St. Louis Acquires Soulard Market: February 10, 1841

Soulard Market St. Louis

Julia Cerré Soulard began transferring property she inherited from her late husband, Antoine Soulard, to the city of St. Louis on this date in 1841. The area she was gifting to the city included a small plot of land that had been serving as a public market since 1779.

The area that would become known to us as Soulard Market was originally a flat meadow that was used by farmers to sell their wares. In fact, the land where the market was located had first belonged to Julia’s father, Gabriel Cerré, thanks to a land grant from Spain (Spain controlled the territory that became St. Louis from 1762 to 1801). Cerré gifted the land to his new son-in-law, but the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 caused a lawsuit over ownership of the land. After Antoine’s death, Julia was given the deed to the land, which finally settled the matter. However by 1841, Julia was gifting the land she controlled to the city as it grew. She stipulated the lot that contained Soulard Market remain in use as a place where the public could congregate to buy and sell goods, however, and her wish has been honored to this day.

Today Soulard Market claims to be the oldest public market still in operation west of the Mississippi. On Wednesday through Friday locals and tourists alike can stop by and browse a variety of products from vendors, and the market is known for its annual cultural events. The first permanent structures for the market were built in the 1830s, and the Renaissance-style grand hall was erected in 1929.