Monday, May 30, 2016

Beautiful Day in Benton Park

It was a Gorgeous Saturday.  I was out the door early, but – not early enough.  “The Garden” was surrounded by parking guards, whose job was keeping an overflow of vehicles from the lot.  Tower Grove Park was already wall to wall people.  It was time to find some quiet.  So, this week,  the learning curve of a new camera begins at Benton Park.
I really like the Benton Park neighborhood.  It’s diverse, sweet to the eye and their history is rich with every kind of city story possible.  (and, I do mean, this part of St. Louis proper goes back to rowdier days.)  Someday I’ll take you for a cuppa and share stories, but today we’ll simply stroll around the park.
 Benton Park covers a little more than 14 acres.
There are two man made lakes, a recreation building, playground, plenty of paths and nice places to sit and enjoy the day.

 Okay, look at this fabulous – I don’t even know what to call it:
There’s a grassy field, a few picnic benches, and this cool looking place.  I wonder if they hold concerts here?

There’s another beautiful pond on the other side.
During early-ish 1800’s expansion of St. Louis, land from the city commons was set aside for parks, including Benton Park.  A small portion of this land was already fenced off as a cemetery.  But, in 1865 a city ordinance was passed and all remains were relocated.
Originally this was called “City Park.”  It was renamed to honor Thomas Hart Benton, the first U.S. Senator representing Missouri.

Circling back around, there’s a memorial to Freidrich Hecker, a German-American Hero.  When the monument was officially installed, over 15,000 people attended the ceremony.

Plenty of celebrations are held at Benton Park.  The two that look interesting to me this year are the 150th Birthday Party on June 25th (2016,) and August 13th, we are invited to “Gospel In The Park.”    If it turns out to be great music, I might have to show up.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lime Kiln

The answer to my “What is that?” outburst was, “It is a Lime Kiln.”
 Forest and ferns all around and this tall 
chimney-ish whatever in the woods.  
Missouri is full of surprises.
I traveled out towards Wildwood, which used to seem far away, and used to be one of my favorite places.  Now the road is store after store all the way out to a new college and shopping center.  
I saw a sign directing me to some woods
 and decided it would be a refreshing view.
I wondered if this was what the land looked like to early settlers, or maybe natives.  It sure seemed a good setting for a movie.
Turns out there was more to find than my performing arts fantasy.  This place is called Rockwoods Reservation.  Trying to find out what, exactly the name means is fun.  The land is cared for by the Missouri Department of Conservation.  I sent them a question, they were kind enough to respond, but it was the same information on the print outs posted on the rules, regulation and information sign.

“Rockwoods” must have come from the trees and limestone rocks found everywhere you step.  “Reservation” is a bit challenging, no natives live there, perhaps it’s being held for some other purpose, someday.
This beautiful land was a place trappers walked through in the 1700’s to get to the new settlement of Saint Louis to sell fur.  In the 1800’s Ninian Hamilton received a Spanish Land Grant and built a home for his family.  Eventually mineral resources were discovered on the land and  Glencoe Mining Company took ownership in the 1850’s.  It took massive amounts of wood to burn limestone rock – into powder.  There is a list of things limestone powder is used for, the one I remember best was mortar in brick homes.  The land was stripped bare before the company went broke.

There are several Lime Kilns to be found along the trail.  They are 40 feet high.  The thick walls have bolts in them to allow expansion when rocks became super hot.  Fires burned every day, and men would come to pull the powder out from the mouth of these huge structures.

In 1938 St. Louis County began taking care of the land.  
It took 70 years for the beautiful forest I admired to grow. 
 Speaks highly of Nature’s Design, hm?
there’s fencing to encourage people to be safe
 here’s a bench – a little place to rest – and consider

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dog Museum

The Dog Museum is a Fine Arts Gallery.
In the 1970’s people interested in creating a national museum dedicated to art and books about “man’s best friend.” The idea continued to inspire people and in 1973 the American Kennel Club sent out a survey, asking dog enthusiasts what they thought of the idea.  In 1981 William Secord became the first director of The Dog Museum of America. It’s original home was in New York City, but soon there was a need for more space and the entire collection moved to Saint Louis County.
The Dog Museum is located in the historic Jarville House, built in 1853, which sits on the far side of Queeny Park, away from the main entrance.  The view is breathtaking.  I suspect many beautiful events take place on the grounds, and in the building.
Dogs are allowed in the Dog Museum.  I visited on a week day.  It was relatively quiet.  I met friendly people who wanted to share stories of pets and favorite dogs they’ve known.
 When it comes to stories, the Dog Museum shares plenty of them.  There is an entire wing dedicated to service dogs, canine police officers, and canine war heroes.  It’s inspiring, and if you’re like me, you might need a moment to wipe away a tear or two.

