The Planter’s House Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, is best known for a meeting which took place there on June 11, 1861. Gov. Claiborne Jackson, Gen. Sterling Price, and governor’s aide Col. Thomas L. Sneed met with Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, Frank Blair, and Major Conant in an attempt to keep Missouri neutral and out of the American Civil War. The meeting did not go well for the governor or the people of Missouri. The First Battle of Boonville took place six days later.
But this Planter’s House was neither the original nor the last Planter’s House Hotel.
Evarist Maury opened the first Planter’s House Hotel in 1817. It was located on Second Street. Maury had planned to expand the hotel, but a group of prominent businessmen decided to build the grandest and largest hotel in the city. Judge J. B. C. Lucas chaired the meeting and a committee was created to determine the best location for the new venture and find shareholders to finance the project. The site for the new hotel was on Fourth Street and owned by Judge Lucas. Shareholders met on December 6, 1836, to elect G. W. Call, J. Charles, D. Lamont, J. C. Laveille, Alexander R. Simpson, D. D. Page, and E. Tracy as company directors. With one thousand dollars in capital, a charter was granted by the 1836-37 Legislature and ground was broken in March 1837. The new hotel, which took four years to build, was almost named The Lucas House after Judge Lucas, but it was finally decided to stick with the original name. The four-story, 300-room hotel was furnished with rich carpets and paintings, and the cutlery was custom ordered from England with the hotels’ initials engraved on each piece. Planter’s House boasted two dining rooms and it was said Planter’s Punch was invented at the hotel bar. The second Planter’s House Hotel opened for business in April 1841. The cost of a room was $4.25 per person and included four meals. Politicians and businessmen gathered at the hotel. Other notable guests who stayed there included Henry Clay, William F. Cody (aka Buffalo Bill), Jefferson Davis, U. S. Grant, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln. A fire damaged the historic Planter’s Hotel in 1887 and the building was torn down in 1891.
It’s said that when one door is closed, another is opened, and that is how the third and last Planter’s House Hotel came to be. St. Louis leaders had secured pledges of five million dollars plus another one million for entertainment to host the upcoming Columbian Exposition in 1893. After losing the bid to Chicago, a one-million-dollar bonus was offered to the company or individual who would build a first-class, fireproof hotel in St. Louis. A group of investors chose Fourth and Pine for the new hotel and hired Isaac Taylor to design it. This latest Planter’s Hotel had 400 rooms, an elegant restaurant, as well as a ladies’ dining room and various meeting and banquet rooms. Bartender Charles Dietrich created the Tom Collins after a regular customer. The hotel closed in 1922.
Although the building was later converted into office space, it was eventually demolished in 1976.
Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News for over ten years. She has covered the War Between the States, US history, and Cooper County history. In celebration of Missouri’s upcoming Bicentennial, she has syndicated her column statewide and encourages readers all over the Show Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to HistoricallyYours.firstname.lastname@example.org.