley, a barbershop, meeting rooms, an indoor swimming pool, locker rooms and baths.
The main level of the Railroad YMCA contained a number of billiard tables, game tables and reading or correspondence desks in the front portion. The rear half was devoted to the restaurant, the main office and the office of the Executive Secretary.
On the upper floors, accessible by both elevator and staircase, 114 single bedrooms were used to house overnight guests of the YMCA. In addition, the second floor contained a beautifully decorated library of 5,000 well-selected books, and an auditorium used for lectures.
As years passed, the general demise of passenger, railway postal express and other railroad activities centered at Union Station, had an adverse effect on the continuing operation of the Railroad YMCA. Facing a deficit position, with little prospect for reversing the trend, the St. Louis Railroad YMCA officially ceased all operations on December 31, 1970.
In August 1986, Charles L. Drury announced the acquisition of the Railroad YMCA building and his intention to renovate and expand the property for use as a Drury Inn, which would blend nicely with the recently restored Union Station. Careful renovation has utilized many of the building’s original features including large fireplaces, leaded-glass windows, oak wood paneling, and interior columns with marble bases. A faded elegance still lingers in the building’s main floor with a marble and slate stairway leading to beautifully decorated and enhanced guest rooms.