December 2005 Featured Item

 S.S. Admiral Architectural Model

A Ship of Beauty...


And Glamour

The Admiral

The featured item is a 1984 Architectural Model of the S. S. Admiral.    This twenty foot, all aluminum model, was constructed to give a visual representation to the creative teams commissioned to develop a new attraction aboard the decommissioned vessel. The model was prominently on display at the offices of  HOK, St. Louis, Missouri.

The following is a brief history of the full size vessel. Originally built as the Albatross in 1907, a steam boat railroad ferry, that hauled trains between Illinois and St. Louis via the Vicksburg Route (Click here to see an image of the original ship).

The first rebuilding of this transfer barge in 1938 by Streckfus Steamers, Inc. was dubbed the "Mystery Steamer”. It represented a marked departure from the conventional steamboat design of gingerbread woodwork, towering smokestacks and the adoption of a streamline design. She was the largest excursion vessel ever built in America and the first to be air-conditioned as well. The vessel is 374 feet long; longer than an average city block and 90 feet wide.  The steel haul is divided into 74 watertight compartments.  These watertight compartments allowed the ship to stay afloat even if 11 of them have flooded. 

 This floating showplace was eventually named the S. S. Admiral. The Admiral was built for families to enjoy daylong trips on the Mississippi River which departed at 10:00 am and returned at 4:00pm.  Evening cruises for young adults set sail at 9:00pm and concluded at midnight.  The Admiral operated June through September from the foot of Washington Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Admiral offered many fun things to do including, shows, dancing, restaurants, snack bars, and arcade games all on five spacious decks.  Eventually the Admiral was no longer safe to navigate the Father of Waters and was shuttered.

On July 18, 1984, the S. S. Admiral Partners commissioned the architectural firm Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum along with the conceptual design team of Gary Goddard Productions to develop an adaptive reuse for the Admiral (click here to see the marketing proposals for this new complex). This opportunity lead to the building of the 20 foot model. The final design incorporates a permanently moored, 160,000 square foot floating entrainment complex offering an array of entertainment, dining and retail shops.  However, this new venue was short lived.

    Today the S. S. Admiral is home to the President Casino, permanently moored on the St. Louis Riverfront at Laclede's Landing in Downtown St. Louis next to the Eads Bridge.

Trivia: Do you remember the names of the two pitman arms that transferred power from the engines to the paddle wheels? They were located on the main deck and visible from the Amusement Midway. The first five responses with the correct answer will win an Antique Warehouse sweatshirt. Please state your shirt size along with your reply (click here to respond with your answer).

Below are a architectural renderings and an image of the Admiral.  If you click on any of these images you will be taken to the index page, where you can view additional images.

Admiral Images

Admiral picture Admiral


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Air Conditioned...

And Superlatively Modern

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