Famous-Barr Co., St. Louis, Missouri

Check out the History Press'
new book about Famous-Barr

Famous-Barr occupied the lower floors of the
enormous Railway Exchange Building in
downtown St. Louis on September 8, 1913.

Eventually, Famous-Barr grew into 13 floors of the
Landmark terra-cotta faced structure.

Famous-Barr Co.
601 Olive Street
St. Louis, Missouri
GArfield 1-4500

Down Under Grill and CafeteriaFamous-Barr Basement Economy Store

Basement Balcony
Famous-Barr Basement Economy Store

Main Floor
Eagle Stamp Desk (6th Street)  Precious Jewelry • Antique Jewelry  Better Jewelry  Costume Jewelry • Clocks  Shaver Service Center  Handbags • Gloves • Neckwear • Fashion Accessories • Hosiery • Bra Bar  The Danskin Shop  First Floor Lingerie  First Floor Blouses  First Floor Sweaters  First Floor Knits  First Floor Sportswear  Boulevard Shop Shoes  Cosmetics • Toiletries • Drugs • Notions  Stationery • Greeting Cards • Gourmet Foods  Candy  Bakery  Men's Furnishings  The Editions  Smoke Shop  Men's Dress Shirts  Men's Underwear  Men's Hosiery  Men's Sport Shirts  Eagle Stamp Desk (7th Street)  Walter Knoll Florist  Brown Bag Cafe

Main Floor Balcony

Second Floor
Men's Clothing  Men's Outerwear  Madison Avenue Shop  Men's Casual Sportswear  Men's Tailored Sportswear  St. Louisan Shop  Pace Shop  Quad Shop  Mike's Place  Prep Boys’ Wear  Men's Shoes  Men's Hats  Cameras  Prep Boys’ Wear  Stamps and Coins  Papa Fabarre's

Third Floor
Patio Shop (Casual Shoes)  Red Cross Shoes  Locke Shoes  Florsheim Shoes  Foot Saver Shoes  Miss Famous Shoes  Shoe Salon  Paragon Shop Shoes  Sorority House Shoes  Younger Generation Shoes  Domestics  Sheets • Blankets  Bedding  Towels  Bath Shop  Closet Shop  Organization Shop  Table Linens  Closet Shop  Organization Shop  Fabrics  Singer Sewing Center  Customers' Service Desk  Jewelry Repair  Handbag and Shoe Clinic  Optical Center  Hearing Aids  Famous-Barr World Travel Bureau  Jean Sardou Portrait Studio

Fourth Floor
Junior Shop Junior Dresses  Junior Sportswear  Junior Coats  Junior Boutique  Junior Lingerie  Junior Shoes  Young Sophisticates  Way-In  Way-In Shoes
Town & Country Sportswear  Dresses  Coats
Forecast Shop Sportswear  Dresses  Coats  Suits
Women's World  Women's Edition  Active Sportswear  Sun 'n' Suds Shop  Sweaters  Blouses  Separates  Casual Stop Dresses  Contemporary Coats  Thoroughbred Shop  All-Weather Coats  Young Image  FB Shop  Tempo Shop  Pacesetter Shop  Designer Sportswear Shop  Anne Klein Corner  Suit Salon  Coat Salon  Special Collection  Costume Room  Aigner Shop  Fur Salon  Bride's Shop  The Little Shop Around the World  Ice Cream and Candy Shop  Bridge to Parking Garage

Fifth Floor
Miss Famous Shop Dresses • Sportswear • Coordinates  Coats  Suits
Daytime Dresses  Foundations  Body Shapers  Daywear Lingerie  Sleepwear  Loungewear  Maternity Shop  Uniforms  Millinery  Jerome Alexander Wig Boutique  Infants' Wear  Infants' Furniture  Infants' Strollers  Tots' Wear  Toddler Girls  Toddler Boys  Little Boys’ Wear  Little Girls’ Wear  Girls’ Wear  Girls’ Accessories  Children's Sleepwear and Underwear  Young Teens  Young Juniors

