There are a lot of great stories that come from a good bar. And it stands to reason that the older a bar is, the more stories it has — stories that come from the patrons who frequent it and from the bartenders who serve them. It becomes a storytelling nation of sorts. At some point, people don't even remember what happened. They just remember the stories they've told about it.
The 34 Club, located at 34 North Euclid Avenue in the Central West End, has been in operation since 1941, passing hands from owner to owner for the better half of a century. To put that into perspective, in the year the bar opened, Duke Ellington recorded "Take the A Train," the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and Stan Musial made his debut with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Seventy-five years isn't a long time for a church to be standing, but it's a hell of a record for your local tavern. The 34 Club wears its years with pride. "We could tell you some good stories," says current owner Tom Bergman, "but you know, we'd have to change the names to protect the innocent." It's one of the oldest, continually operating drinking establishments in St. Louis city — and should probably be registered by the Landmarks Association of St. Louis.
But as we are reminded so often in this country, memories and history count for shit. Though the wheels of progress turn slowly in St. Louis, we are still more apt to start over and bulldoze antiquity rather than let it age gracefully, much less venerate it.
In August, the Koman Group announced it had purchased the 31st block of Euclid Avenue, with plans to renovate the entire space by leveling the current structure and building a high-rise condo.
On December 31, the 34 Club will pour its last drink.