Phyllis Wheatley Heritage Center

Welcome to St. Louis’ newest premier event venue!

Interior images of the Phyllis Wheatley Heritage Center at YWCA Metro St. Louis
The Phyllis Wheatley Heritage Center is conveniently located just minutes away from the heart of Midtown in the up-and-coming Locust Business District, and blocks from the new St. Louis CITY SC stadium, Union Station and the Gateway Arch.

The Phyllis Wheatley branch of the YWCA was formed in 1911 to serve African-American women and girls. Our facility on Locust is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the City of St. Louis. We are thrilled to share more about our unique cultural significance in our city and the nation with our community.

We have just completed an extensive renovation of the Heritage Center, and are proud to offer a stunning location where you can celebrate significant and momentous occasions. Our mission is to offer everything you need to create a beautiful environment and an event to remember. From legacy events, fundraiser galas, weddings, concerts and receptions, to community engagements, we offer the canvas on which your vision will come to life. The hallmark of our venue is a strong sense of place, and our hospitality team will expertly guide you and help you create your unforgettable event.

Finally, as an important part of YWCA Metro St. Louis, your patronage will help support our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women in our region. Read more about our services here.

2711 Locust Street, St. Louis, MO 63103

About Our Venue

This newly renovated, magnificent venue boasts a Great Room that accommodates up to 200 guests (seated). The focal point of the Ballroom is the Persistence of Spirit exhibit that displays the history of the Phyllis Wheatley Branch of YWCA, formed in 1911 to serve African-American women and girls. YWCA staff may be available to speak about the history of this important facility, and its namesake, Phyllis Wheatley.

Amenities include:

  • Seats up to 220
  • 72″ round tables and chairs
  • Catering/registration tables
  • High boy tables
  • Green Room
  • House sound system and microphones
  • Accessible restrooms
  • Two entrances; one accessible
  • Spacious lobby
  • Wi-Fi access
  • On-site event manager
  • Stellar preferred catering options
  • Security for evening events
  • Event planning assistance available

Phyllis Wheatley Heritage Center Interior

Phyllis Wheatley Heritage Center Floor Plan

Check Availability and Rates
Please submit this form, and someone from our staff will be delighted to contact you to discuss your event and pricing. We offer discounted rates for non-profit organizations, other human services agencies and the military.

Catering

We offer locally owned and operated catering. Our preferred caterers will provide a stellar experience, offering premium cuisine and service. Our caterers represent a variety of providers whose service offerings and menus align with our business model.

We are happy to accommodate dietary preferences. Our chefs offer gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options. We will ensure that no guest is left out because of their dietary preferences.

If you wish to contract with a caterer that is not on our list of preferred vendors, they must be approved prior to booking your event. They will be required to be in business with a brick and mortar location, website and staff to maintain the service level expected and will be required to provide references from other venues. They must also complete our catering contract and provide a certificate of insurance. Additionally, we charge all outside caterers the standard 18% service fee.

Caterer or bar service must hold liquor license and certificate of insurance.

