Square One Brewery and Distillery is packed with St. Louis history

Square One Brewery and Distillery is a unique Lafayette Square destination for home-brewed beer and spirits. It also has one major thing in common with St. Louis’s not-so-hidden gem, City Museum.

By Denton Williams

(St. Louis, MO) When you walk into Square One Brewery and Distillery you are immediately greeted by the smell of grilled food and the sound of conversation. To the left you see the first dining area and to the right there’s a long bar with an intricate wood design framing a large window. Throughout this area there are also dark brown carved wood columns.


You wouldn’t know by looking at them, but the columns and wood frame are a glimpse into local history.

Bob Cassilly, the creator of City Museum and a famous St. Louis architect, was the previous owner of Square One’s building. He had a habit of rescuing unique pieces from condemned buildings and restoring them to their previous grandeur. His work now accents Square One, which has been open for 12 years.

Dr. John Witte has been with Square One from the beginning. He says its history is one of the things that makes Square One unique.

“When you walk through Square One, literally, it’s a history of different areas in St. Louis. It’s Bob Cassilly doing what he did great.” Witte said, referring to Cassilly’s habit of restoring unique pieces of architecture.

Cassilly managed to rescue numerous relics that are prominently featured at Square One. The wood columns guests are greeted with were saved from a to-be-demolished church. The fountain and concrete doorways outside were saved from a house being demolished to make room for the interstate in the 60s. There’s also a skylight in the back that was taken from the Alexian Brothers Hospital where the infamous exorcism that inspired the film The Excorcist took place.


Customers don’t typically realize the history of the space they’re coming to eat and drink at. Some, however, become transfixed by the detailing of the frame behind the bar or in the outside dining area and are compelled to ask.

One of these customers was Jennifer Danner, who discovered Square One while doing aBrewery Tour.

“I was doing a brewery tour a couple years ago and going to places that are only available in St. Louis,” Danner said, “I fell in love with the fountain outside and thought it was so cool to find out where it came from.”

Danner makes a habit of coming back to Square One once or twice a year and bringing friends that she can share it with.

“I feel like I’m giving a tour of a museum when I come back in.” Danner said. “The people I bring with me are always really excited to take a picture with the fountain and sit at the bar for a while to ask questions to the bartenders.”

According to Witte there have been hundreds of customers over its time in Lafayette Square similar to Danner.

“These ‘brewourists’ come in from all over to try beer they can’t get anywhere else. Then they hear about and fall in love with story of this place.” Witte said.

Square One Brewery and Distillery is located in Lafayette Square at 1727 Park Ave in St. Louis, MO.


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