Sixth Floor
Books • The Gift Shop • The Plus Shop  The Brass Shop • The Treasure Shop • Candles  Decorative Flowers  Wicker Shop  Bird-in-Hand Shop  Pictures, Mirrors  New Reflections Shop  Prep Boys’ Wear  Gift Wrapping Service • Draperies • Decorative Fabrics • Slip Covers • Art and Framing • Art Needlework  Travel Service  Trim-A-Home Shop

Seventh Floor
China • Dinnerware • Silverware • Fine Crystal • Glassware • Housewares • Tabletop Housewares  Gift Housewares  Small Electrical Appliances  Everything for the Kitchen • The Gourmet Cookery  Cook's Kitchen  New Home Attitudes  Major Appliances  Housekeeping Supplies  Soaps  Home Improvement Center  Affordable Furniture  Unpainted Furniture  Dinettes  Paints and Wallcovering • Hardware • Metal Cabinets  Garden Center • Pet Shop  Art Supplies Center  Optical Services • Portrait Studio • Beauty Shop • The St. Louis Room Restaurant • Men's Grill

Eighth Floor
Floor Care  Radios • Televisions • Home Stereos • Records  Typewriters  Business Machines • Toys • Auto Accessories  Sporting Goods  Outdoor Furniture

Ninth Floor
Carpeting • Rugs • Lamps  Pendulum Shop (Clocks)  Luggage  Exhibition Hall  Aladdin Shop Beauty Salon • Le Soupçon

Tenth Floor
Furniture • Mattresses • Studio of Interior Design  American House  Time & Topic Shop (Antiques)  Dinettes  Decorative Accessories • Odds and End Tables  Chair Roost  Hitchcock Shop  Customer Service

Eleventh Floor
Executive Offices  Employment Office

Twelfth Floor
Executive Offices
(1,200,000 s.f.)

Forsyth Blvd. at Jackson Ave.
October, 1948
208,000 s.f.
The Wedgewood Room
Penthouse Buffet
Le Soupçon

Kingshighway at Chippewa St.
August, 1951
286,000 s.f.
The Mississippi Room
Dining Deck
Coffee Shop
W. Florissant at Lucas Hunt Rd., Jennings
August, 1955
325,000 s.f.
The Jade Room
Dining Deck
Pick-Quick Room

South County Center
Lindbergh Blvd. at Lemay Ferry Road
208,000 s.f.
The Carousel Room
The Marionette Room
Lower Level Snack Bar
Northwest Plaza
St. Ann
200,000 s.f.
The Golden Eagle
Pilot House Coffee Shop
Le Soupçon
Lower Level Snack Bar

West County Center
February 20,1969
212,000 s.f.
The Mauretania Room
Greenhouse Coffee Shop
Le Soupçon

Plaza Frontenac - FB Ltd.

St. Clair Square
Fairview Heights, IL
October, 1974
180,000 s.f.

White Oaks Mall
Springfield, IL
162,000 s.f.
Le Soupçon

Alton Square
Alton, Illinois
October, 1978
168,000 s.f.
The Alton Room

Coming in due course.

Employee Magazine: Store Chat


  1. It's grest to know the Clayton store on Forsyth BL is still standing. It was designed by Samuel Marx, the same Architect that designed Morton May's last 2 residences, the latter of which is still standing.

  2. I can't believe the downtown store closed. I really hate Macy's...

  3. I can't believe they closed the downtown store. I hate Macy's!

  4. The store at Plaza Frontenac actually went by the name FB Ltd

  5. Actually the Clayton store and the Northland Shopping Center store were designed by Samuel Marx's partner Noel L. Flint, the May residences were a collaborative design by both Marx and Flint, Flint was the architect and Marx helped design the furniture.

  6. THANK YOU for posting these beautiful memoirs of the American Department Stores...I worked for Famous Barr between 1982 -1985 and will always consider it the best working experience. This store was a "pearl" and I thought well equipped to prosper...But then came Macy's...

  7. Thank you so much for this! I worked in the credit department of the downtown store in the mid-1990's. It was a wonderful time and a great place to work! Thanks again for taking me back. :)

  8. We went to the Christmas display every year in downtown St. Louis. It was one of the highlights of the Christmas season. FB went all out on their Santa Land and the sidewalk windows. There is nothing like it today and that is so sad.

