Lost Tables | The story of Busch’s Grove

Busch’s Grove

By Harley Hammerman, MD

Ever wondered what happened to that restaurant you once loved and have memories of dining at with your family and friends? We did! There is an amazing website called Lost Tables, dedicated to celebrating the restaurants of our past. We are partnering with the site’s creator Harley Hammerman and celebrating these wonderful stories. Hammerman and his wife Marlene are members of Shaare Emeth, and she is past president of the National Council of Jewish Women of St. Louis.   Visit Lost Tables on Facebook 

Remembering Busch’s Grove

Busch’s Grove was an unpretentious white frame roadhouse on Clayton Road at Price, in the city of Ladue. For years the name epitomized genteel, gracious dining in St. Louis. But the multicentury, multigenerational story that is Busch’s Grove is as much about the building that housed the restaurant as it is about the restaurant itself.

Records show that John Philip Litzinger purchased the land on the south side of Clayton, just west of Price, from James S. Forsyth in 1855 for $1,000. Litzinger sold the property to John T. Harding in 1869 for $6,000. This increase in value suggests that Litzinger built the original frame structure on the property, which may have served as his blacksmith shop and a stagecoach stop.

Charles Robyn purchased the property in 1873 from John T. Harding for $4,500, using it as a roadhouse and public garden. The establishment was known as Woodland Grove and housed the Price Post Office, with Robyn appointed postmaster in 1889.

In March of 1891, Robyn sold the property to George Buente for $8,000. Buente, a wholesale grocer who owned real estate throughout the area, leased the property to John Busch.

Busch’s Grove

John H. Busch was married on May 7, 1869 in Amsterdam, at age 23. On that day, he and his wife Mary Elizabeth started out for American and St. Louis.

When Busch took over Woodlawn Grove in 1891, it was a combination restaurant, roadhouse, hostelry and resort. It still housed the Price Post Office; Busch was appointed postmaster in July of 1891.

It took a few years for Woodlawn Grove to become Busch’s Grove. The name was used interchangeably by the press.

Early on, screened log cabins were built on the acreage behind Busch’s Grove. Initially they may have been used as rooms for Busch’s roadhouse.

In time, the screened cabins were used for summer dining. A horse-and-buggy ride away from the city, they were the place to go to escape the heat. With the advent of air-conditioning, many were dismantled in the 1950s and 1960s. But they were rebuilt in the 1980s as a place to escape air conditioning.

Set among tall shade trees and beds of geraniums and impatiens, the cabins were furnished with folding chairs and tables, and covered with white cloths and napkins. Overhead fans provided a breeze. At night, iron lanterns illuminated the paths that separated the 20 cabins, which were designed to hold from two to 70 people.

Click here to read more about the history of Busch’s Grove on LostTables.com