Venue Guidelines/FAQ
  • A 50% non-refundable deposit will be required to book a rental for the Phyllis Wheatley Heritage Center. Space will not be confirmed until the rental contract and deposit are received.
  • Guests must vacate the premises no later than (1) one hour after the contracted time, otherwise, additional pro-rated rental service fees will apply.
  • A list of any special services or deliveries for the Event to be provided or made by the Client or any third party on behalf of the Client (i.e., music equipment, audio-visual equipment, flowers, etc.) must be submitted to the PWHC for its advance approval no less than 14 days prior to the event. Any items left behind will be discarded after 3 days.
  • Phyllis Wheatley Heritage Center has an approved catering list available from which to select a caterer. Caterers not on our preferred list may be considered, with restrictions. Outside caterers will be charged the standard 18% service fee based on pre-tax final catering charges. Every caterer will be required to keep one staff person present until the end of your event.
  • The Facility Rental fee includes tables and chairs, as well as their setup and takedown according to a floor plan, to be provided by the Client no later than 14 days prior to the event. PWHC will provide the appropriate number of chairs based on the guest count. We do not provide extra chairs for open seating unless requested.
  • PWHC will provide tables and chairs: 72” rounds seating up to 8 guests per table. Catering/registration tables and high-boy tables are available upon request.
  • PWHC provides a House Sound system available for background or dinner music and handheld microphones. There may be additional charges for an AV tech.
  • The caterer provides everything you need for food service, including napkins, flatware, and china. All tables must be covered to maintain the integrity of the tabletops. No food may be left at the venue.
  • PWHC does not allow anything to be attached to the walls or hung from the ceiling. PWHC allows open flame candles, but the flame must be covered by glass. For example, a votive with a lantern cover is acceptable. We do not allow tapers or pillars which are not covered by glass. The PWHC also does not allow confetti and all balloons must be anchored.
  • All evening events must conclude by 11 pm and the venue will be vacated by midnight. The client will be charged for every 15-minute increment after midnight.
  • Bar service must be selected from our preferred vendor list and will conclude one-half hour prior to the end of the contracted time. Neither the client nor guests of client may bring alcohol into the venue. Vendors are not allowed to consume alcohol on the premises during events. PWHC is a smoke-free facility. This includes cigarettes, e-cigarettes, pipes, and cigars.
  • The maintenance staff will enter the room 15 minutes after the contracted end time. All decorations must be removed by client within the one-hour timeframe allotted post-contracted time of the event. Any items left behind will be discarded after 3 days.
  • Valet parking is not included in the venue rental fee. PWHC is not responsible for cars parked on any parking lots during or after the contacted the event time.
  • PWHC offers disabled access via the east entrance.
  • Discounted rates are available for human services agencies, legacy clients and those booking multiple events per year in advance. U.S. Military: Active Duty, Reserves, Guard, and Veterans, we salute your service and offer 15% off venue rates.

Additional gratuity is accepted but is never expected nor required.

History

In 1941, after nearly 30 years in its original location, the YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Branch opened its doors at a new location, 2709 Locust Street, to better meet the needs of its rapidly growing membership.

First established in 1911, the Branch’s new home provided living space for single women and popular educational, educational, recreational and leadership programs for women and girls.

During the era of legal segregation, the Phyllis Wheatley Branch provided opportunities for fellowship and support to thousands of women and youth. With more than 70 bedrooms for permanent and visiting guests, the Branch offered a safe “home away from home” for young women starting out on their own in the city. With a library, club rooms, lounge areas and food service, the Branch became the meeting place for prominent African American social and civic groups which, at the time, were excluded from “whites only” hotels and private clubs due to restrictive public accommodation laws.

In 1953, a gymnasium was added to accommodate steady growth. From 1939 to 1985, the Branch served as the administrative site for Camp Derricotte in Troy, MO, the first camp for African American girls in the state.

In 1994, faced with deteriorating conditions, YWCA relocated the Branch to its beautiful but smaller facility on West Pine. The original building on Locust was “moth balled” until a financially feasible use could be developed.

Valuing the historic significance of the facility to all St. Louisans – of whatever race or background – in addition to its important role in our region’s African American heritage, the YWCA established a task force to determine the best future for the facility.

The task force, chaired by YWCA Board President Toni Bailey and Jim Buford, President of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, was charged with finding a use that would:

  • Align with YWCA’s mission and commitment to empowering women, developing youth and eliminating racism.
  • Support the economic revitalization of the St. Louis community and be financially feasible.
  • Help advance the St. Louis Community socially, culturally and economically.

With participation by more than 300 community leaders and stakeholders in advisory groups and town hall meetings, the vision for the redevelopment of the historic facility was born.

The main building, a former residence for women, would become the YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Apartments and once again provides affordable housing with support services to promote self-sufficiency.

The attached gymnasium, built in 1953, became the YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Heritage Center in 2004, to provide:

  • A home and a critically-needed space for innovative leadership development and life-skills programs that help women and girls build better lives for themselves.
  • Meeting and event space for community and civic groups, a use that fulfills a dream of longtime YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Branch members.
  • Space for YWCA programs and events that provide education and dialogue to advance racial and ethnic understanding.
  • Support of the economic development and neighborhood revitalization of the area.

In 2022, another extensive renovation of the building was conducted, and YWCA Metro St. Louis is thrilled to present this treasured facility to the community again in April, 2023.

About Phyllis Wheatley

Phyllis Wheatley (1753-1784) was America’s first black poet. Born in Senegal, Africa, she was sold into slavery to a Boston family at age 7. By age 12, Phyllis was reading the Greek and Latin classics, and passages from the Bible. She wrote her first poem at 13.

In 1773, 39 of her poems were published in London as “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.” It was the first book to be published by a black American.

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