Holleman: Stranger’s Kindness and Place in Railton Has Gained St. Louis a Long-Time Fan | new








Jan Elsbach in 1968 outside the Railton Apartments at 205 North 18th Street in downtown St. Louis. (Photo courtesy of Jan Elsbach)


“This place was wonderful,” Elsbach said. “It was the sweetest and most enjoyable circumstance.

“I had a room for myself, with a bathroom and a phone, and they gave you breakfast and dinner. And if you couldn’t cook dinner, they would make a lunch bag for you, ”she says.

To emphasize her naivety at the time, Elsbach said that shortly after moving into the Evangeline, she bought a car for $ 1,000.

“I paid for it at the dealership and went to pick it up later,” she said. “When I came back, the salesman said, ‘Girl, do you realize you left here without receiving a receipt? I could have kept your money – so don’t do it again. ‘

“Sometimes I can’t believe how stupid I was,” she says.

Elsbach lived at Evangeline for two years – while working full-time as a teacher for St. Louis public schools, working part-time as a switchboard operator at the Salvation Army home for single mothers, and going in night school to get a master’s degree. at St. Louis University.

A historical note on the hotel:






Railton Apartments

The Railton Apartments building in downtown St. Louis at the corner of 18th and Pine streets on May 24, 2021. Photo by Sara Diggins, [email protected]


Sara diggins


Built in 1928 as the Robert E. Lee Hotel, it was one of several lodgings that housed train travelers from Union Station.

the Salvation Army bought it in 1939, renamed it and used it to house military wives. Later it became a residence for single female workers, like Elsbach.



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