Posh Party Guide: Purser Center

The Purser Center auditorium. Photo courtesy of Purser Center

The phone starts ringing early, and it rings often. One of the top real estate companies in town wants to hold a corporate event in the auditorium, followed by a cocktail reception in the spectacular, glass-walled lobby. A major pharmaceutical corporation wants to reserve the venue for a holiday party. Several arts organizations want to book performances in the auditorium. And a bride-to-be wants to know if she can hold her wedding ceremony next to the fountain.

    It’s all in a day’s work for Emily Ratliff, event planner at the William D. Purser, DC Center. The venue, on the campus of Logan College of Chiropractic, has been called ‘one of the jewels of the great community of Chesterfield,’ and with good reason. “It’s one of the most beautiful spaces in St. Louis, an exceptional combination of modern style and classic beauty,” Ratliff says. “Its versatility makes it ideal for everything from corporate conferences and wedding receptions to stage shows and concerts.”

    Originally envisioned as a place to hold graduation ceremonies and other functions for Logan students, the center had expanded into a full-service community resource by the time it was completed in 2007. Named after Dr. William D. Purser, a 1953 Logan graduate who pledged $2 million to the project, it features a lobby of nearly 10,000 square feet, equally appropriate for banquets, fundraisers, cocktail receptions or exhibit booths. The main auditorium consists of a large assembly space and two smaller halls that can be rented separately for lectures and seminars, or combined to seat 1,500. “Everything’s on one floor, so it’s easy to get around,” Ratliff says. “It was specifically designed by TR,i Architects with events in mind, although its usage as a performing arts center turned out to be an unexpected bonus. Since we opened, we’ve hosted Erin Bode, Michael McDonald, The Black Rep, the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra and many others.”

    The facility is equipped with the latest wireless technology and high-tech lighting and sound systems. Clients have their choice of several catering services. “We can plan the entire event for you, or let you bring in your own planner and run the whole show yourself, whatever you’re comfortable with,” Ratliff says. “Either way, there’s a building manager and custodian on site, and a technical manager if needed. And I’m always available to share my knowledge of the site and offer suggestions and advice.”

    The grounds are spectacular, she adds. Logan College is situated on 112 park-like acres with rolling green hills and a large lake, and Purser Center opens onto a plaza and major fountain display. “Many of our clients choose to have cocktails outdoors, and then come inside for dinner,” Ratliff says. A naturally sloped, outdoor grass amphitheater behind the center seats up to 900 for concerts and other events. An outdoor pavilion with a fireplace and ceiling fans, ideal for picnic-style events, seats up to 200 guests. “There’s plenty of parking, and the venue is easily accessible with multiple entrances and exits so guests aren’t held up in traffic on the way in and out,” Ratliff says.

    Perhaps the best thing about Purser Center, she adds, is its location. “Thanks to all the westward expansion that’s going on, Chesterfield is fast becoming the new center of the business and philanthropic communities,” she says. “So the timing is right. People are so surprised when they see everything we have to offer. Their first response is, ‘Wow, I didn’t even know this was here!’ Their next response is, ‘Is it too early to book for next year?’”