Wednesday, January 26, 2022

What was St. Louis’ Ice Palace?

St. Louisans have gathered at the Ice Palace for a few wonderful years to enjoy amateur hockey races and tricks, as well as fancy skating.

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported that our “first ice castle”–St. Louis’ first indoor ice skating rink, located near the Grand Center, was inaugurated by Louis Globe-Democrat. It boasts “a frozen surface that neither weather prophets, moths, the rust or the thaw may corrupt.” The ice is still there and will remain there even if there are blizzards or prolonged days with more solstice heat.

Opening ceremonies were modest. There was a race between John Sandblom, Swedish skating champion, and Ed Woods, American skater, plus a demonstration by Jack Crooks (St. Louis Browns second baseman), of superfast backward-skating, alongside E.C. Gilmore, “the boy wonder from Minneapolis.”

However, it was not a small venue. The St. The St. They did. London’s Glaciarium was the first artificial rink in the world. But indoor rinks had not been invented for 20 years. St. Louis boasted an indoor rink that spanned 20,000 feet. It featured a balcony wrapped rink where spectators could see dashing curlers chasing a puck and their fellow citizens falling on their stomachs.

St. Louisans have gathered at the Ice Palace for many glorious years to enjoy amateur hockey races, games, trick and fancy skating. Most importantly, St. Louisans loved being on the ice. Socialites hosted costume balls on skates. There were also amateur speed skaters competing, who whizzed around the rink’s perimeter. There were also those who simply wanted to have a good time during open skating.

The Ice Palace was as fragile and fleeting, as real ice. It was given to Charles “Hardluck”, a boxing promoter, in 1903. He moved his club there. Although it was called the Auditorium Ice Rink briefly, it was soon overshadowed by the Winter Garden at DeBaliviere & Kingsbury. It was built during the World’s Fair. The Palace was demolished in 1963 to make way to a mall. Steinberg Skating Rink opened just a few years before. This rink was not only bigger than any other in the Midwest, but it also reminded us of how ice in its natural habitat is cooler.

The Other Ice Palace

The first public establishment to have air-conditioning was The Ice Palace, a restaurant and beer hall at Third and Market in 1891. A newspaper advertisement in the Globe-Democrat referred to it as “the only place where summer can be turned into winter for thirty minutes by the artificial process.” It was especially popular during the St. Louis summer. It was renamed the Ice Palace Saloon a few years later. the Post reported that there was a “small riot” at the Ice Palace Saloon in 1898. It started with a gun-toting bar fight, which led to a police raid. Around the opening of the Ice Palace rink, the establishment disappeared from newspaper accounts.

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