One of St. Joseph’s most recognizable and revered historic structures is headed for the auction block next week.
Frederick Towers, 2400 Frederick Ave., will be available for online bidding only Monday, Sept. 9, through 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11. Williams & Williams Auction Co., Tulsa, Oklahoma, is offering the property for sale and will compile the bids.
Cindy Dees, sales and marketing director for Williams & Williams, said self-guided tours will be offered to the public from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6.
“I think it’s a gorgeous older building,” Dees said. “We’ve had some good interest in it.”
Construction was finished in 1915, with the six-story structure launching its life as the Noyes Hospital in 1916. It became the Missouri Methodist Hospital Nurses Home in 1953, and was acquired by the animal pharmaceuticals firm Anchor Serum in 1955. That company was in turn acquired by another animal pharmaceuticals firm, Philips Roxane, in 1959. The building became open for commercial use in 1968, with investment firm Edward Jones becoming the first tenant that spring.
Chris Jones, financial adviser for Edward Jones, came on board in 1980 and stayed for almost the entire decade, after his family established themselves there over the previous 12 years. Edward Jones maintained its presence until moving operations to St. Maartens Drive in 2015.
“My dad knew the owner at the time,” Jones said of the inception.
The building possessed a major advantage during the 20th century, according to Jones.
“Downtown was changing demographically,” he said. “I think Frederick Towers was a unique location” between Downtown and the Belt Highway, he added. “It (accessibility) was very simple.”
The investment office’s customers would typically stop by with clippings of Edward Jones ads that appeared in the St. Joseph News-Press, as a way of asking for financial advice. The only problem those clients encountered, he continued, were the slick surface of the parking lot during winter.
But the structure itself had other impressive and important qualities, such as a well-deserved designation as a nuclear fallout shelter.
“It was very well built,” Jones said. “That building was built to last.”
In those days, a barbecue restaurant in the basement helped serve hungry lunchtime crowds. The roof was a great venue to observe the breadth of the city and activity in the skies above, such as air shows originating from Rosecrans Memorial Airport.
“One time, the attorneys had the entire fifth floor,” he said, explaining the lawyers would allow crowds to watch the flights from up high.
Jones said he retains a strong interest in Frederick Towers’ ultimate well-being due to the family’s prior link with its history. One potential use, he said, could be in the form of rental apartments.