Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Legacy of Lions

I started to wonder why University City, Missouri has a Legacy of Lions.  Lions are seen on banners.  Lion Statues grace columns greeting people entering the city.  I’m certain no wild lions pad the streets causing concern, equally certain no one has been eaten by a lion, so it was time for me to ask around.
banners hanging from street lights, signs and stickers representing University City feature lions
 
The world class artist, George Julian Zolnay was appointed director of the art department of the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition for the World’s Fair of 1904.  His work became so popular he became director of the Art Institute in University City, Missouri in 1909.

One of his majestic creations was the “Gates of Opportunity.”  There were two columns standing on either side of Delmar Avenue.  Each Column towered forty feet high and each column supported a big cat.  There was a lion atop one and lioness on the other.

Unfortunately, it was all too heavy and began to tilt.  In 1989 the lions were recast in a modern polymer concrete and placed on top of fourteen foot columns.
 The “Gates of Opportunity” were commissioned by Edward Gardener Lewis. Mr. Lewis was the founder of University City, a Big Dreamer and, possibly one of the most colorful people of his day . . . (or any other, but that’s another story.)

Lions guard every entrance of the City Hall (once the Magazine Building)

 In 1999, Bob Cassilly (founder of City Museum) created the “Musical Lion Benches.
 One plays horn, one plays lute. You can visit them (have a seat and feel the concert) – at City Hall at Delmar & Trinity – University City, Missouri
Edward Gardener Lewis and  George Julian Zolnay surely would rejoice at the many ways their efforts ave continued to inspire residents and visitors alike for so many generations.  Their efforts have caused people to come together, share ideas, not only about public art, but about ways to create a sense of community.

They have left us a Legacy of Lions


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