The Imperial Revolutionary Club under threat – NextSTL


A developer seeks approval to demolish the historic Club Imperial at West Florissant Avenue and Goodfellow. For decades, George Edick’s Club Imperial was a cultural hotspot in northern St. Louis where Ike Turner performed live every Tuesday evening in front of a crowd of dancers.

Ike & Tina Turner even recorded an album there. In an era when white agents frequently took advantage of black musicians, George Edick was an exception, opening doors to talent wherever he saw it. Ike and Tina, Chuck Berry – many musicians credit Edick for the dynamism of their career. Ike and Tina continued to play Imperial long after hitting big – the only small room they played. The Club was a center of cultural innovation in the city.

The two-story structure located at 6306-28 West Florissant is constructed of brick, stone and terracotta. Corinthian pilasters articulate the upper level. A coat of arms, an elaborate balcony and urns on the roof embellish the facade. A marquee always juts out above the sidewalk.

Vroman Industries LLC proposes to demolish Club Imperial and replace it with a shopping center.

The club was built in 1928 as a dance hall and has remained popular for half a century. Edick bought the club in 1952 when the big band was still king. Bob Hyland of KMOX aired his weekly Coast To Coast with Bob Hyland of The Imperial. Musicians as diverse as Chuck Berry, Louis Prima, Dolly Parton, Jimi Hendrix, Glen Campbell and the Monkeys have all performed at Club Imperial in North City. It was a dance hall, and a dance style – the Imperial – was named after the club. The club later became the center for swing dancing in the Saint-Louis area.

George Edick died at his home in Jennings in 2002, and the club has been used as a banquet hall with street-level businesses ever since. Edick’s obituary in the Post-Dispatch read: “Mr. Edick ran The Roaring Twenties nightclub in Gaslight Square in the 1960s, but it was at the revolutionary Club Imperial in northern St. Louis where a swing dance style was born and rock legends were launched.

The club is in a preservation review district. The developer’s demolition request is submitted to the Preservation Board at its 4 p.m. public meeting on Monday, January 22 at 1520 Market Street, Suite 2000.

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