As the 50th anniversary of the first man to walk on the moon approaches, one of the unexpected places to celebrate this American space landmark is St. Louis’ Moonrise Hotel, filled with moon and space memorabilia and art ranging from rare to kitschy and everything in between. The boutique hotel is topped with the world’s largest man-made moon — a 3,000 pound revolving beacon on the rooftop. St. Louis offers additional space-related attractions at the Boeing Prologue Room, Challenger Learning Center and St. Louis Science Center. St. Louis’ Moonrise Hotel will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with a party on July 20, 2019.

Joe Edwards, owner of the Moonrise Hotel in St. Louis, has been obsessed with space since he was a child. The avid collector and developer — who has built a hotel themed around the moon and space — still has the rocketship bank he used to save his coins as a boy. It’s on display in his Moonrise Hotel in St. Louis along with many rare items from the Apollo missions, the space race and aviation history.

This Midwestern city on the Mississippi River might not be on the radar as a place to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, but because of Edwards’ love of space and his creative vision, visitors can immerse themselves in the history of the first man on the moon at his boutique hotel.

Edwards enjoys sharing his love of space with his hotel’s guests. The Moonrise is stocked with display cases that are filled with his collections. Moon-themed artwork covers the walls in public spaces and guest rooms and even lunar-shaped dog treats are offered to four-legged guests at the pet-friendly hostelry. The in-house restaurant is named Eclipse as a nod to the moon theme.

“My collections range anywhere from rare items and toys to things I’ve picked up for just a few pennies,” says Edwards. “Some of the items I have had since I was a child and some I bought at space auctions to display in the hotel.” Visitors who peer into the hotel’s display cases will see authentic memorabilia, including a tiny piece of the moon and a patch taken on the Apollo 11 mission and signed by all three astronauts. A telegram signed by both Orville and Wilbur Wright and a letter from aviator Charles Lindbergh of Spirit of St. Louis fame honor the early days of flight in the hotel’s cases. Pop culture items abound, including a Buzz Lightyear doll, a sculpture of cartoon pinup girl Betty Boop resting on the moon, astronaut nesting dolls and tin space robots.

Edwards remembers watching the first man step onto the moon on July 20,1969. “To watch that in black and white on a little TV and to see that foot go down on the surface, wow, what a moment.” Edwards met that man, astronaut Neil Armstrong, in 2011 and calls it one of the highlights of his life. Photos of Edwards with Armstrong and all of the other moon walkers can be found throughout the hotel.

The biggest piece of space pop culture at the hotel is the world’s largest man-made moon, perched on the rooftop terrace. “It’s 3,000 pounds and 10 feet in diameter,” says Edwards. The authentically rendered moon, custom-created for the hotel, has a light and a dark side and rotates once every 60 seconds. While not as tall as the city’s Gateway Arch, it has become a popular sky-high landmark in St. Louis.

The rotating moon isn’t the only unusual thing on top of the hotel. “This is the only hotel in the country where the entire rooftop is made of solar panels,” says Edwards. “So the sun really is powering the moon here at the Moonrise Hotel.”

The Moonrise Hotel is located on Delmar Blvd. in the Loop neighborhood of St. Louis, named one of the 10 Great Streets in America by the American Planning Association. The hotel will host a party on the rooftop under the hotel’s moon to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing and Armstrong’s first steps on the lunar surface. The free event will run from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday, July 20, 2019.

“I think the Moonrise Hotel does spark people’s interest in the space program again,” says Edwards. “When people stay here — or just stop by to see the collections — and they read about the exploits of the astronauts, they can join the whole world in reflecting on what the United States accomplished 50 years ago in 1969.”

Via Press Release