Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: SS Admiral, Tack Room at the Chase, Holiday Hill & More

The Admiral
Few St. Louis icons stir up fonder memories than the SS Admiral, the sleek Art Deco steamboat that called the St. Louis riverfront home for over sixty years. Launched as a river excursion boat in 1940, the Admiral offered a variety of entertainment, including daytime picnic trips, moonlight dance cruises, and just the simple chance to relax on the Lido deck and watch the city go by. In its heyday, the Admiral exemplified glamour, with finely dressed men and women twirling to Bob Kuban’s Brass or the Dick Renna Orchestra in air-conditioned ballrooms. And the breathtaking powder rooms were named after movie stars of the era. The Admiral cruised and entertained until the late 1970s when hull damage forced it to be permanently moored. The following years brought ownership change, with eventual conversion to a nightclub and then a few years as a casino. Today, only wonderful memories remain, as the Admiral was sold for scrap in 2011.

Tack Room at the Chase
A twenty-four-hour restaurant located in one of St. Louis’s most famous hotels, the Tack Room is remembered by many as a place to be seen in St. Louis. Located in the Chase Park Plaza, the Tack Room was a late-night dining destination, a place where you could find many Many performers, famous guests, and plenty of regular folks enjoying a late meal or a piece of the restaurant’s memorable cheesecake. From the 1960s to the 1980s, the Tack Room fed people late, but the restaurant’s run ended when the Chase was closed for remodeling in the 1990s.

Freund Baking Company
Few bakeries in St. Louis can lay claim to the amount of history that Freund Baking Company can. It all began in 1856 when two immigrants named Morityz and Jetta Freund began baking their own recipe for Bohemian rye bread in their Soulard home and selling it to the neighbors. One hundred years later, Freund Baking had transformed into one of the largest baked goods companies in the Midwest. Along the way, Freund’s famous rye bread was served to Union soldiers stationed at Jefferson Barracks during the Civil War, at the first Veiled Prophet ball in 1878, and at the 1904 World’s Fair. Freund Baking Company remained in the family until the 1970s, when it was sold to another company.

Introduced by the William J. Lemp Brewery in 1899, Falstaff became Lemp’s flagship product before it was sold to “Papa Joe” Griesedieck in 1920. Surviving Prohibition, Griesedieck renamed his company the Falstaff Brewing Corporation in 1933 and began expanding his brewing enterprise beyond St. Louis. By the 1960s, Falstaff was the third-largest brewer in the United States and operated several plants in the St. Louis area. Remembered as a crisp and refreshing lager, Falstaff’s sales plummeted in the 1970s. Currently owned by Pabst, production of Falstaff was halted in 2005.

National Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame
With one of the greatest bowlers of all time (Dick Weber) calling St. Louis home, it makes sense that St. Louis was selected as the site of the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum in 1984. Sharing a building with the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame, the museum was located across the street from Busch Stadium, Offering an interactive look at the long history of the sport, with exhibits featuring pin setters and bowling shirts, the museum even offered free bowling for visitors. With Ballpark Village on the horizon, the museum left St. Louis in 2008. It’s now located in an office park in Arlington, Texas.

Holiday Hill
Along with large amusement parks, small theme parks such as Holiday hill provided fun for the entire family or for school picnics. Located just south of the airport, Holiday Hill offered plenty of popular rides such as Tilt-A-Whirl, an octopus, and a Dodgem. The park also featured plenty of other fun amenities including a swimming pool, miniature golf, and a driving range. A visit of possible airport expansion in the 1970s, Holiday Hill closed in 1976. Many of the rides were relocated to Chain of Rocks Amusement Park.

Virginia Theatre
Originally a vaudeville and movie house built for August A. Busch in 1910, the Virginia is one of the most architecturally unique movie houses in St. Louis. Located at the Y-shaped intersection of Virginia and Vermont Avenues, the theater contained a small round lobby and narrow auditorium that fanned out toward the stage. The Wehrenberg chain purchased the theater in 1928 and operated it until it was closed in 1956. Since then, the Virginia has been home to various church groups. The building currently stands empty in South St. Louis.

Information from Lost Treasures of St. Louis by Cameron Collins

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