I liked Don Breckenridge a lot. He had a sort of X-ray vision for development trends — and the confidence of a Wallenda.
Don built his first hotel (in 1964) after he noticed that the state capital’s "best" hotel was a wreck. He had no money, no land, and no experience — but he was certain he could offer travelers a better night’s sleep. He did — in Jeff City, and in more than 10,000 other hotel rooms in a dozen states over the years.
He built the Marriott (now Hilton) Pavilion Hotel which is the second most familiar City landmark to the thousands of Cardinals fans who drive in from across the Midwest for summer games. And, he noticed the potential of downtown loft living — and the return of well-to-do empty nesters to City condos well before most younger, hipper developers did. The triumphant King St. Louis on the old Edison Brothers Warehouse will always seem to me to be saluting Don’s foresight.
And it was Don’s intuition that St. Louisans would support another formal entertainment venue that inspired the region to work together to re-open the shuttered Kiel Opera House.
To Don’s family, his employees, and his many friends, I extend the City of St. Louis’s heartfelt condolences.