Landing Building - 1900
720 N 3rd Street
Winter time at the landing
In cold weather months, industrious saloonkeepers of the early 1900s were known to skirt Missouri’s “blue laws” by selling booze from the middle of a frozen Mississippi River - even on Sundays - and thus outside the reach of the law. This dubious enterprise most likely included previous saloonkeepers of the Landing Building located at 720 N 3rd Street.
This three story brick building, with iron ground floor supports served as a saloon for over 130 years, and is best known as Café Louie. Owner Jimmy Massucci, a creative entrepreneur and local antique dealer, was considered the unofficial mayor of Gaslight Square back in the 1960's. He then created the Golden Eagle Saloon, the Vanity Fair, and the Cellar Door along Olive Street in Gaslight Square. His dream was for Laclede’s Landing to become an even bigger and better entertainment district than Gaslight Square.
Massucci maintained that almost anything could be converted into something decorative with a little imagination: “My whole needle is to find something discarded, take it out and place it in fine homes and restaurants.” Many admirers of his works dubbed him an environmental engineer. Mr. Massucci has been credited with naming this nine block area left over from the Victorian Era, Laclede's Landing.
There is a cave beneath the building that has been reputed to have been a safe room as part of the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves while seeking freedom across the Mississippi River. There was a frigid spot in the cellar cave that continued to peek Massucci's curiosity. At various times he called experts to investigate the source and fix it, but the problem could never be solved. Some believe it to be haunted. This building is not without its ghosts. Rumor has it that even before Café Louie, there was a brothel on the upper floors above the bar. One night one of the ladies, was found dead. It's been said that her ghost comes up behind visitors and brushes her hand against the back of their neck leaving hair standing on end.