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Soldiers Memorial Opened Memorial Day 1938, Will Reopen November 3, 2018

May 28, 2018 Downtown, Events/Meetings, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on Soldiers Memorial Opened Memorial Day 1938, Will Reopen November 3, 2018

A century ago World War 1 was ongoing in Europe, having begin in 1914. This coming Fall marks 100 years since the beginning of the end of the war to end all wars.

November 3, 1918 – Mutiny strikes the German Navy at the ports of Kiel and Wilhelmshaven as sailors refuse orders to put to sea to engage in a final colossal battle with the British Navy. Along with this, revolutionary fervor and Bolshevist-style uprisings erupt in German cities including Munich, Stuttgart and Berlin. The extent of the unrest stuns German leaders, and even the Allies, who fear Germany might now succumb to a violent Bolshevist revolution in the manner of Russia. This brings a stark urgency to the armistice negotiations.

November 3, 1918 – The only remaining ally of Germany, Austria-Hungary, signs an armistice with Italy, leaving Germany alone in the war. (Source)

On November 11, 1918 Germany signed the armistice. St. Louis lost many men in the war, so a memorial to them was a given. It didn’t happen quickly.

Mayor Dickman laid the cornerstone on November 11, 1936

It would be nearly two decades since the end of the war before the memorial opened.

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. (Soldiers Memorial)

Plaques for the Korean & Vietnam wars were later added in the Court of Honor.  Both Soldiers Memorial & the Court of Honor have been managed by the City of St. Louis since built, but a few years ago the city struck a deal with the Missouri History Museum to take over operations of Soldiers Memorial and the Court of Honor. On February 28, 2016, my 49th birthday, both closed to undergo a much needed $30 million dollar facelift to correct decades of neglected maintenance and bring them into the 21st century.

The St. Louis flag being lowered on Sunday February 28, 2016
This is the East display room on the last day, the casework ad detailing are beautiful
The Court of Honor in the foreground with the Soldiers Memorial in the background

I’ve been serving on a disability access panel during the design phases for the site, exhibits, lighting, etc. Access is greatly improved for those of us who use wheelchairs — a second ramp up to the building has been added. The original elevator has been kept, but another was added. The new exhibits have been designed for all to enjoy — including those with vision or hearing loss. I look forward to seeing the finished results, rather than just drawings and renderings.

The reopening is scheduled for 9am on  November 3, 2018.  You can learn more about the renovation project here.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis’ Gateway Arch Inaugurated Half A Century Ago

May 25, 2018 Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on St. Louis’ Gateway Arch Inaugurated Half A Century Ago
Looking toward the Arch from 4th Street, July 2014

Fifty years ago today was the inauguration of the Gateway Arch, 10 months after the trams began taking visitors to the top: .

The arch’s visitor center opened on June 10, 1967, and the tram began operating on July 24.

The arch was dedicated by [VP Hubert] Humphrey on May 25, 1968. He declared that the arch was “a soaring curve in the sky that links the rich heritage of yesterday with the richer future of tomorrow” and brings a “new purpose” and a “new sense of urgency to wipe out every slum.” “Whatever is shoddy, whatever is ugly, whatever is waste, whatever is false, will be measured and condemned” in comparison to the Gateway Arch. About 250,000 people were expected to attend, but rain canceled the outdoor activities. The ceremony had to be transferred into the visitor center. After the dedication, Humphrey crouched beneath an exit as he waited for the rain to subside so he could walk to his vehicle. (Wikipedia)

Here’s an abbreviated  timeline leading up to the inauguration:

  • December 15, 1933: Proposal to raze original village for a riverfront memorial
  • December 21, 1935: President Franklin D Roosevelt signed an executive order approving a riverfront memorial
  • January 27, 1939: With 82 acres of property taken via condemnation, demolition of 40 city blocks began
  • May 30, 1947; Design competition opened
  • September 1, 1947: Submissions received
  • February 18, 1948: Design jury unanimously selected Saarinen’s design
  • February 12, 1963: Construction started
  • October 28, 1965: Final piece of Arch set into place
  • June 10, 1967: Visitor Center opened
  • July 24, 1967: Tram rides began
  • May 25, 1968: Inaugurated

The landscaping wasn’t done until the early 1980s.  Work is wrapping up now on phase 1 of a project to fix connectivity flaws with the original design,

— Steve Patterson

 

Pruitt-Igoe’s William Igoe Died 65 Years Ago; St. Louis Board of Aldermen Started New Session This Week

April 20, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on Pruitt-Igoe’s William Igoe Died 65 Years Ago; St. Louis Board of Aldermen Started New Session This Week
St. Louis City Hall

Sixty five years ago today the person for whom the intended white section of failed Pruitt-Igoe public housing project was named died at age 73:

William Leo Igoe (October 19, 1879 – April 20, 1953) was a United States Representative from Missouri.

