Also known as The Grand-Leader,
SBF's building covered the whole block
between Sixth, Seventh,
Washington Avenue and Lucas Street.
After World War II, SBF added a ninth floor to the
older building along Sixth Street.
This view along Washington Avenue shows
both the newer, 1919 building and the older,
1906 part with the ninth floor added.
SBF's sixth floor was home to the highly-regarded
Missouri Room restaurant.
In 1965, Stix, Baer & Fuller built a parking garage on the corner
of Seventh Street and Washington Avenue, diagonally across
from the store and connected by a pedestrian bridge.
The Grand-Leader since 1892
601 Washington Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
Parkway Shops • Basement Photo Studio
Precious Jewelry • Fashion Jewelry • Watch Bar • Silver • 601 Shops • Handbags • Small Leather Goods • Belts • Gloves • Accessory Bars • Hosiery • Scarves • Headwear • DeMura Millinery • Umbrellas • Cosmetics • Avenue Blouses • Avenue Sweaters • Avenue Sportswear • Avenue Lingerie • Avenue Shoes • Stationery • Cameras • Coins and Stamps • Candy • Gourmet Shop • SBF Bakery • Calico Corner Lunch Counter
Store for Men Smoke Shop • Men's Furnishings • Men's Sportswear • Men's Shoes
General Repair Center • Employment Office • Customer Lounge • Gift Wrap
Linens • Bath Shop • Fashion Fabrics • Necchi Sewing Circle • Art Needlework • Bridal Salon • Daytime Dresses • Girdles and Bras • Lingerie • Daywear • Sleepwear • Loungewear • Trendsetter Lingerie • Maternity Shop • Uniforms • Trim 'n Tie Shop (seasonal) • Shoe Salon • Etienne Aigner Boutique • The Shop for Pappagallo • The Other Place
Modernette Dresses • Modernette Coats • Modernette Suits • Modernette Hats • Blouse Bar • Women's World • Casual Dresses • Uniforms • Dress Salon • Knit Shop • Coat Salon • Leather Shop • Four Seasons Shop • Sport Shop • Swim Shop • Contempora • Individualist Dress Shop • Sports Individualist • Mis SBF Shop • Miss SBF Sport • Signature Dresses • Signature Sportswear • Lion Country • Evan Picone Shop • Status Jeans • The Ms. Shop • Designers' Salon • Fur Salon • French Room Millinery • Wig Salon
Young Flair Junior Sportswear • Junior Dresses • Junior Coats • Junior Shoes • Junior Lingerie • The Place for Young juniors
Credit Office • Cash Office
Store for Men Men's Casual Wear • New Breed Shop • Contemporary Man • Men's Clothing • Marbrooke Shop • Men's Tailored Separates • Men's Outerwear • Men's Rainwear • Luggage
Housewares • Small Appliances • The Cookin' Place • The Gourmet Shop • Major Appliances • Floor Care Center • Conservation Center • Paint Center • Kitchen, Bathroom Remodeling • Garden Shop • China • Glassware • Waterford Galleries • Bride's Registry • Pictures • Mirrors • Toy World • Cheshire Studio (portraits)
Draperies • Drapery Fabrics • Carpeting • Gift Shop • Lamps • Music Salon • Records • Books • Sporting Goods • Health Aids • SBF Optical
Missouri Room • Busy Bee Cafeteria
Furniture • Furniture Accessories • Sleep Shop • Williamsburg Craft House • Williamsburg Tavern • Santa's Country Cottage (seasonal)
Beauty Salon • Founders' Hall • Executive Offices
Clayton Rd. and Brentwood Blvd.
August 20, 1955
The Garden Room
Halls Ferry Rd. & Jennings Station Rd.
August 7, 1961
Hwy. 66 & Sappington Rd.
January 23, 1967
240,000 sq. ft.
The Garden Room
Old Jamestown Rd. & Lindbergh Rd,.
February 4, 1974
The Garden Room
Lindbergh Blvd. & St. Charles Rock Rd.,
March 20, 1978
218,000 sq. ft.
The Garden Room
St. Clair Square
Lincoln Highway & N. Illinois St.
Fairview Heights, Illinois
April 23, 1979
173,000 sq. ft.
The Garden Room
For all of its life, Stix, Baer & Fuller proudly carried the names of its founders Charles A Stix (1859-1916), Julius A. Baer (1860-1940), Sigmund P. Baer (1862-1929), and Aaron Fuller (1858-1936); in fact, the "Founders' Hall" on the store's ninth floor, added in 1946, was named in honor of these four men. The store remained a family operation until its purchase in 1962 by Associated Dry Goods Co.
|The Founders of Stix, Baer & Fuller|
The two Baer brothers came to the United States from the town of Ihringen in the province of Baden, Germany, First came Julius in 1878, having borrowed the money to cross the Atlantic. He settled in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he took a job with a local dry goods merchant. Seeing the opportunity to go into business for himself, he repaid the money he borrowed to come to America and sent for his brother Sigmund, who arrived in 1879, The two opened the Baer Bros. store in little Magazine, Arkansas, and in 1885 went on to open the Boston Store in Fort Smith. They took on their sister Frieda's husband, Aaron Fuller, also a native of Baden, as a partner. Fuller had been employed by the large Boston Store (no relation to the eponymous Fort Smith store) in Chicago.
