The Castle (Cave Hall) to be Demolished?March 5, 2014 - Author: Kelly
Another building with so much St. Louis history may be demolished, soon. During the turbulent weather in February, part of the roof collapsed, making it a safety concern.
Originally constructed in 1908, it was called Cave Hall. That area of St. Louis is known to have a honey comb of caves underground. The club was open six days a week and featured dances, masquerades, private balls and live entertainment.
St. Louis went through many changes during the 1920′s. Cave Hall was closed and reopened as, “The Castle” in 1922. It was a tumultuous time, but everyone wanted to be entertained.
The Castle was famous for appearances by musical greats at that time such as Miles Davis and Duke Ellington. Cave Hall was at one time a dance academy, owned by Herman Albers and Cornelius Ahern. In one interview Albers said
“At that time there wasn’t much competition…In addition, dancing was popular…one must remember that thirty years ago public dance halls were the only places where one might dance. Hotels and roadhouses made no provision for such amusement. There were no radios nor phonographs where one might have a private orchestra in his home. It was either go to a dance hall or not dance.”
Alber’s partner passed away and at that time, he changed the name to The Castle Ballroom. St. Louis would suffer through prohibition but not long after, in 1934, Albers closed The Castle due to bankruptcy.
The Castle re-opened in 1935 under new ownership, (Jesse J. Johnson). As you can see, it was again, a news splash.
Under Johnson’s ownership, national acts were featured and guests included legendary Fats Domino, Ella Fitzgerald and Fletcher Henderson.
The Castle was known for a famous shoot out in the 1950′s. The Globe reported that there were at least thirty people present and only one witness and ended with the death of the owner.
The Castle opened again under new ownership and brought in entertainers such as Louis Armstrong and the Ink Spots in 1952.
That area of St. Louis would go through more industrialized changes and redevelopment and remained closed.
The Castle was added to the National Register of Historic Places but may face demolition anyway due to the recent storm damage. They are currently looking for someone to reach into their deep pockets and restore this ballroom to its former glory. Any takers?
I’d hate to see this place go – it’s one of those buildings that makes you wish the walls could talk.
Keep it Real!
“If I could generate enough income, I’d like to get a castle, a historic castle that I could restore.” ~Henry Thomas