Shrine & Grottos

Black Madonna Shrine & Grottos is an example of what one man can do.

Shrine & GrottosReady?  Let’s begin a walking tour of the Shrine & Grottos.

In 1927, Cardinal Glennon invited Franciscan Brothers from Poland to emigrate and establish a nursing home.  One of these monks was Brother Bronislaus Luszcz.

Madonna in Poland

Growing up in Poland, Bronislaus saw pilgrims honor Mary, Queen of Peace and Mercy.  People traveled to visit the shrine at Jasna Gora.  This monastery and shrine has been a spiritual capital for hundreds of years. People come to commune with the Holy.  There is an icon, a beautiful work of art, that inspires many.  It is known as “The Black Madonna.”   As a young man, Bronislaus embraced a great love and devotion for Mary.  He brought this love to Missouri.

In 1937 Br. Bronislaus began his labor of love

 Missouri offers scrubby, dense forests of oak, walnut, hickory and sycamore trees packed together over limitless rolling hills.  The land can be overgrown with shrubs and inhabited with countless wild creatures.  Clearing the land was a major task.

 Bronislaus built a cedar chapel and placed a painting of Our Lady above the altar.  Soon the chapel offered prayer services.  It became a devotional center.  People came from great distances to visit.

One Sunday evening in 1958 an arsonist set the alter on fire.  The brothers did their best but the blaze consumed the chapel.

Okay, let’s walk about the Shrine & Grottos

Shrine & GrottosCross the bridge and look back.  There’s a quick view of the open air chapel.

It’s an odd thing to see the last part first.  In 1960, Br. Bronislaus suffered heat stroke.  His final project was this grotto in honor of Our Lady of Fatima.  This is just west of the bridge.

Shrine & GrottosOur Lady of Fatima

beginning Our WalkaboutThe Bridge.

The grottos are built by hand.  No power tools, no help.  Native rock, from Old Mines, MO, seas shells and costume jewelry were donated by visitors and sent from foreign missions.

First Grotto, St. FrancisSt. Francis Grotto

There are figurines of tiny creatures, sparkly bits, statues of bunnies, turtles are other creatures all around this grotto.

Up a hill, our next grotto is to honor Joseph.

Faith Filled EnchantmentSt. Joseph

Grottos created by hand

taking one moment

The statues where made by artist Charles Bendel, May 1, 1890 – Feb. 24, 1978.  He immigrated from Czechoslovakia and made his home in St. Louis, MO.  It is said his favorite is a small work of a boy and his dog.

Charles Bendel, artist

Return to Walk About

grotto honoring Lady of Perpetual HelpLady of Perpetual Help

Following along the path the entire story begins to unfold . . .

" . . pray with me for one hour?"Colored glass bits in the roof – so sunlight light shines on our sleeping friends.

Garden & The Cross Hikers find their way in winter because they can see this cross.

Original Monastery StoneOur Lady of Sorrows

Br. Bronislaus built and rebuilt this grotto.  It isn’t as fancy as the others.  The white inlaid wall is from the original monastery chapel.  Originally a picture was displayed instead of this statue.

plenty of storiesThere are plenty of stories about people misbehaving over the years.  Drunks smashing cars through walls, vandals do mischief.  Still this place is a marvel.

Assumption Grotto

follow the pathfollow the path

Assumption Hill

Up the Hill - Mother’s Sanctuary – Up the Hill – above the Grottos we’ve already visited

pool with gold fish and peaceful quietIt’s quiet up here.

One more story:

Happy Birthday StoryThe Happy Birthday Story.

I figure it’s time to go home now.

Shrine & Grottos -100 St. Joseph Hill Rd. Pacific, MO.

Summer Hours: daily 9-7 – Off Season Hours: 9-4 – (Call to verify) Phone:636-938-5361

see ya later.

love & love,


“The King Of Horror”

Vincent Leonard Price, Jr. – known as “The King of Horror”  was born May 27, 1911 in St. Louis, MO.

"King Of Horror"

Vincent Price in Laura trailer Created: 31 December 1943 – Public Domain

His performing career spanned across every imaginable genre.  He was at home of stage, screen, recording studio and radio.  Vincent price has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  One is for television and one for film.  He has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame, too.

Plenty of Stars and Credits for Performance, but there was much more to The King of Horror.

