Source: Mercantile Library Collection

Construction Date:



Famous Barr was one of the three premier department stores located in downtown St. Louis. Owned by the May Company, Famous Barr took its name from what were originally two separate retail establishments: the "Famous" which was purchased by David May and his partner Moses Shoenberg in 1882, and the William Barr Dry Goods Company which was purchased by May in 1912. In 1958, Famous president, Morton D. May, joined the Downtown in St. Louis, Inc., a group dedicated to bringing people back downtown.

The downtown flagship store of Famous Barr occupied an entire square block between Olive, Locust, Sixth, and Seventh streets. It attracted shoppers from all over the city along with sightseers who ventured downtown to admire the store's special holiday window displays. During the 1950s, Famous Barr was a target of civil rights demonstrations on account of its discriminatory policy toward African American shoppers.