Igoe was born in St. Louis to Irish immigrants. He attended the public and parochial schools of St. Louis and graduated from the law school of Washington University in St. Louis in 1902. He was admitted to the bar in the same year and commenced the practice of law in St. Louis. He was a member of the municipal assembly of St. Louis from 1909 until March 3, 1913, when he resigned to enter the United States Congress.

Igoe was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-third and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1913 – March 3, 1921). On April 6, 1917, he joined 49 other representatives in voting against declaring war on Germany. He declined to become a candidate for renomination in 1920. He resumed the practice of law and was an unsuccessful Democratic nominee for mayor of St. Louis in 1925. He was chairman of the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners 1933–1937. He died in St. Louis on April 20, 1953 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery. (Wikipedia)

You can see his photo on FindAGrave.

At the beginning of this week the St. Louis Board of Aldermen formerly ended their previous session and began a new session the following day. The 2017-2018 session ended on Monday, the 2018-2019 session began on Tuesday. No legislation was introduced — expect quite a bit a week from today when regular 10am Friday meetings resume. As I’ve done in the past, new Board Bills will be listed the day they’re introduced.

Since a new session is starting, this is a good opportunity to review the how a board bill becomes an ordinance:

Workflow
When it comes to passingBoard Bills, the Board of Aldermen agenda is broken down into four basic parts.

  1. First Reading of Board Bills/Referenceto Committee
  2. Second Reading of Board Bills
  3. Perfection of Board Bills
  4. Third Reading/Final Passage of Board Bills

Introduction of Board Bills
Each Friday, Bills are introduced (first read) during the Board of Aldermen meeting. The meetings are held at 10 A.M. in Room 230. The President then assigns each bill to one of 15 committees.

Committee Hearings
It is up to the chairman of each committee to schedule hearings to review any Bills that have been introduced and assigned.

During the committee hearing, an alderman will present a Bill to the committee members, discuss its merits and ask that it be sent to the full Board of Aldermen with a “do pass” recommendation. Sometimes, the committee will make changes to the Bill before sending it back to the floor. These changes are called Committee Substitutes or Amendments.

If a sponsor senses that a Bill lacks sufficient support, the sponsor may ask that it remain in committee while changes are drafted. Although rare, sometimes a Bill will remain in committee until the end of the session, at which time the Bill “dies.”

Second Reading
Once a bill has been passed out of committee, it is then ready for Second Reading at the next Board of Aldermen meeting.
There is no discussion of the bill during Second Reading – it’s simply read out loud.

Perfection
The following week, the bill appears on the Perfection Calendar. This is when the sponsor may stand up and explain to the full Board what the Bill is and ask for support. On controversial Bills, there is often a long and lively debate. This is also the time to make any final changes to the Bill (Floor Substitute).

It takes a majority of the aldermen present to vote in favor of perfecting a bill and move to Final Passage. (All votes at the Board require a majority of the aldermen present except on Final Passage, which requires a total of 15 “yes” votes regardless of how many aldermen are present at the meeting. Bills regarding the sale of City-owned land require 20 “yes” votes.)

Third Reading/Final Passage
One week after Perfection, the Bill will appear on Third Reading/Final Passage. No more changes can be made to a Bill at this point. Each alderman can either vote “yes” or “no.” It takes 15 “yes” votes to finally pass a Bill and send it to the Mayor’s desk.

There is a procedure by which a Bill can move more quickly through the process. After Second Reading or after Perfection an alderman may ask to suspend the rules and have the bill moved to the next section on the agenda during the same meeting. 