There’s plenty of quirky stuff, contemporary works, some fiber art, I got a photo of a foot stool . 

There’s formal work, oils, water color, portraits of champions, loved companions gracing walls, in cases.  The literature says it’s one of the largest collections in the world.

The museum is home to the Hope A. Levy Memorial Library which holds thousands of publications.  I peeked in, the room is inviting, i didn’t dare venture inside, or I might still be there today.

The Museum holds regular events, programs for young people, weekly talks about different breeds, and training events.

I enjoyed my time there.

1721 South Mason Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63131

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

Monday, March 21, 2016

Henry Shaw

Henry Shaw is the person who gave us the property that became Our Gorgeous Botanical Garden.
 Henry Shaw was born in Sheffield, United Kingdom, July 24th,1800.  He attended Mill Hill School in London as long as his parents could afford to send him.  Then he traveled with his father for business.
Henry proved to be good at business and when challenges came up it was often Henry Shaw to the rescue.
Henry traveled from New Orleans to the little French Village of St. Louis in 1819.  He decided to stay and establish a business of his own.  Henry’s uncle, James Hoole, gave the support needed to start a hardware business.  Henry Shaw turned out to be a great investment.
Henry Shaw; from a watercolor painting at the Missouri Botanical Garden, by permission of the Director.
His business outfitted pioneers traveling westward. By the time he was forty Henry Shaw was one of the largest landowners in St. Louis. He began to travel and explore his interest in botany.

In 1851, he commissioned George I. Barnett to build his homes.  One of them is the “Tower Grove House,”  pictured here.
 Shaw dedicated land around his home toward the study of botany.  The garden became so extensive He opened it to the public in 1859.

 Henry Shaw died August 25th, 1889.  He left a legacy of beauty, education and hope for everyone to enjoy.

Our garden is one of my favorite places.  I hope you have a chance to visit in person someday.  People come from all over the world for research.  Countless gatherings, classes, exhibits, cooking demonstrations are offered BUT, for me the best part is wandering the grounds, soaking in the beauty.

.  One frigid afternoon, I zoomed from a college class in time to meet a lady with a passion for tree trunks.  We were freezing, looking at variations in tree trunks.  Trees have never looked the same to me.  I do NOT recommend punishing yourself like that – BUT, I have developed a healthy respect for trees ever since.
“Shaw’s Garden” – Day Before Spring

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Snow Day

Today is a Snow Day.  This means school will be cancelled – 
 all of us children-at-heart can celebrate.

 The storm was expected.  First it rained, and the wind blew some kind of fierce, which was marvelous because my puppy cuddled really close to keep us safe and warm.  Then, the rain turned to heavy, wet snow.  It’s beautiful because it clings to the trees, and weighs them down, making for the excellent view.  It’s a challenge for city living because the roads are slick and power lines are compromised by the weight.

My pupster was delighted.   She ran, leaped, tasted, pranced and wagged until she needed a break.  Right now she’s napping.  i don’t know if she’s dreaming of her next romp. I do know she is happy.  Snow day means she gets to play in her all time favorite kind of weather – with her mom – because – well, that’s what “Snow Day” means around here, Mom stays home all day to play.

  Here’s the kind of folk my puppy would enjoy.  It’s interesting how every community handles winter weather.  Washington University gives lots of good tips.  This is great because students arrive here from all over the world and may have never seen snow before.

Either way, it’s sure pretty out my door.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Re-purposed – Church to Moosylvania

There is a wonderful movement to re-purpose great places instead of tearing them down.  One of the niftiest sights in Maplewood, MO is Moosylvania.
 Perhaps you remember the “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” from long ago (in this era of nostalgia TV, the program continues to be enjoyed and has won awards – but, that’s another matter altogether.)   Moosylvania became a place because, before moving to “Frostbite Falls, Minnesota” to have adventures with his pal, Rocket J. Squirrel, Bullwinkle lived in Moosylvania, Lake In The Woods Island, and was the mayor there.

I’m not sure Bullwinkle, or any of his kin live in Maplewood, BUT I am certainly thrilled to see this terrific advertising doing well.
 Creative people get inspired and make the world a better place.  They find opportunity when others see challenge, like children, they bring a fresh perspective and, if something doesn’t go as planned, they take a breath and try again.  Oh yes, the thought of these “Moosy People” – settling into “my” neck of the woods, makes me happy.

Once a church, this beautiful facility has been housing these people of vision since 2003.

Steve Jobs Said:

“Creativity is just connecting things.  When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilt because they didn’t really do it, They just saw something.  It seemed obvious to them after a while.  That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things”

(thank you, Huffington Post)

Moosylvania – 7303 Marietta Ave. – Maplewood, MO 63143