Built St. Louis > > Recalled to Life || Midtown > > The Continental Building

Though it opened to great fanfare and accolades, Continental's glory was short-lived. Born on the eve of the Great Depression, the building never quite seemed to shake the unfortunate legacy of its youth.

Even before the building's official opening, it was on the road to financial troubles. In May, 1930, thieves entered the building, and tore off a temporary screen which was protecting the Grand National Bank's basement vault until the permanent vault door could be installed. They made off with nearly one million dollars' worth of goodsand cash. To this day the robbery has never been solved, although police at the time suspected it was an inside job.

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Post-Dispatch, January 5, 1934
[??] Say [payments for] Use of 20-Room Structure Are 13 Months Behind

A claim in behalf of the Continental Life Insurance Co. against Ed Mays, its president, for rent for the sumptuous penthouse on top of the Continental Life Building, is the basis for one of the charges of mismanagement brough by the State Insurance Department, the Post-Dispatch learned today.


As has been told, Insurance Superintendent O'Malley has sued to dissolve the company and enjoin it from further operation, making broad charges of mismanagement and threatened-if not actual--insolvency...


As president of the insurance company, Mays, who is also president of the Grand National Bank, has been receiving a salary of $25,000 a year... The insurance department is known to have felt that the salary paid Mays was excessive in present conditions and to have suggested a reduction, particulary in view of the fact that Mays also was president of the Grand National Bank.


...Payment of a reward of $140,000 by the [bank] in January, 1931, for return of $800,000 in bonds stolen in the spectatular robbery of the bank's deposit boxes, was investigated by the insurance department...


...How employes [sic] of the Continental LIfe Insurance Co., were "asked" to deposit 10 per cent of their salaries in the affiliated Grand National Bank and how, after the deposits had accumualated for 16 months, Ed Mays..."recommended" they exchange the deposits for stock in the Continental Life, was related today by employe-stockholders and former employes who declined to become stockholders.

Five employes, it was learned, refused to turn over their savings accounts for insurance stock and were discharged three days after the stock-selling scheme had been broached, they have told reporters and State investigators.

The stock-selling scheme was presented to the insurance company employes a short time before Christmase 1932, in a cirular letter from "Office of the President"...the letter read:

"...In July, 1931, the company asked that each and every employe and officer of the company place in a savings account in the Grand National Bank of S. Louis 10 percent of his salary.

"[??] are now buying some of the [??] stock of the Continental Life Insurance Co. and we are recommending to each employe that he let us transfer the savings account into the capital stock of the Continental Life Insurance Co. The stock will be furnished you at