Vincent was an art collector.  He purchased his first Rembrandt when he was twelve.  He saved his allowance for a year to own that first piece.  It was the beginning of a life long interest in art.  He opened a gallery in Beverly Hills, California in the 1940’s.  He became a well respected collector, and helped establish the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park, California.  The first teaching art collection owned by a community college in the United States.

Gourmet Cook

Vincent Price was recognized as a gourmet cook.  He hosted “Cooking Pricewise” – a cooking television program.  Once he demonstrated how to poach fish in a dish washer on late night TV with Johnny Carson.  He also authored several cookbooks, including, “Come Into the Kitchen” and “A Treasury of Great Recipes.”

Limitless List of Work

We may remember him best as “The King of Horror.” but his body of work includes every kind of quality performance.  He gave us comedy, bible stories, and even gave his voice to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

I remember him from “The Monster Mash.”

One Classy Gentleman.

A man who limits his interests limits his life.’ – Vincent Price.


Stacked Stone

  It’s stacked stone, sitting on a sliver of land between a busy road and enormous parking lot.

art installation st louis moPerhaps it was a treasured piece of history.

art installation st louis moI imagine, it was a primitive dwelling.

urban concrete art installation st louis moAfter a while I decided to research.

art instalation sculpture park stlI was familiar with some of the regional things I found.  I’d seen photos of ancient houses in other parts of the world.  Then, I learned about monumental structures of dry stacked stone all over the world.

art installation stl mo sculpture parkZimbabwe was a treasure to me because, education about Africa has been challenging to get

art installation adjacent to parking lot stl moThere is a sculpture park across the road.  Listed information about their pieces explained about this sculpture.

The installation, created by Richard Fleischer, using a technique he calls “Brutalist Urban Concrete.”  Reminding us of Skara Brae in Scotland.  I requested information about the stacked stone house.  It seems I’m the only person thinking I see something resembling early architecture.

“the work consists of 5 elements, one of which is the wedge-shaped gabled structure.”

I imagined a teeny treasure of local history.  It’s a “wedge-shaped gabled structure.”  Made of Urban Concrete.


Stacked Stone?  Early Historic Treasure?

nope.  I was wrong.  I imagined a family began humbly.  It’s artistic expression.

actually modern artistic expression  Learning about human family and ancient stacked stone tradition – interests me.

Oh, the wall?

art installation stl mo“Sit, Don’t Climb.”

Center for Home Gardening

I like to pretend the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening is my home.

Missouri Botanical Garden Kemper Center The outside is nice.  The entire Center for Home Gardening is on 8.5 Acres.  There are countless projects to see, plenty of ideas to try in your own garden.  Specially trained Master Gardeners are on duty to answer questions.  There is a walk-in Plant Doctor service . . Honest!  if you bring in a sample from your ailing plant. an expert will help with information, tips and advice.  There are classes and oodles of free pamphlets filled with information about anything garden.

This is NOT why I pretend, tough.

There’s a Great Room that always sparks my imagination.

Cozy Corner in the Kemper CenterCozy corner especially nice in winter.  It’s peaceful and quiet on any kind of day.  (But, warming by the fire on a chill day is excellent.)

Missouri Botanical Garden Kemper CenterThe walls are windows all around.  Plants preferring different types of light teach us their sunlight preferences.

Center for Home GardeningHere are some morning sun plant-people.

Center for Home Gardening North WindowHere is the North Window.  Do you suppose these plants yearn for winter?

Look!  A Tree Living Inside!

Happy Evergreen Lives Insideisn’t this wonderful?  A little forest tree, right inside.

West Window Home Garden CenterHere are plants happier to see the sun set.  (West Window)

Center for Home GardeningFacing South, these are mostly cactus-plants.

Outside, there are lots of home gardening ideas.  before we set outside, let’s check out the tree once more . . .

Center for Home Gardening‘bye for now, baby tree!

Center for Home Gardening Outside Ideas

Center for Home GardeningJust stepping out the front door, water features, plantings, in pots or yard, gathering spaces . . .once there was an entire section dedicated to planting around mailboxes.  It was festive.

Center for Home GardeningThere are ideas for urban living.  Here’s an outdoor kitchen and entertaining area.

Center for Home GardeningComplete with Grill

Center for Home GardeningHere’s a peek at a teeny urban garden.  There’s seating, a water feature, statuary, super cool trees.  The possibility of a quiet paradise in the middle of crowded city spaces.  (click on photo for expanded view)

Let’s begin walking towards the front gate, okay?

