Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: The Meyer Mansion | 2733 Keokuk

It’s not hard to see why Christian Frederick Gottlieb Meyer (left) went by C.F.G.—and named his second son just Henry. The son of a Prussian shepherd, Christian, along with his brother Theodore, grew a small wholesale druggist’s supply into what became the largest pharmaceutical company in the world.

Meyers Bros. Drug Co. sold bulk supplies to pharmacies but made its fortune with such cosmetics as Soul Kiss perfume and ready-to-take bottled drugs that didn’t need to be ground by a pharmacist. And yet despite his influence, this sketch, photographed in 1946, is the only visual record we have of C.F.G’s mansion, which once stood at 2733 Keokuk.

There’s scarcely anyting written about it, either. We know that Mr. Meyer threw an employee-appreciation party here a few years before his 1905 death and that his employees, including John Queeny—a drug sales rep who’d go on to found Monsanto—presented the 72-year-old with a “grandfather’s clock.” We know that the Widow Meyer furnished her house with trophy zebras, springboks, and bears shot by her son in Johannesburg, where he fled after a high-profile divorce from socialite Annie Lemp.

Henry returned to St. Louis only once, for the 1904 World’s Fair, accompanied by 500 soldiers from the Boer Wars (below). Using his father’s fortune, he directed them in re-creations of battles, almost bankrupting the company by taking it on the road.

Eventually, more sober members of the Meyers clan steered the company back to solvency; Meyers Bros. was instrumental in creating the modern soda fountain–pharmacy hybrid. Though vestiges of the company disappeared, just like C.F.G.’s mansion, when Fox Meyer Drug Company got swallowed up by another corporation in 2009, we feel its influence every time we go to CVS to pick up a prescription—and walk out with a lipstick and a candy bar, too.

This article was originally published in Design STL’s May/June 2018 issue.