    Part of the experience was parking in the structure next door and walking over the covered sky bridge. To enter the parking lot, we drove up a ramp over the 1st floor storefronts. Then, on leaving, we drove down the spiral exit ramp. Under the spiral was Jost pipe shop. At the bottom of the spiral was a long line to pay the parking fee. We were usually stuck on an unusual angle in the car going down the steep hill.

    The store had wooden escalators into the 70s. I remember on one, the escalator started flat out on the floor and then turned into steps when it started ascending.

  9. I did not like some of Famous Barr's policies. First, when there were 2 daily newspapers in St. Louis they only adveriesed with the Post-Dispatch. Second, they were pushing fro retail outlets to be open on Sundays.

    1. Of course they were. They're a retail outlet, and people wanted to shop on Sundays.

  10. Hello BAK and the others who have posted comments, very interesting! I have just signed on with The History Press to write the book, "Famous-Barr, The St. Louis Department Store." It's a fun project with lots of research to be done, the book is scheduled to be out in print by Holiday 2014. BAK I am listing your blog in the Bibliography, do you want me to list your name as BAK or another name? Thank you!

  11. Actually, BAK stands for Bruce Allen Kopytek, as on my books. Best of luck with your book. I have logos and a makeshift store directory (not sure it is too correct) that I pieced together almost 40 years ago. You may contact me at bakgraphics@comcast.net if you have any questions.or if I can be of any other help.
    - Bruce

  12. Famous-Barr also opened a store in West Park Mall in Cape Girardeau in March, 1981.


  13. No one mentioned the Onion Soup? I remember Northland's Hot Pretzel stand, originally at the base of the UP escalator on the bottom floor. It had a carousel that trays of pretzels went around to bake after being dipped in the solution that makes them that lovely shade of brown. For 15 cents (16 cents, with tax) you could get a pretzel so fresh and hot it would burn the bejesus out of your mouth. Then you could cool your mouth with a nice soda, Don't remember the soda price, but I know you could get them both with 50 cents and get change back.

  14. Don't see the Crestwood Plaza store listed...

  15. Let's not forget the famous barr in carbondale illinois at university mall.

  16. I worked at F.B. as well as shopped there . I Remember when the downtown store was just as described. I rembember the eagle stamps , the elevator operators , the toys on the eight floor , the bargin basement and the employees's cafeteria on the twelve th floor . Boy those were the days.

  17. thanks so much for putting this on line. I worked at famous from 1965 to 1998 with a few times out for traveling with my soldier husband. I lastly worked as the import co ordinator. and due to illness I was gone by the time it all fell apart. I didn't always like my job, but I loved the people , or at least the majority of them that I worked with.. have many pleasant memories of the experience.. d hendricks

  18. I worked at Famous downtown I just graduated high school I worked in the mail department on the 8th floor then the accounts payable dept. on the 11th floor which moved to the 9th floor I worked between 1965 to 1981 I worked with D. Hendricks. the 9th floor had an amazing Santa land display it was so magical, the Onion soup was the best and can't forget the John White burger. I like the area better before the mall came we would walk and look at the many stores sidewalk sales and the bargain basement at Famous I bought all my records there and my first couch there in the 70s it was called a play pit now its called a sectional. Had a lot of fun on payday we would go to lunch. it was like family until 1981. later it became Macy's all the individual attention you got at Famous was gone the mall didn't stay in fact all of downtown was different I also remember the block parties in the evening with music and St. Pat's day this was also before the mall it was the place to be to bad it had to end
    M. Polston

  19. Bruce for you or anyone who wants to post or know more about Famous-Barr I have a Famous-Barr group page on facebook, where we have been adding photos and information. The photos on the group page are more about the promotions, events and employees at Famous-Barr. Thanks!

  20. I can remember going at christmas time to see santa, but most of all the windows . I enjoyed te train window the best. Does anyone remember the taent contest they had in 1966,and 1967. called search 66, and search 67.

  21. Edward Katz, Boynton Beach, Florida01 August, 2014 10:11

    I remember as a young child my mother would take me with her "DOWNTOWN" in a service car for 10 cents. When we arrived at FB, she would drop me off upstairs at the kids playroom, while she shopped. Later the same afternoon we would go downstairs to the tunnel way and have lunch. Lunch was always followed with a piece of very light and fluffy cheese cake. The Christmas windows were the greatest too.
    Boy, those were the days!

