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St. Louis’ Soldiers Memorial Military Museum

May 27, 2019 Downtown, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on St. Louis’ Soldiers Memorial Military Museum

Our World War I memorial, the building known as Soldiers Memorial Military Museum,  opened nearly two decades after the war ended.

Soldiers Memorial officially opened on Memorial Day in 1938. The building was designed by St. Louis architecture firm Mauran, Russell & Crowell in a classical style with art deco flourishes. It features four monumental groups of sculptures by artisan Walker Hancock that represent courage, loyalty, sacrifice, and vision. Hancock, a native St. Louisan, served in the US Army in World War II but is perhaps best known for being one of the Monuments Men, the group tasked with protecting and recovering cultural and historical artifacts from wartime damage.

By the end of the 1940s the Court of Honor had been established across the street from Soldiers Memorial. It memorializes the St. Louisans who lost their lives during World War II. (Missouri History)

In 2016 it closed for a much needed renovation by the Missouri History Museum, the new caretakers of the property and collections.

The St. Louis flag being lowered on Sunday February 28, 2016

After it closed for renovations I posted some of the pics I took on that last pre-renovation day.  It reopened last Fall, here are some before pics along with the after renovation pics.

2016: The east & west galleries hadn’t changed in decades. Sunshine was damaging some artifacts, neither was air conditioned.
Blinds now cover the historic windows, protecting the artifacts. Lots of new displays for the vast collection.
2016: upstairs meeting room had fixed seating, no air conditioning
With the seating removed the room can host many different types of functions. Lighting is improved, and air conditioning was added here and the rest of the building.
2016: Obviously built before the ADA, getting to most of the 2nd floor required steps or a non-compliant ramp.
Most lifts are very cheap looking/feeling, but this one is in such a prominent location it had to look good.
From up top
About to enter
2016: no ramp existed until the 21st century. This ramp is located on the NW corner, near Pine & 14th.
A 2nd ramp was added on the opposite corner, 13th & Chestnut.
2010 photo: The WWII Court of Honor looked very much the same since built.
A few slight changes were made, the most dramatic was replacing the grass with a raised pool/fountain.

Now for some more pics.

2016: The original elevator remains, but a new elevator was added on the opposite end. It travels to the higher level of the 2nd floor, so the lift can be avoided.
The basement level is now set up for additional exhibition space.
The lighting inside & out is greatly improved, now LED

If you haven’t checked it out I suggest you do so.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book — St. Louis State Hospital: A 150-Year Journey Toward Hope by Amanda Hunyar

April 19, 2019 Books, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on New Book — St. Louis State Hospital: A 150-Year Journey Toward Hope by Amanda Hunyar

In my 28+ years in St. Louis I’ve been in many buildings that interest me. One I haven’t seen inside of is the St. Louis State Hospital on Arsenal. It and the grounds have changed considerably in my decades here.

A few hardcover book from local publisher Reedy Press gives readers a greater understanding:

While the St. Louis State Hospital dome has loomed over the St. Louis skyline for 150 years, the goings-on behind the closed doors of this mysterious complex of South City buildings has been the subject of speculation and curiosity for generations. This fascinating book takes readers beyond the gates on Arsenal and into an institution’s unique history.

It was through those gates in 1869 that 127 patients suffering from mental illnesses would pass to seek recovery through compassionate care. This richly illustrated volume presents their stories through a timeline of the hospital’s history and gives an understanding of what life was like for these vulnerable, often poor and disenfranchised patients. Included are photos and anecdotes of weekly dances in the fifth-floor ballroom, card game parties, and long walks to newly opened Tower Grove Park. Straight from the carefully curated archives are the records of traditional lobotomies, experimental drug therapies, and electric shock—all prevalent treatments of their time.