Center for Home GardeningA shaded walk about allows protection for us and shade plants.

center for Home GardeningThese portals give inviting glimpses into other types of garden areas.  Does your yard look like this?

I’m ready to head home.

Missouri Botanical GardenLet’s pass the Chinese Garden along the way.

‘bye for now!


Conversations with Sleeping Heroes

Days of ceremony happen on occasion.  Flags fly high. Marching bands and parades fill the avenues.   Uniformed dignitaries  stroll to the stage to deliver a speech.  Most of the hours, days and years are quiet.  Good times to hold conversations with sleeping heroes.

Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery Ten acres were set aside by soldiers in 1826 for burial ground.  Elizabeth Ann Lash, infant daughter of an officer is the first recorded burial.

Jefferson Barracks National CemeteryIn March 1863, the U.S. Army established the Jefferson Barracks Post Cemetery.  The cemetery covers 310 acres.  The area sits on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.

Jefferson Barracks National CemeteryIn 1866, the Secretary of War designated the post cemetery as a national cemetery.  The Civil War brought remains of many fallen to rest.  In 1922 WW I Veterans required a medical center.  WW II required land from the military post for cemetery space.   Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery became a central location for group interments.  Sleeping Heroes, every kind, color and their limitless stories are here.

Jefferson Barracks National CemeteryEvery Row, from every angle – always straight.

chapel 7 - Jefferson Barracks cemetery spaces for gatherings

Surrounded - Protected - LovedThere are several shelters placed around the cemetery called “committal shelters.”  There are heroes, along with their spouses, from many different belief systems.  I like the regard for feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others I find here.  Many of these heroes did not know this respect and inclusiveness in their waking life.

Visiting Columbaria at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery

Jefferson Barracks National CemeteryI passed the word “Columbarium” a few times.  I admit I did not know understand until reaching a hill top.  It was such a lovely place, I decided to stroll around.

Columbarium - Jefferson Barracks National CemeteryThis part of the cemetery has newer dates.  There are nice places to rest and reflect.

Columbarium - jefferson Barracks National CemeteryIt feels good to listen to the breeze all around, and feel a sense of hope.

sleeping heroesQuiet and Comfort is built right in.  It’s as if we are welcome to sit a while.

Conversations with Sleeping Heroes

(some else has come to spend time)

conversations with sleeping heroes

Monuments honor different parts of the story.  There is a monument to Civil war dead, Confederate dead,  WW II, Korean War, Vietnam and the Gulf War..

There are memorials for War Unknowns.

There is a red granite boulder commemorating officers and soldiers who died at Fort Bellefontaine.

One of the older monuments is dedicated to 175 soldiers of the 56th U.S. Colored Infantry.

There is a monument by artist John K. Daniels to honor the 164 Minnesotan officers and soldiers buried at this national cemetery.

There are eight recipients of the Medal of Honor and three Revolutionary War veterans.

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Michael Blassie was shot down over South Vietnam.  His remains were sent to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.  After a DNA test, his parents asked to bring him home to Jefferson Barracks.

The stories seem to continue forever.

stories to last forever

Time for Soul Lifting

It was time for a bit of soul lifting, I headed to the Soulard Art Gallery.

Artists Gather for a little soul liftingSoulard is an old neighborhood.  The name comes from Antione Soulard, who helped develop the area.  There’s a lot of brick, and churches, and bars, and celebrations.  It’s super close to “The River.”   Soulard is also a great place to find artists.  On this particular “break away day”  I choose to visit the Soulard Art Gallery.

Soulard Art GalleryResident Artists welcome every visitor.  There’s always a display of art from regional artists.   Each Resident Artist has a mini gallery.  There’s plenty of color, texture and new views.  Each gallery has it’s own style, look and feel.  It’s a bit like visiting worlds of wonder.

Looking is okay, purchasing encouraged. – Prices fit almost every budget.  You’ll be offer a beverage.  There are invitations to upcoming exhibits.   Say anything nice and an artist will reward you with a bright smile.

Soulard Art Gallery – 2028 S 12th Street – 63104

On to the “The Grove”

Onion Rings and a Coke – seems like terrific transition snack for a wanderer like me.  “The Grove”  has become one of the most fabulous, colorful neighborhoods in St. Louis.  I was passing through around early lunch-ish time, so energy was quiet, and a little low.

onion rings and a coke at O'Shays O’Shays is friendly.  They offer a hearty Sunday Brunch with plenty of choices.  All of their food is prepared in house.  They don’t mind if you’re a light weight and only order onion rings an a coke.  The Irish eye twinkle is easy enough to see. No matter what’s goin’ on in the world.  An Irish Pub can make it better.