  22. If your store directory is the Downtown store, it is not totally correct. The 12th floor was the employees cafeteria, drapery workroom, and a few support offices. The 13th floor was never a sales floor. It housed the phone order room, the operators, and support offices, some of the May Department Store offices. The auditorium was on the 9th floor, as was carpeting, luggage, and the (huge) beauty salon. I know some departments relocated over the years and scaled down. Guess it really depends on the era. Also, you are missing a photo of the Crestwood store, which actually started as a Scruggs, Vandervort and Barney store. Nice site though.

  23. For Jim McMullan's post: I am thinking the "wooden" escalators you referred to the were originals from the main floor, 6th & Olive corner, to the 3rd floor. (At one time, many decades ago they went up higher. But those were eventually removed. I think Otis Company has one on display somewhere.) These escalators ran on DC power, were very reliable and hardly broke down. Toward the 7th Street end were the newer stainless steel escalators...I'm thinking Westinghouse. These ran to the 5th floor. Up to 6 and 7 were older escalators, with wood sidewalls, but metal step plates. These ran on AC power. Then on up to 8, 9 and 10 were newer escalators. There were still 3 of the old hand operated elevators behind the scenes, which went up to the 11th floor. These were used by support staff...electricians, carpenters, and such. Up into the '70s, these were used by the employees during the Christmas season to free up space on the store elevators for customers. There were 3 or 4 of the retired elevator operators who worked that 5 or 6 week season each year. Thanks for jogging memories Jim. Good stuff.

  24. On the Famous-Barr store designs; The Clayton, Southtown and Northland stores were designed on a "core concept". This translates as; at Clayton you recall the sales floors had very high ceilings, as did Southtown and Northland. The sales floors were the core (center) of the building. Surrounding the inside on the perimeter walls were additional floors, somewhat like mezzanines. These were support offices, stock rooms, and so on. They were not visible to the customers from the sales floors. Many people did not know they existed. The concept was reversed at Southtown. The core (center) had 6 floors (support, stock, freight elevator, etc) while surrounding the core were the three selling floors, not counting the basement. While Clayton and Southtown had curved facades, Northland was a square building, with the center being the sales floors, and the additional floors on the perimeters, again not visible or known to the public. Just a little trivia.

  25. But very interesting trivia indeed!
    - Bruce

  26. Thanks I loved reading all the interesting stories about working at Famous Barr. I worked there in the early 70's right out of High School in the billing office on the 8th fl. The most beautiful Christmas Display was set up on the 9th floor. They store brought over a large white bear from Russia and other animals, all set up around Santa. Does anyone know what year this was. Thanks for your sight.

    1. Shelley Wanko/Spiro17 December, 2016 22:40

      I also worked right out of high school in the billing office under Bud Skinner, he was so kind. I worked there in 1970,1971,1972,1973 and left in spring of 1974. Some of this time I left but came back. I was there the year they had the Russian Bears on the 9th fl.I would also like to know the year. This had to be the best display in the history of Famous Barr's Christmas displays. My cousin was a carpenter for famous at the time and worked many hours on this display. I will need to check this out with him. Nice hearing from you. Wish I had some pictures from this display. My name was Shelley Wanko at the time. You may not remember me I worked on the mail machine with Sharon Hantak.Then I worked in profit and loss,same floor. I'm so happy I got to experience this as a young person.

  27. As a small boy when my mother would shop in the 1940's, she would take me to the toy department and nearby there was a child care room where I would be left so she could shop. I don't remember complaining. When I was about 12, I went for a special signing of a baseball viewer and Enos Slaughter signed the box it was in. I think his film strip was on hitting. This was about 1951. I am now 77 but remember the old store in St. Louis with fondness though childhood memories are not always accurate. Richard Murian

  28. Remember the candy "factory" somewhere upstairs...employees only.....and the.vacuum message system? The "play room" had a large "Old Woman Who Lived in s Shoe" slide. Can hardly wait to get a copy of the book.