Author Amanda Hunyar takes readers behind the scenes and through the history of the iconic building with a complex tale to tell. Once the third largest hospital in St. Louis, and a place of healing and hope for thousands, its stories from generations past are finally ready to be shared. Even those with merely a passing understanding of its buildings can now come to appreciate its importance in the history of our region. (Reedy Press)

This new book is by Amanda Hunyar. I’ve loved flipping through the photo-filled pages.

— Steve Patterson

 

Four Historic Properties in Columbus Square Neighborhood

April 8, 2019 Featured, History/Preservation, Neighborhoods Comments Off on Four Historic Properties in Columbus Square Neighborhood

As previously posted, we moved to the Columbus Square neighborhood at the end of December. Since I’ve been looking into the history of the neighborhood, a challenge since much of the pre-WWII structures have been razed and replaced.

Today’s post is an introduction to the four properties within the neighborhood boundaries that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These are listed below in the order they were added to the register, the date is shown at the end. The text for each is from their nomination to the register, click heading for each to view PDF (files are very large).

St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, 1220 N 11th St. (5/19/78)

St. Joseph’s last month, the antique car was out front due to a wedding taking place inside

The Shrine of St. Joseph is important to St. Louis as a building of great aesthetic value and as a monument to the Jesuits and their powerful role in the history of the Archdiocese· and the City of St. Louis.

Of the churches built in Baroque revival style, St. Joseph’s is one of two remaining in St. Louis. Neo-Baroque, popular with the Jesuits throughout the nation during the nineteenth century, had origins in the Tridentine Catholicism of the Counter Reformation.

In the 16th and 17th centuries the Church introduced a series of reforms that stressed the parish, regular Sunday attendance at Mass, an increased number of devotional activities, the creation of lay confraternities, and so on. Revived in the mid-1800’s this style of worship sunk deep roots in the urban neighborhoods of German and Irish Immigrants. It was the religion of three generations of American Catholics.

The parish of St. Joseph’s, established in 1845 for the German-speaking Catholics of the near north side, grew out of a small immigrant community who settled near St. Louis University and worshipped at St. Aloysius Chapel, the College Hall of the Jesuit University. These newcomers were among the first arrivals of massive waves of European immigrants who would transform a steamboat town of around 16,000 in 1840 into a cosmopolitan commercial center with a population of 160,000 by the outbreak of the Civil War.

The cornerstone of the Roman Catholic Church of St. Joseph’s was set by Bishop Kenrick of St. Louis on April 14, 1844 on land donated by Anne Mullanphy Biddle, daughter of John Mullanphy and widow of Major Thomas Biddle. “…a great concourse of people, including the Hibernians, came for the cornerstone laying…” The church was completed by a volunteer labor force made up of parishioners. On the fourth of August of 1846, Father James van de Velde, S.J., later Bishop of Chicago, dedicated the building.

Immediately, the parish became the center of the community. Schools and an orphanage were established for the young and the Jesuits turned their attention to intense missionary work. In 1846 the Bureau for German Immigration was organized by Father Hafbauer, S.J. in order to attract immigrating Germans to Missouri’s Jesuit settlements. Father Seisel, S.J. served as editor of ”Herald des Glaubens”, St. Louis’ first German Catholic paper. Three parishioners organized the parent organization of the nationally important German Roman Catholic Central Society (Katholische Central Verein) in 18540 Another school, the first St. Louis installation of the Sisters of Notre Dame, was sponsored that same year.

Neighborhood Gardens Apartments, 1205 N 7th St. (all of CB 558) (1/31/86)

The south side of Neighborhood Gardens earlier this month

The Neighborhood Gardens Apartments located on City Block 558 (bounded by O’Fallon, North 7th, Biddle and North 8th Streets) near downtown St. Louis qualifies for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under Criteria A and C and is eligible under the following areas of significance: ARCHITECTURE: Completed in 1935 from plans drawn by the St. Louis firm of Hoener, Baum & Froese, Neighborhood Gardens is an excellent example of Modernistic domestic architecture. Although knowledgeable in the latest developments of International Style European housing projects, the designers and client chose materials associated with the fine local brick vernacular traditions. It is the imaginative handling of this brickwork combined with a thoughtful site plan and skillful layout of the apartments which give the project a durable distinction even more evident today than when it was constructed. COMMUNITY PLANNING: Neighborhood Gardens is a testimony to the dedica tion of a Settlement House’s efforts to demonstrate that low-rent housing could be well- designed and financially sound. The Association’s commitment to excellence is reflected in the Board’s support for a study of exemplars in Europe as well as financial contributions to assure that the project would be built. Dedicated to the premise that physical environment influences behavior, the Association was a pioneer in the attempts to rebuild American inner cities.