With their Fort Smith store established and making money, the partners considered expansion to either Texas or Tennessee, but Julius Baer made a visit to St. Louis, where a friend suggested they do business in the Gateway City. As a result of this visit, he met Charles A. Stix, a Cincinnati native who had relocated in St. Louis. The Bear Brothers and Fuller left the Boston Store in the hands of their employee Rudolf Ney, relocated to St. Louis, and, with Stix, founded the Grand-Leader - Stix, Baer & Fuller Dry Goods Co., which opened on September 1, 1892.
|The first Grand-Leader of 1892|
The Grand-Leader was located in the so-called Broadway Trades Palace, at 815-821 Broadway near Morgan Street. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the partners, at the time, were concerned that the quarters they had leased were too large for any business that they could imagine, but five years later, they were forced to find larger quarters for the Grand-Leader in a renovated warehouse on the northwest corner of Broadway and Washington Avenue that featured 6 elevators, electric lighting and a "French Room" for the display of the store's considerable stock of millinery. The prosperous business was incorporated in 1897 as well.
|The adapted warehouse that housed the store|
St. Louis experienced a great economic boom as the result of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in Forest Park in 1904. Stix, Baer & Fuller bought the land under the aging Lindell Hotel, demolished it, and hired architects Mauran, Russell and Garden to design a new, eight-story store building of 500,000 square feet. In preparation for the building, the owners and architects conducted an exhaustive study of the most admired retail buildings in the United States, in particular that of Marshall Field & Company in Chicago, the work of architect Daniel Burrnham.
When the new Store, on Sixth Street between Washington Avenue and Lucas Street, opened on September 8, 1906, it was a revelation. Whereas the Marshall Field & Company store, so admired by the architects and clients,was a cool and restrained limestone palace, the Stix, Baer & Fuller store was a riot of color. The building's brown brick plasters rose uninterrupted to a deep and elaborate terra-cotta cornice, above a base of green marble trimmed in cast bronze. Red Brick spandrel panels served as infill above and below the windows, and further bronze ornament and terra cotta detail complimented the rich and multichromatic composition.
|The $1 million home built for SBF in 1906|
The interior of the $1,000,000.00, custom built store furthered the progressive and modern image, especially on the light and airy, twenty-one foot high main floor, with its uninterrupted vistas and elaborate central circular soda fountain, topped with a bronze statue of "plenty" surrounded by cupids and dolphins spouting water into a central pool. One hundred patrons could be accommodated at the soda fountain's counters.
By 1919, Stix, Baer & Fuller had outgrown even this colossus of a store. After occupying, bit-by-bit, adjacent properties on the same block, store management hired the same architects to add an eleven-story building, identical to the original 1906 building in detail, that would extend the Grand Leader over the whole block bounded by Washington Avenue, Sixth Street, Lucas Street, and Seventh Street. It was hoped to increase the height of the 1906 building to eleven stories as well, but due to structural issues, it was not possible to do so. After the expanded store opened in 1920, SBF took on the form it would have for the rest of its life.
After two world wars and a depression, Stix embraced the prosperity of the postwar era by adding escalators, a modern 9th floor (over the 1906 portion of the building), and expanding the lucas street parking garage it built in 1940 to 4 floors. Later, in the 1960s, an additional parking garage was built for the convenience of patrons was built on the northwest corner of Lucas and Seventh streets, with a diagonal bridge leading into the store's third floor. Around this time, the street floor was remodeled as well, incorporating "air curtain" doors into the store's elegant confines.
|Detail of air curtain door on Washington Avenue|
After the death of the founders, management was contimued by Julius Baer's son Arthur B. Bear (1895-1970), and after his death by son J. Arthur Baer (1922-1993), who went by the nickname "Cubby." A somewhat unwelcome offer by discounter E. J. Korvette to purchase the assets of Stix, Baer & Fuller led to the sale of the store to Associated Dry Goods in 1962. The new ownership agreement allowed J. Arthur Baer to remain at the helm. and provided funds for the store's further expansion into the suburbs, and to Kansas city beginning in 1973. Later, ADG merged Springfield, Illinois' John Bressmer Co.'s 2 stores into the Stix operation.
|SBF's leaders in the postwar era|
While the 1970s were times of great prosperity for SBF, deteriorating economic conditions and competition from discounters brought losses for the store, and Associated Dry Goods as well. In an attempt to shed losing divisions, ADG sold Stix to Dillards in 1984. The new owners downsized the great downtown store to three floors when the innovative St. Louis Center Mall was opened, but the ultimate failure of downtown shopping in the Gateway City led to the closure of the store once known as the Grand-Leader. Today, the building has been converted into residential condominiums called The Laurel.