Noah’s Ark

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Former Noah’s Ark Restaurant
Hwy 70 & Fifth St. Exit, St. Charles, MO
Upon hearing the news that Noah’s Ark was going to be torn down to make room for an aquatic center , pictures of the remains were required.

The place opened around 1966, and to grade-schoolers Noah’s Ark was Mecca. It had giant fiberglass animals, a killer kids menu, kiddy cocktails to match your folks drink for drink, and the waitresses passed out plenty of cheap plastic, animal-shaped doo-dads to keep the tots distracted until the macaroni and cheese arrived. I’m going on word of mouth about this because, sadly, I never went to Mecca when it was hopping (above, top). I was about the only kid I knew who was cruelly denied the thrill. I simply stared at it longingly from the car as we sped past it on the highway.
Actually, the November 2005 visit (above, bottom) was my first visit. I’m a late bloomer…

The restaurant has been closed since at least 1996, and the animals were herded away from the ark and scattered about the parking lot (above, bottom). While the place has occasionally been used as a Halloween haunted house (4th item down), it sat vacant for years. This is prime real estate, so that it remained untouched for so long is surprising. Maybe sentimentality played a part in it lingering in limbo for so long.

Still hanging at the entrance are some framed photos of the place in its heyday. Sun-faded photos feature Milton Berle as a celebrity guest, parade floats in downtown St. Louis (above, top) and many shots of the cavernous dining room cram packed with diners.

From the makeshift hanging scrapbook, glimpses of the interior show (above, top & bottom) that the leopard print chairs matched the waitresses mini-skirts, which is hubba hubba in a pre-Hooters way. Also note that they were made to wear safari pith helmets, which is way cool.

From this angle, the fading remains of Noah’s Ark looks vaguely similar to Le Corbusier’s Ronchamps

…but actually, a brick gas station pierces the hull like an iceberg (above). The Ark looks as if it crashed ashore to stock up on Twizzlers and Pepsi before the 40 days of rain really kicked in hard.

Even as the gas station invaded, and a hotel ate up the parking lot, the powers that be let most of the Ark’s remains stand undisturbed, including the too-ugly-for-words lamp post (above). There’s a curious magic to the place, and maybe the new tenants could keep the animals; elephants fit in with the aquatic theme, and kids find giraffes therapeutic, right?

26 thoughts on “Noah’s Ark

  1. I will never forget when we went to Noah’s Ark. I was in the 3rd or 4th grade. I had real surf and turf, a steak with lobster tail, and on the salad bar they had herring in sour cream sauce. Everything was delicious, and it was a thrill to go out on the top and stand by the giant Noah! This was probably around 1968.

  2. My father worked for the company that did the architectural drawings for Noah’s ArK. I still have all the original blueprints for the restaurant and some photos of it before it was opened. I thought they might come in handy if anyone ever wanted to create a duplicate some day. Wouldn’t that be cool!

  3. My recipe is a little different and I have tweaked it over the years

    Noah’s clam chowder

    1 can New England clam chowder
    1 can cream of potato sop
    1 can cream of onion soup
    1 can cream of celery soup
    1 bottle of clam juice
    1 stick butter
    Milk to make consistency your want
    1-2 cans chopped clams, rinsed

    Mix all together heat and enjoy.

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  5. I would love to know what happen to the replica of Noah. My aunt done all the sculpture work for Noah’s Ark rest. and it was sentimental to me. The way that I understand was Noah was a repllica of my great grandfather. Thanks for any help

  6. 2008-11-16 I just found out about this. I’m in Wisconsin now but my family used to enjoy staying and eating at the Ark.

    It was a thrill to find this place as it was so different and so good!

    Rick Gryder

  7. I worked there for several year on all of the Hotel’s electronics. David Flavan was a great person to work for. To this day I fondly remember JGK, Joan, Beth, Cy, and many other people I worked with.

  8. I was lucky enough to be in St.Louis two weeks before the ark came down and was able to get both of the midevil looking outdoor light sconces that were on both sides of the main door to the ark, not sure if I should restore them or leave them as they are, so many times as a kid walking in to have dinner with my folks I looked at those light and thought how neat they were.

  9. The ark is being torn down in September. The aquatic center is keeping the animals, is going to restore them, and then display them in their new building at that location. Yes, the ark is coming down, but not all of it will be lost. All of you posting your memories brings back memories for me that were long forgotten.

  10. i used to go there with my parents when i was little, and i used to have a small collection of the giraffe swizzle sticks. unfortunately, i must have lost them over the years. if anyone has one they’d be willing to part with – especially now that i no longer live in st louis – i would be most appreciative!

