St. Louis leaders, knew that one of the
reasons St. Louis was denied hosting the
1893 Columbian Exposition was because
the city's lack of hotel rooms.
The Fair's committee made sure that there
would be plenty of accommodations for the
fairgoers at the Louisiana Exposition.
E. M. Statler, a Buffalo restaurateur made plans for building the Inside Inn, the only hotel located on the fairgrounds.
Built of yellow pine, stucco and fire-proof burlap, the Inside Inn, situated at the southeast corner of the Fair, was a temporary building that could accommodate 5500 persons and up to 5,000 guests with its 2257 rooms. It also sported a staff of 2,000, two restaurants, a drug store, haberdashery, shoe shine parlor, newsstand and a barbershop.
(Statler was scalded from an exploding coffee pot, that killed a boy and seriously left E. M. battling for his life. He later returned to the Fair 5 months later.
If one could not afford the price of most St. Louis area hotels, for 50 cents a day, visitors could stay at Camp Lewis. The complex was a 85-acre campground created by magazine publisher Edward Gardner Lewis; it could accommodate 4,000 people.
Situated west of the St. Louis city limits, campers stayed in tent-cabins with wood floors, iron beds and electric lights. Public showers and baths, reading equipment and smoking areas were nearby. Guests had direct access to the Fair via horse-drawn omnibuses; they could also enjoy nightly campfires and musical entertainment. Lunches cost 25 cents, while dinners were 50 cents. Alcohol was barred from the camp.
Prior to the Fair opening, Lewis built a five-story octagonal building in University City moving his Woman's magazine operation there.
On the Fair's opening night, Lewis shone a gigantic searchlight from the top of his building. It was said that the light was seen as far as Kansas City. Click the rectangle to see Camp Lewis pictures:
The Fair dramatically increased the number of hotels in St. Louis. One of the most famous- the 400-room Jefferson Arms, had famous guests that included: Harry S. Truman, Mary Pickford, Arthur Rubinstein, John L. Lewis, Robert A. Taft, and Enrico Caruso. The hotel doubled its room capacity in 1927 and sold it to the Hilton Corporation in 1950. In 1955, it was re-named the Sheraton-Jefferson until turned into a the Jefferson Arms retirement community.
Before the Jefferson Arms was built, The Planter’s Hotel had been the largest in St. Louis.
The Buckingham Club at Kingshighway and Pine, the Washington Hotel and the Epworth Hotel also were built to house visitors for the Fair.
One could stay at The Innside Inn on the international plan for 1.50 - 5.50 dollars or an American plan which included two meals a day for 3 to 7 dollars a day. The inn had a buffet as well as a resturant that could seat 2,500 patrons.
After the Fair closed, Statler tallied a staggering 1,480,743.13 dollars from the Inside Inn's initial investment of 300,000 dollars. He sold the temporary building for 30,000 dollars in scrap lumber.