  29. To whomever wrote this post, "Actually the Clayton store and the Northland Shopping Center store were designed by Samuel Marx's partner Noel L. Flint, the May residences were a collaborative design by both Marx and Flint, Flint was the architect and Marx helped design the furniture".
    I want to thank you for giving credit that has been long over due to my grandfather Noel L. Flint for his overlooked contribution to the architecture and furniture designs of Marx, Flint and Schonne. In his memory and on behalf of my family, Thank You!

  30. Do you have the Clayton store restaurant menu. I ate lunch there in the seventies. I loved their omlets. Thru served them with the different sauces. I wish I knew what thru where.

  31. My husband grew up in Illinois early in his life. He still holds wonderful memories of the downtown store and the family memories of their journey's there. I grew up in Dallas, and think I understand as we had several similar stores there that have sadly all gone now. I am glad to have heard all your memories. LSH

  32. Famous-Barr...my all time favorite department store!
    I went weekly for the Onion Soup and Dawn Candy.
    Would love to find the candy company that supplied the Dawn's to them! Believe it was in Kansas or western Missouri. Anyone know???

  33. I have a 1940s Fifth Million Reprint
    Baby's Outfit a book for Mothers by G.F. Earnshaw

  34. I loved Famous-Barr when I lived in St. Louis. I remember we didn't have much money and we started out buying on the basement level and as our finances improved gradually started moving up a floor when shopping. I loved all the departments especially the antique jewelry even though I didn't have the money to buy much there.

  35. Does anyone remember the paper Christmas Angels with faces drawn on by disabled children? They sold for about 50 cents and the profit went back to the children's home. At least that is what I remember my grandma telling us, and we always had dozens each year decorating her house.

  36. Hello, everyone! My name is Ann and I am a graduate student in History at SIUE. I am developing a paper for a class I am taking on the various aspects of St. Louis commerce from the mid 19th through the present era. As I worked in the 1990's at the downtown location in credit/collections and then moved to Earth City when that administrative complex came about I have a special fondness for FB. If anyone would be interested in being a part of an oral history section for this paper, I would love to hear from you. For those of you who have information on the conception, implementation and on going operations of FB from its inception to its closure, I would love to speak with you, if you are amenable. Please feel free to contact me at asheppa@siue.edu. Thanks!!!

  37. Does anyone remember the "cigar / tobacco" shop in the downtown department store? I think there was a long-time employee named Frank that worked there? I ran into him later in his shop named Briar Haven in Bellerive Plaza in Creve Coeur, MO in the 1980-1990s?

  38. The last time I was at a Famous-Barr store was when South County Center was Westfield Shoppingtown South County.

  39. I remember the Clayton store well. From 1966 to 1971 it was my mom's favorite place to shop. I can still remember the delicious smell of the hot pretzels and going with my mom to the hair salon near the back of the store with the old stations where ladies would sit lined up in huge chairs with enormous helmet-like contraptions over their heads.

  40. I read somewhere May had acquired The Famous Clothing chain in 1892 which was 23 years before moving the headquarters to St. Louis, MO.

    1. I will be putting up a history essay that will explain all of that and how a number of stores (Wm. Barr & co., Famous Clothing, and others became the headquarters of the May co.

    2. I look forward to reading it.

  41. I still miss the colorful Christmas Windows and Toyland display in the downtown location -- and those disappeared long before the store itself

    1. I was a production artist for the Display Dept. 1963-1995
      I worked first for Gene Lacy who was the Display Director at the time and then for Sam Clark. Sam was the vision behind the 26 display windows, the Exhibition Hall, and all visual merchandising in all stores.
      Sam was the mastermind behind it all. He took me under his wing when I was just starting out and I worked for him for over 30 years. We became good friends. There were 26 people in the display department and we worked side by side with our own union carpenter shop and bank of union electricians.
      Boy was that a treat, especially during Christmas. We could put the lights on and decorate the trees, do all the work, but they had to come down and plug them in !!!

      I would be happy to chat with anyone in that might be interested. You can contact me through Facebook.
      Frank Neal

    2. Hello Frank,

      Would you know a Richard Frisch that also worked for the Display Department at FB? His wife Dorthy, my grandmother also worked there at the downtown location.
      R. Frisch

  42. My mom would take us every year to see Santa. One year in around 1967 or 68 (maybe a little earlier) we were in line all night and never saw Santa. I was reminiscing a few years back (before my mother passed away) and said all I could remember was we never saw Santa and we had to go out the employee entrance along a side street. My mom said that some group was protesting that Famous did not have any minorities representing Santa and they chained themselves inside the display. Security would not let anyone leave so we were stuck there until the store closed. The protestors were charged with trespassing. Knowing that I would love to find out the rest of the story.