Timeline
First Reading = 1st week.
Passed out of committee and Second Reading = 2nd week
Perfection (suspend the rules and obtain Third Reading/Final Passage) = 3rd week
The quickest a Bill can go from First Reading to Final Passage is three weeks at a minimum.  It is not unusual, however, for the process to take longer.  It could be several weeks before the Bill gets a committee hearing, which would slow down the process.

The sponsor may ask that a Bill be held in committee while changes are drafted, which will also slow down the process. 

The best thing to do is to follow the weekly agenda. If the Bill you’re looking for does not appear on Second Reading, Perfection or Third Reading, then you know the sponsor must be holding it in committee for some reason or the Bill is still waiting for a hearing.

The above is from the About Board Bills page. In the meantime you can review votes on bills from last session here.  For example you can see who defeated a bill to create a buffer zone at abortion providers.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

St. Louis’ First Public School Opened 180 Years Ago Today

April 2, 2018 Education, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on St. Louis’ First Public School Opened 180 Years Ago Today
Couldn’t find an image of the first school, so here’d an early school:
Dumas Public School was located on Lucas just west of 14th, all razed when 14th was extended to Washington. Sanborn map via UMSL Digital Library

Free public education in St. Louis began 180 years ago today — 74 years after the city was founded:

The city was founded by the French in Spanish territory in 1764. French fur traders Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau founded St. Louis on high land just below the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. (Explore St. Louis)

The city’s population in 1830 was 4,977, but by 1840 was 16,469:

The children of St. Louis responded for the first time to the call of a public school bell. Private schools had long operated in the city, but until the Spring of 1838 there was no free general education. Land grants for schools were provided through the Louisiana cession and a board of school trustees was formed in 1817.Confusion over titles of the so-called “school lands” delayed the establishment of a school for several years. In 1831 a new school board was organized under an act of the Missouri legislature, and in 1837 plans were completed for two schoolhouses.

The first, Laclede Primary School at Fourth and Spruce streets, opened its doors April 2, providing elementary education for both boys and girls, and requiring tuition only from those who could afford to pay. The second school opened a few days later, and in 1841 the Benton School followed. Male teachers received a salary of $900 per year and female teachers received $500. (St. Louis Day by Day by Francis Hurd Stadler, page 62)

Well. poor white kids were now getting a basic education in this time before the Civil War. Keep in mind St. Louis University was founded two decades earlier, in 1818 — so only those who could afford private schools would’ve attended for decades. Washington University in St. Louis, also private, was founded 15 years after the first public school, in 1853.

I wanted to know more so I began searching:

In July 1837, the board agreed to build two school buildings, known as the North School and the South School, respectively located at the northeast corner of Broadway and Martin Luther King Boulevard (then Cherry Street) and at the southwest corner of 4th and Spruce streets. In December, the board met to purchase supplies and to interview potential teachers, and by March 1838, they had selected two candidates, David Armstrong and Miss M.H. Salisbury. The South School, later named Laclede Primary School, opened on April 1, 1838, with Edward Leavy and Sarah Hardy as co-principals.A third school, later named Benton School, opened in January 1842 at the northwest corner of 6th and Locust. The North School, for which the Board initially could not find a teacher, was abandoned and sold shortly after construction of Benton School due to the encroachment of a nearby market.

With the growth of the city, the school building campaign continued at a rapid pace. Between 1840 and 1860, more than twenty new schools were built by the Board, while several others occupied rented space. Among these new schools was the first high school in St. Louis, which opened inside Benton School in February 1853. Approximately 70 students enrolled in the school, and its first principal was Jeremiah D. Low. Courses offered included higher arithmetic, grammar and composition, basic and advanced algebra, geometry, trigonometry, surveying, navigation, and the Latin and German languages. The high school proved very popular among all social classes, and it encouraged attendance at lower level schools. After two years of construction, the first high school building, known as Central High School, opened on Olive Street in July 1855.

In 1848 William Greenleaf Eliot, the Unitarian clergyman in Saint Louis, was elected chair of the school board. He had a passion for creating schools. He and his congregants worked on a campaign to fund the expanding district. Only weeks after the St. Louis Fire of 1849, St. Louis voters approved a 1/10 percent property tax to support the district, and three years later, the Missouri General Assembly passed a school tax, which set aside 25 percent of state funds for education and provided schools with money depending on their enrollment. During the 1850s, it became a St. Louis school tradition for students at each school to “go a Maying”, which was to take an excursion into the countryside.[29] These early field trips were more for recreation than for learning, but school administrators regarded them as healthy trips.

