Colonel E. M. Statler has successfully conducted restaurants at the Buffalo Exposition, he built and operated Statler's Pan-American hotel. But this hotel, as well as other fair hotels, whether at Philadelphia, Chicago, or Buffalo, were outside of the fair grounds, and, in many cases, a considerable distance from the gates. Statler conceived the original idea of a great hotel inside the Fair grounds, whose very location would obviate many difficulties and tribulations which attend going to and from a fair in hot weather.
The Inside Inn was the only hotel located on the 1904 World's fairgrounds. Located at the east end of the Fair grounds, the Inside Inn commanded a beautiful view, near the imposing Plateau of States and partially shaded by oak trees. To the right and left stretched the impressive avenues of State buildings, beginning with Indiana on the left and Utah on the right. Through the trees may be seen the dome of the Pennsylvania Building.
Built of yellow pine, stucco and fire-proof burlap, the ten acres of the Inside Inn was situated at the southeast corner of the Fair; a temporary building, it 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, a lounge, haberdashery, shoe shine parlor, newsstand and a barbershop.
One could stay at The Inside Inn on the international plan for 1.50 to 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.
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.
The St. Louis Fair Officials fixed the accomodations and food prices. Breakfast and lunch were 50 cents, while dinner was 75. There was an a la carte menu. (see menu below right)
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.