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Compton Hill Reservoir Park: A Century of the Naked Truth

May 27, 2014 Featured, History/Preservation, Parks, South City No Comments

St. Louis is rich with history from many immigrant groups over the last 250 years, including Germans. A century ago they unveiled a sculpture in the Compton Hill Reservoir Park:

The statue called “The Naked Truth,” designated a city landmark in 1969, was controversial before it was even built. It is a memorial to Dr. Emil Preetorius, Carl Schurz and Carl Daenzer, German-American editors of the St. Louis Westliche Post. Adolphus Busch was the major donor, giving $20,000 of the $31,000 cost.

A jury selected a design by sculptor Wilhelm Wandschneider of Berlin. Busch was appalled by the jury’s selection and the controversy over the nudity in the statue prompted great debates. The sculptor refused Busch’s request that the figure be draped.

The jury voted 14 to 12 to accept the original design but said the nude figure should be made of a material other than white marble, to de-emphasize the nudity. The figure is made of bronze.

The statue is a nude figure of a woman seated on a stone bench with arms outstretched, holding torches. The figure symbolizes “Truth” and the torches are for the “enlightenment of Germany and the United States.” The figure of Truth is of bronze in heroic size. The eyes are painted as in some bronze figures of the Greeks and as in many modern German statues. The inscription on the back of the shaft in incised lettering expressing the devotion of German-American citizens to the country of their adoption. This inscription is repeated in German.

The memorial was a gift to St Louis by the German-American Alliance and was unveiled on May 27, 1914.

On the right is The Naked Truth sculpture, unveiled 100 years ago today. Photo date May 19, 2012
On the right is “The Naked Truth” sculpture, unveiled 100 years ago today. Photo date May 19, 2012

Behind the sculpture is the water tower, one of three in St. Louis, one of seven in the county. The tower is open for tours ($5) on the following dates:

2014 Saturday Openings are scheduled:
Open from Noon to 4pm

  • June 7th
  • July 5th
  • August 2nd
  • September 6th
  • October 4th
  • November 1st

2014 Full Moon Openings are scheduled:

  • Friday, June 13th, 5:30pm to Midnight
  • Saturday, July12th, 5:30pm to Midnight
  • Sunday, August 10th, 5:30pm to Midnight
  • Tuesday, September 9th, 5:30pm to 11pm
  • Wednesday, October 8th, 5:30pm to 10pm
  • Thursday, November 6th, 5:30pm to 9pm

For more information see the Water Tower & Park Preservation Society.

— Steve Patterson


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