School closed six weeks early in 1861 due to a lack of operating funds and the outbreak of the Civil War. After the Civil War, in 1866, the district opened three schools for African American students.

The St. Louis Public Schools also opened the first public high school for black students west of the Mississippi, Sumner High School, in 1875.

St. Louis Public Schools opened the first public kindergarten in North America in 1873 under the direction of William Torrey Harris, then Superintendent of Schools, and Susan Blow, who had studied the methods of Friedrich Fröbel, the founder of the kindergarten system.

By the end of the 19th century, the district had 95 schools and employed more than 1,600 teachers. (Wikipedia)

— Steve Patterson

 

Design for Lucas Park Unveiled 110 Years Ago Today

March 26, 2018 Featured, History/Preservation, Parks Comments Off on Design for Lucas Park Unveiled 110 Years Ago Today

It was one hundred ten years ago that St. Louis first saw plans for the Lucas Park sunken garden that sorta remains today: From STL250:

This Day in St. Louis History, March 26, 1908:
Plans unveiled for Lucas Park

North of the proposed Central Public Library, plans were unveiled for a “sunken garden” of rich green foliage. The site, along with the site of the Central Library, had formerly been occupied by the massive St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall, which was the premiere space for large scale events in St. Louis from 1883-1907. It had hosted the St. Louis Symphony, three national nominating conventions, and was one of he first buildings in the United States to have electric lights. When it was razed, the entire site had been left below ground and the idea for a sunken park space was developed. Lucas Park still occupies this space, just north of the Central Library at Olive Street between 13th and 14th Streets.

“This photo shows Lucas Park as seen in 1920, with Christ Church Cathedral and the rear of the St. Louis Public Library to the right. The large sign that says “Velvet” is now the site of the curving Shell Building. Missouri History Museum Archives. Swekosky Collection.”

 

The 1908 plans were not the first public park on the site, from an old city website I saved:

Lucas Garden was the site of a brick house built by Judge Lucas in 1820 facing the present St. Charles Street or King’s Road, as it was called. There is still a flowing spring in the Public Library basement that was the water supply for the Judge’s home.

“Desirous of contributing to the ornament and health of the City of St. Louis and at the same time to establish a permanent monument to the memory of his ancestor (father) the late Honorable John B. C. Lucas, in the shape of a public square bearing his name,” reads the deed signed by James H. and Marie E. Lucas on March 24, 1857, giving the block of land immediately north of the St. Louis Public Library to St. Louisians. The deed states further that, “This conveyance is however made with the express condition, to wit: that said public square shall forever be maintained as a public promenade for the inhabitants of the City of St. Louis.”

On the same day in 1857 that he signed the deed on Lucas Garden, James H. Lucas sold the block where the Public Library now stands to the city for the sum of $95,000.

In 1859, a board of improvement for the park was created and its development started.

Its layout caused Locust Street to be closed at 13th and the park was given an asymmetrical plan with a bandstand near the foot of Lucas Place. Sale of the buildings at the southwest corner of the park was authorized by Ordinance in 1872. From the time of the first appropriation in 1858 to 1877, $41,465 was spent on it.

The entire 6.25 acres was named Missouri Park and provided popular downtown breathing space until the erection of the St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall in 1883. Licensed to a private corporation for a period of 50 years, the ground was restored to use as a park in 1907 and designs for the Italian Renaissance inspired library building were drawn up by the famous architect Cass Gilbert. The library was completed in 1912.

Locust Street was reopened behind the Library from 13th to 14th Streets and the present sunken garden with its fountain was developed. (source)

The 1875 Compton & Dry map shows the park 8 years before the St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall was built on the block.

 

Since the formal 1908 plan the park has retained the original feel, but lost considerable detail.

1960, source unknown

For example, the reflecting pool & fountain were recently filled in.

Lucas Park March 2014

Hopefully we’ll eventually put back lost details like the center fountain, I’m not holding my breath though…

— Steve Patterson

 

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