Oshay’s Pub – 44353 Manchester Ave. – St. Louis, MO – 63110

Fabulous Part of the City - The GroveHope All is Well with YOU

Old Stone Church – Faith Des Peres

There’s a little rock church, once called “The Old Meeting House” by early settlers, was the original home of Faith Des Peres, a Presbyterian Church in Des Peres, Missouri.  Elijah P. Lovejoy was one of the early ministers here.  Rev. Dr. Anne Epling is their minister today.  I got to meet her leaving the Original Stone Faith Des Peres.  The congregation continues to hold services right here a couple of times a year – Memorial Day Sunday happened to be one of those days.  I met three people packing up to leave, all of them kind and delightful.  I’m tempted to visit their current, modern facility . . but, that’s another story.

Original stone church, built 1833In 1833, three families donated one acre each for the meeting house which was to include a cemetery.  Many of the grave markers for families that go back many generations and still live in the area.

Faith Des Peres CemeteryIt’s interesting to know the people donating this land were slave owners, because there are stories about “The Old Stone Meeting House” was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Faith Des Peres CemeteryThere is a sign on property sharing part of the story.  In 1983 one small marker was placed to memorialize those who worked for others and were never free.

slave burial marker, Old Stone Meeting House Cemeteryone stone for many lives

Faith Des PeresThe facility has been restored.  It hasn’t been an easy road over the years.  It wasn’t always top priority to maintain an old stone structure, but the building lasted long enough for the 1970’s enthusiasm of a new minister, Rev. Robert W. Tabscott.  Rev. Tabscott had a passion for historical preservation, diversity and a better quality of life.  He inspired many in the congregation to save the Original Old Stone Meeting House, and it seems that project, along with many others has remained part of the foundation of their church community.

air conditioning, electric lights, up to code and ready for the future.Air conditioning, electric lights, up to code and ready for the future., Faith Des Peres has offered all of us a hearty welcome and invitation to attend services, at the little stone church, or at their modern facility.  I have the feeling it’s a fine place to be.

The Original Stone Meeting House/Faith Des Peres Church is found @ 2250 North Geyer Road, 63131 – (Memorial Day Weekend, Labor Day Weekend, 1st Sundays of July and August – perhaps other fun events, like Easter Egg Hunts)


11155 Clayton Road 63131 (on “Normal Sundays”)

10:30 AM (but, you might want to check – 314-432-8029)

I suspect the music will be great.

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.

Pathway into Benton ParkI 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.

First of two Manmade Ponds in Benton Park, St Louis, MOBenton Park covers a little more than 14 acres.

Benton Park, St. Louis MO There are two man made lakes, a recreation building, playground, plenty of paths and nice places to sit and enjoy the day.

Kids Count, Benton Park, St. Louis, MOOkay, look at this fabulous – I don’t even know what to call it:

Benton Park, St Louis, MOThere’s a grassy field, a few picnic benches, and this cool looking place.  I wonder if they hold concerts here?

Beautiful Pond, Benton ParkThere’s another beautiful pond on the other side.

Sit and Enjoy the day, Benton Park, St Louis, MODuring 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.

View, Benton ParkOriginally 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.

Benton Park, St. Louis, MOPlenty 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.

Lime Kiln

The answer to my “What is that?” outburst was, “It is a Lime Kiln.”

surprise in the woods, lime kilnForest and ferns all around and this tall chimney-ish whatever in the woods.  Missouri is full of surprises.

beautiful trees - beautiful forestI 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.

forest viewI wondered if this was what the land looked like to early settlers, or maybe natives.  It sure seemed a good setting for a movie.

more lime kilns along the trailTurns 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.

lime kiln remains in the forestThis 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?

lime kiln hidden in the forestthere’s fencing to encourage people to be safe

a place to sit and consider nature's besthere’s a bench – a little place to rest – and consider

Dog Museum

The Dog Museum is a Fine Arts Gallery.

Restored jarville House - originally built 1853In 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.

Facility upgraded in 1990'sThe 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.

Dog Museum DayDogs 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.

Dog MuseumWhen 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.

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

one of the largest collections of canine art in the worldThere’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.

St. Louis County. MO

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.

Above the Entrance to the Dog Museum1721 South Mason Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63131