Sligo Iron Store Co. Buildings, 1301 N. Sixth St. (4/21/10)

Lately known as McGuire Moving & Storage

The  Sligo Iron Store Co. complex is located just north of downtown St. Louis, Missouri on a triangular shaped parcel of land bordered on the south by O’Fallon Street, on the west by N. 7th Street, and on the north and east by Interstate 70 (formerly N 6th Street). Constructed primarily between 1902 to c. 1940, the Sligo Iron Store Co. complex is comprised of five buildings, four of which are contributing. The contributing buildings include all buildings historically associated with Sligo: five-story Main Office and Warehouse (1906), two-story Garage (1903 with 1923 alterations) and its one-story addition (c. 1940), two-story Machine Shop (1902 with c. 1917 alterations), and the five-story 7th Street Warehouse (1911). While constructed over a 40-year period, the contributing buildings share a common vocabulary of building materials and represent the prototypical construction techniques common in the early 20′ century. In 1959, a 2-story functionally unrelated Sporting Goods Factory was constructed to the north and that building was subsequently incorporated into the Sligo parcel. The Sporting Goods Factory is non-contributing due to its date and its construction for a functionally unrelated use.

Cass Bank and Trust Co., 1450 N. 13th St. (2/14/11)

July 2012

Constructed in 1927, the Cass Bank and Trust Building at 1450 N. 13th Street, St. Louis (Independent City), is a two-story Neo-Classical Revival style building sheathed in smooth limestone with a granite veneer base. On the primary (west) façade, monumentality is clearly emphasized by a dominating colonnade of eight squared Tuscan columns supporting a minimally embellished entablature. Recessed between the columns are large metal nine-light windows. Centered in the colonnade is a slightly projecting entrance topped by a cornice and elaborate crown featuring stylized stone eagles. The entablature consists of a plain architrave, frieze with bas relief medallions and a cornice lined with cylindrical guttae. The colonnade is flanked by two slightly projecting end blocks with tripartite division. The base contains three centrally grouped metal windows with a large twelve-light metal window in the shaft. The entablature is similar to that in the colonnade but with a more decorative frieze. In 1964, the bank constructed a raised concrete and brick addition for offices and drive-thru lanes. The upper two stories have inset bands of tall, narrow windows set in limestone surrounds. Though the addition is a modern design, the building’s two primary decorative elevations and the interior banking hall with its elaborately chamfered ceiling, classical plaster relief work and its colossal Corinthian columns are essentially unaltered since its date of construction.

Future posts will expand on each of these four.

— Steve Patterson

 

Goodbye Mullanphy Park

April 5, 2019 Featured, History/Preservation, North City, Parks Comments Off on Goodbye Mullanphy Park

Friday’s are usually political post, often new bills being introduced at the Board of Aldermen that day. Those will resume when the 2019-20 session begins next week. Today’s post is a look at a wealthy St. Louis family, what’s left of the street & park named after them.

Mullanphy Street was named either for John Mullanphy or his only son, Bryan Mullanphy.