  11. I’ll let you know that the “secret” recipe posted is just plain wrong. I worked there for 11 years, (1968 to 1979) from diswasher to bar manager. I must have made 10,000 gallons of chowder and it was made from scratch. Started with ground salt pork, tons of butter, onions and potatos. Whole milk of course. Oh yeah, clams too. I have the actural recipe somewhere, but it makes 40 gallons of base that made 80 gallons of chowder. Those big kaiser rolls dipped in the chowder was soooo good.

  12. Found this via google for old place my family used to get best clam chowder in Missouri at 🙂 Thanks for the great pictures and memories!

  13. My family would always drive through St. Louis on our summer vacations and we would always wind up at Noah’s Ark for dinner. The taste of the clam chowder is one I still remember 30 years later. I remember that the place was always packed. The view from the roof was a treat when we had to wait a long time. Too bad it’s being torn down in the name of “progress”

  14. Where are some of the baby prehistoric type of animals? ie dinosaurs.

  15. I never got to eat there, either (I came along the year Noah’s Ark opened), but my parents often did (Mom may still have a couple of giraffe swizzle sticks), and I can tell you the “secret” (whoo boy!) recipe for the clam chowder:

    2 cans Campbell’s New England clam chowder
    1 can cream of potato soup
    1 can cream of celery soup
    1 can Milnot

    Combine; add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

  16. I feel they should incorporate the “historical” Noah’s Ark into the new area. There is no reason they cannot refurbish, at least the shell, and make it a part of the new project. Noah’s Ark has been a landmark for over 30 years and I, Personally am tired of seeing all the historic sites torn down to make room for building which rarely have any character.
    If anyone has any ideas on how to save the ark please advise by posting a comment.

  17. http://cgi.ebay.com/NOAHS-ARK-RESTAURANT-GIRAFFE-DRINK-STIRS-MINT-LOT-8_W0QQitemZ290057133784QQihZ019QQcategoryZ10905QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItem

    for anyone who loves NOAH’S ARK RESTERAUNT as much as i do, i wanted to let yall know i have around 67 girraffe stirs i am auctioning off on e bay. they will be in lots of 8 so everyone will have a oppurtunity to own a peice of the past, i remember the clam chowder but what i really remember was the HUGE block of cheese on the salad bar. soooooo good. cheers
    HERMES

  18. My name is Rodney Gardine. I had my first job as a busboy at Noah’s Ark. Worked there in ’73 and ’74 for 13 months before graduating from St. Charles High in ’74. Will never forget the experience and what a wild group of folks I worked with. Left Missouri in ’79, lived in San Francisco for four years, then moved to Hawaii, where I’ve lived ever since. I still have my nametag that I wore on my red busboy jacket. Ahhh, the memories. And I also miss the clam chowder!

  19. Thanks for sharing! I’ve been going through my Grandmother’s old picture albums and I found a picture of my step-Grandfather with the Noah’s Ark sign and elephant in the background. The photo was taken in 1971 on a trip they took from Florida to Missouri. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where that picture was taken!

  20. Thanks for sharing! I’ve been going through my Grandmother’s old picture albums and I found a picture of my step-Grandfather with the Noah’s Ark sign and elephant in the background. The photo was taken in 1971 on a trip they took from Florida to Missouri. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where that picture was taken!

  21. hey i went there NOAHS ARC each year for my birthday! i remember inside the waiting area the benchs were fine black sculptures and there were 2 bears black, one on each side and it was like you were sitting on there lap. i still have the plastic giraffe stirs! i have 67 of them. all beautiful. i hear they will be demolsihing it on july 4th my sister just called and said it was mentioned in the st charles journal . thank you for the trip down memory lane i enjoyed your northland mall piece as well. the noahs arc was so cool my birthday is on christimas day so we went alot!!!!!!!!!candice

  22. Another memory bits the dust. Had dinner there with my date before going to the prom at Three Flags on the other side of I70 — 1974 or 1975.

  23. I used to go to Noah’s Ark as a kid. They had the best clam chowder in the whole world, and that’s all I ever got there. It’s sad watching something once so different and refreshing fall into disrepair. RIP, Noah’s Ark!

  24. Sad that yet another bona fide grade A roadside America classic bites the dust. Don’t you recoil in horror at the very thought of what unnecessary piece of crap will replace this particular treasure?
    -Happy Talk

  25. i bet u never knew this about me…but my grandmas house was further down the road beyond the arc. i passed it many many times going to grandmas house and i have never been inside either. i could only look from the car!!! i begged and begged, but even then i was too poor to go out to eat!

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