History “Inn” the Making
The history of The Cheshire is a colorful one, intimately connected to the fabric of St. Louis. Our timbered walls house decades of special memories. As the hotel embarks on a new chapter, it’s fun to take a look back at its unique past…
To some more “seasoned” St. Louisans, The Cheshire Inn may still be remembered as the “old Medart place.” More than 80 years ago, a dashing young member of a well-to-do local family, Bill Medart, opened a luncheonette in a log cabin on the site (part of the cabin survives to this day). Along with his wife, Blossom, said to have been a former silent-film actress, Medart built a thriving business around the casual hamburger stand known as Medart’s Olde Cheshire.
As the business prospered, the Medarts became great travelers, providing much grist for local society pages – their daughter even married the Earl of Coventry. Tragically, Bill Medart fell from his Paris hotel window in 1951, and with his death, the restaurant began to decline.
In 1960, a man from another local family, Stephen J. Apted, bought the building and remodeled the restaurant into The Cheshire Inn, complete with authentic British art, antiques, furnishings and details. Hailing from a family of restaurateurs, Mr. Apted’s mother, Mrs. Florence Hulling, had started a comfortable cafeteria-style restaurant in the 1940′s called Miss Hulling’s which quickly grew and became a tradition in St. Louis. Apted transformed The Cheshire Inn into one of the most popular and successful restaurants in St. Louis. A story in the St. Louis Globe Democrat on October 28, 1961 called it “the most unusual and inviting atmosphere in town.”
Apted’s vision, though, was for something much larger. Legend has it that the entire Cheshire complex came from an idea developed when the Apteds visited an old tavern nestled in the back streets of London named Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Inspired, he chose to recreate the concept at the corner of Clayton Road and Skinker Boulevard for its proximity to Forest Park and easy highway access, a location that remains one of the property’s best attributes.
Four years after opening the new restaurant, Mr. Apted built The Cheshire Lodge and furnished it with antiques and collections from his world travels. British details were everywhere, from the long riding coats of the houseman to the English accents in the guestrooms. The glass enclosed, year-round pool/conservatory was the first of its kind in the city. The Cheshire’s horse-drawn carriage rides and double-decker bus became fixtures along the St. Louis streets. In the 1980’s the popular Fantasy Suites, including everything from the Safari Rainforest to the Treehouse at Sherwood Forest, were added to the experience. In its heyday, The Cheshire Inn & Lodge was the most popular restaurant and hotel in St. Louis.
In December 2010, the property was purchased by St. Louis-based Lodging Hospitality Management with the vision of restoring it to its former glory and updating it for today’s discriminating travelers. Over a period of seven months, the hotel underwent a multi-million dollar renovation reopening in August 2011. The result is stunning! In the fall of 2012, the historic restaurant building will re-open as well. The “new” Cheshire celebrates the great history of the hotel, preserving its charm and character while transforming it into a modern, luxury boutique hotel.
We welcome you to The Cheshire and invite you to create your own memory here!