John Mullanphy (1758-August 29, 1833):

Mullanphy was the first millionaire in St. Louis. Born in Ireland, he enlisted the famous Irish Brigade during the French Revoltion. After emigrating to the United States, he opened a trading store in Frankfort, Kentucky. Here he met Charles Gratiot, brother-in-law of Auguste Chouteau (the founder of St. Louis.) Gratiot persuaded Mullanphy to come to St. Louis & he opened another trading store in that city. During the War of 1812, Mullanphy bought a large supply of cotton at low prices. After the war, he shipped cotton to England where it was sold at record high prices. He profited a million dollars which he invested in St. Louis real estate. This became the foundation of the Mullanphy fortune, which was later inherited by his 7 daughters. Much of his later life was spent in philanthropic work. (Find A Grave)

Bryan Mullanphy (September 16, 1809-June 15, 1851)

Philanthropist. He was the only son of John Mullanphy, St. Louis’ earliest millionaire. Educated in Europe, he was disinherited by his father because his expressions of generosity were considered to be “reckless habits,” and the great Mullanphy fortune was divided among his seven sisters. They later re-divided their interitance to include him. In 1840, he was appointed a Judge of the Circuit Court and in 1847 was elected Mayor of St. Louis. Never married, Mullanphy’s will was in litigation for 9 years before being declared void because it was written while he was under the influence of alcohol. Rather than allowing such evidence to be admitted to the court and spoil his public image, his sisters relinquished their claims to his estate. Mullanphy founded the Travelers Aid Society, St. Vincent De Paul Society, Mullanphy Hospital, Mullanphy Park and Playground, Mullanphy School, Mullanphy Immigrant Home and countless other bequests to the poor and unfortunate who came to St. Louis in his era. (Find A Grave)

My guess is the street was named after the father as it was platted prior to 1841. At the southwest corner of Mullanphy Street & 10th Street was Mullanphy Playground, later Mullanphy Park. This, I think, was named after the son who had served as mayor and died at only 41.

In the 1907 Civic League’s Plan for St. Louis they talk about the Mullanphy Playground after the Carr Square District, from page 45:

An opportunity exists for the establishment of a civic center, adequate for the present needs of this district, in conjunction with the municipal playground at Tenth and Mullanphy Streets. The property extending along the Mullanphy Street front of the playground from Tenth to Eleventh Streets, and now under lease by the municipality, should be purchased by the city. It should also purchase the small lot on Tenth Street, now under lease, and the houses on Eleventh Street, now owned by the Mullanphy Board. In these houses there should be established a gymnasium and public bathhouse, a branch reading room of the Public Library and a hall for public meetings. The playground could then be enlarged by dirt tilling and by the removal of the present temporary library and bath buildings to the permanent quarters.  

The October 1909 Sanborn Fire Insurance map shows the playground hadn’t yet been expanded.

Sanborn Fire Insurance map, October 1909. Sheet 015, Volume Three.

The houses on 11th remain, block 602 is divided into multiple parcels. Looking at historic aerials going back to 1955 it appears a large building replaced the residential buildings. The gymnasium? Whatever it was, by 1968 the building was gone. The old aerials showed the steps up to the elevated level field of the park.

I recall walking, biking, driving past this park in the early 90s when I lived nearby in Old North St. Louis. As 10th was a one-way street to exit I-70 to reach downtown, many people drove past this park for decades. People still drive past it, but on the other side.

Apple Maps still shows Mullanphy Park, though it never extended to Cass Ave.
Looking west on Mullanphy Street from 10th, it’s blocked by the on/off ramps for the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge that opened 5 years ago.
Looking south toward Cass Ave. you can see the corner steps up to the field that’s higher than the sidewalk.
Closer we see steps off 10th Street and an old stone retaining wall.
A sign next to a tree asks that it not be cut down, that someone is caring for the old tree.

This once-important neighborhood park is now owned by one of Paul McKee’s Northside entities. The surrounding neighborhood hasn’t existed for decades and the west side if now a massive on/off ramp.

Goodbye Mullanphy Park.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Patrick’s Day Myths; Early St. Louis Irish History

March 20, 2019 Car Sharing, Featured, History/Preservation, Popular Culture Comments Off on St. Patrick’s Day Myths; Early St. Louis Irish History

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya. I knew the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was going to have a low response, the more controversial the subject, the more responses.

