Buster Brown Blue Ribbon Shoe Factory

St. Louis City

The building historically known as the Buster Brown Blue Ribbon Shoe Factory was constructed in 1901 at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Mullanphy Street on St. Louis’s North Side. Designed by H. C. Roach and Son, the factory was built for the LaPrelle Williams Shoe Company. Acquired by Brown Shoe Company, which produced the Buster Brown shoe in 1904, the company continued to operate there until 1940 and finally sold the building in 1955. The Buster Brown character, along with his girlfriend, Mary Jane and his pit bull terrier, Tighe were drawn from a popular comic strip of the time. The building here has a wedge-shaped U-plan, with a curved five-story tower with recessed entry on the principal corner façade. The building has retained much of its original character, including segmental arched window openings, with little of its interior altered since the turn of the 20th century, retaining it integrity of location, design, materials, workmanship, feeling and association. The building is important in the industrial history of St. Louis, the city having been the third leading state in the manufacture of shoes by the early 1900s. As part of Brown Shoe Company’s progressive expansion program in the first decade of the twentieth century, they created specialized factories devoted to a single line of shoes, and the Buster Brown factory holds a significant place in the history of shoe manufacturing, as well as in the socio-industrial development of the City’s near north side period. It is the last large manufacturing building remaining in north St. Louis. This structure is currently endangered by the federal government’s plan to build a new site for its National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) on the site. Its current owner is negotiating a purchase agreement with the City of Saint Louis and plans to relocate the building 600 feet to the south of its current location to redevelop the building into an historic hotel. 

Listed in 2016.

Update: Demolished 🙁

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