  43. I recall a pedestrian tunnel from the basement restaurant (I still have a paper placement from Famous Down Under!) that emerged across the street on the northwest side. The door there was just plain glass, and I don't recall if it was marked or not. It existed in the early 70s at least, which was when I explored that store from top to bottom on Saturdays as a teenager.

  44. 10 years ago I purchased 5 automated mice from the 1960s era Santaland display. Still in working order. I've set them up on my front window each year since reliving the wonderful memories of the many Christmas trips downtown.

  45. I worked at Famous_Barr from 1982-1985 and loved it there! I also watched Cardinals World series parade from one of the top windows facing Olive Blvd.
    I loved working there-- and truly FB was shopping at its best experience! So grateful for this warm, nostalgic memory!

  46. Worked FB from 71-74 in the Employees cafeteria on 12th floor Downtown. Best food from scratch ever and employees received a very nice discount. Entree was .30$ lol Everyone complained they were grouchy from work. lol Loved it. Learned a lot about cooking from the staff. Most were near retirement or meant to retire from there. Good memories

  47. I am a current Wash U employee and I work at our West Campus (Clayton Famous Barr) frequently. You might be happy to know that it is currently home to not only the Olin Library archives but also a large chunk of Wash U IT personnel. One of the main university computing data centers is on the 4th floor. It is also home to the Alumni and Development office and our HR training facility. I miss going to the FB as a kid back in the early 90s. Happy to see this gorgeous building being reused instead of torn down.

  48. Can anyone tell me the name and maker of the Christmas china that Famous Barr carried with holly on the rim? It looked very similar to Lenox's pattern.

  49. No. It was a brand that they only carried.

  50. Is the book out? If so where can ki get it?

  51. Hello, I'm a former editor of Famous-Barr's house publications Store Chat and Store Chatter. That was my first job, and I loved working at Famous-Barr! Does anyone remember the name of the director of human resources at the downtown Famous-Barr store or his assistant (Norma maybe?) around 1971? Thanks for that information.

  52. As a young boy my dad would drive my mom and me to Northland shopping center (how many of you remember only having one car in the family? Very common back in the 50's, 60's and 1970's) We lived in Florissant and that was the closest Famous-Barr. I'll never forget Christmas shopping with mom, walk through the front doors (West Florissant entrance.) and to the right was the toy dept. They had a big display window with a very big model train display every Christmas. Oh how I loved that as a little boy! My parents bought my very first "stereo" for me at Famous-Barr. I must have been about 14 years old. I can still remember dad banging on my bedroom door yelling, TURN THAT DOWN!
    As the decades slip-by it becomes more and more difficult to hang-on to the great memories I had shopping with mom at Famous-Barr. Hopefully they will never go away...

  53. Also, Famous had a store in Evansville, Indiana for a brief period in the 90s. I worked for both Famous (Alton store) and transferred to LS Ayres (Castleton), but always found it interesting that May Co. went with Famous in Evansville instead of Ayres.

  54. There was also a branch that opened in Cape Girardeau, MO. after Alton and Springfield.


  56. I worked in the Clayton Famous Barr my last two years in high school, mostly in the children's department, but occasionally floating around the store. I loved working there and might add I never came into contact with a cross customer during those two years. It was also excellent training for my future retail jobs I held while attending the University of Missouri in Columbia.

  57. I bought some old spoons in a second hand store in NY about 30 years ago.I have pulled them out of the cupboard wondering what to do with them. They are pens with gorgeous filigree on the ends. One is stamped Famous and Barr on the back,so I looked it up on internet. I think it might make a very nice pin.

  58. I opened the Mid Rivers Mall store in 1981. It started as a store without a mall, surrounded by empty fields. We used to refer to it as the "best little store on the prairie!" The mall was eventually built out to 4 anchors. Later, the building was significantly enlarged.


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