Q: Agree or disagree: Irishman Saint Patrick is celebrated today for bringing Christianity to Ireland, driving out snakes.

  • Strongly agree: 1 [6.67%]
  • Agree: 3 [20%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [6.67%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Disagree: 2 [13.33%]
  • Strongly disagree: 6 [40%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 2 [13.33%]

Most correctly disagreed. I say correct because everything stated in the poll question was false:

  • Patrick wasn’t Irish
  • Christianity was already in Ireland before Patrick
  • Ireland, an island, didn’t have an literal snakes

This reminds me of grade school in the early 70s, cutting shamrocks out of green construction paper, etc. We were taught myths that just aren’t accurate — including the color green!

The following is from the history.com article titled: “St. Patrick’s Day Myths Debunked“:

  • Myth: St. Patrick was Irish.
    Though one of Ireland’s patron saints, Patrick was born in what is now England, Scotland or Wales—interpretations vary widely—to a Christian deacon and his wife, probably around the year 390. According to the traditional narrative, at 16 he was enslaved by Irish raiders who attacked his home; they transported him to Ireland and held him captive there for six years. Patrick later fled to England, where he received religious instruction before returning to Ireland to serve as a missionary.
  • Myth: St. Patrick was British.
  • Myth: St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland.
  • Myth: St. Patrick banished snakes from the Emerald Isle.
  • Myth: Green has historically been associated with St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Myth: Popular St. Patrick’s Day festivities have their roots in Ireland.
  • Myth: Corned beef is a classic St. Patrick’s Day dish.

You can click the link above to read the debunking of each myth.

Irish-American immigrants celebrated St. Patrick’s Day as a show of their pride — despite lots of anti-Irish discrimination:

The refugees seeking haven in America were poor and disease-ridden. They threatened to take jobs away from Americans and strain welfare budgets. They practiced an alien religion and pledged allegiance to a foreign leader. They were bringing with them crime. They were accused of being rapists. And, worst of all, these undesirables were Irish. (history.com)

Sounds similar today’s anti-immigration rhetoric.

The money to build the Mullaphy Emigrant Home on N 13th was left by Bryan Mullanphy, the son of Irish immigrant John Mullanphy. Bryan Mullanphy was mayor in the 1840s.

Bryan’s  sister Anne Mullanphy  married Thomas Biddle. After his death she donated the land for St. Joseph’s church in what’s now known as the Columbus Square neighborhood.  Most Irish immigrants were poor living in tenements & flats stretching west to Jefferson, including what became known as the former [Kerry] Patch neighborhood:

The neighborhood’s boundaries shifted over time—Irish families moved farther west, as German, Polish, and Eastern European immigrants settled around them after the Civil War. But during its heyday, the Patch was generally described as being between N. 15th Street and Hogan Street, Division Street and Cass Avenue. The heart of the neighborhood was squeezed into the tight rectangle between 16th and 18th streets, Cass Avenue and O’Fallon Street—a few blocks east of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in near north St. Louis.

In the early 19th century, emigrants left Ireland to escape English political oppression. By 1847, during the height of An Gorta Mór, The Great Hunger, they flooded out of the country to escape starvation and death. As Diamond notes, the immigrants’ sheer numbers, as well as their religious affiliation—Catholic—did not endear them to second- and third-generation American Protestants, specifically the nativist Know Nothing movement, founded in 1845, the year the potato famine began. The level of disdain and outright hostility toward Irish immigrants in major American cities, including St. Louis, was reflected in ads for housekeepers, which indicated “NO IRISH NEED APPLY.” Earlier Irish immigrants who had blended into St. Louis society also castigated the new arrivals for not working hard enough to assimilate, Diamond adds. Patchers responded by banding together. (St. Louis Magazine)

Once Irish neighborhoods were razed for public housing projects: Cochran Gardens, Carr Square, and Pruitt-Igoe.

— Steve Patterson

 

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