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.”

Old Post Office & Custom House

The Old Post Office & Custom House was established in Saint Louis right after the Civil War because Saint Louis was one of the five fastest growing cities in the nation.  Hundreds of millions of pieces of mail were were handled in the very first year . . . and each of those pieces were taken care of by hand.  This beautiful building also housed the Federal 8th Circuit Court, which became the largest circuit in the nation.  One of the most famous cases in the 8th Circuit Court was the breakup of Standard Oil in 1909.

Old Post Office & Custom House

By Piaget, HABS photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Alfred B. Mullet designed this building in 1872, including new systems developed after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  There was heating, ventilation, and a way to use plenty of natural lighting.  When the foundation was being created, quicksand was discovered, so over 4,000 pine trees were stuck deep into the land and a four foot thick concrete slab was laid over the top.  Even today there are no cracks in the foundation.

Across from the plaza garden is the Old Post OfficeSince fire was a concern, the entire structure was built of cast iron, using wood only for hand-railing on the grand stair cases.

St. Louis, MOWhen i first arrived in St. Louis there was public interest in saving (or re-purposing)  this historic building.  There sure were plenty of ideas, and it’s taken some time, but now it is open to the public and used for plenty of great things.

Old Post Office Public LibraryI enjoy the “Quick Stop” branch of the public library. Peace and Vigilance with Eagle - “Peace and Vigilance with Eagle” by Daniel Chester French sits smack in the middle of the building, it’s worth the walk inside.  There is also a small museum that’s interesting. Grand Staircase, Old Post Office and Custom House St. LouisThe grand stairwell. Old Post Office and Custom House - tippy-top The “other side” of the building.100_2117Here is a current list of “tenants:”  Webster University,
Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District
St. Louis Business Journal
St. Louis Public Library
FOCUS St. Louis
Missouri Attorney General
Missouri Secretary of State
Teach For America
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
Missouri Arts Council

The Water Tower

The Water Tower on Grand Avenue is so well know, businesses are named after it, directions are given using the Water Tower as a reference, it is on the National Historic Registry and, even though it sits in a neighborhood called “College Hill,”  most people refer to it as “The Water Tower District.”

Water Tower on North Grand Ave, St. Louis, MO

 My initial visits to the Water Tower District was to meet and help a remarkable gentleman, Otis Woodard.  He served the community, the poorest of the poor, the people who had been cast out, thrown away by society.  Otis had a cupboard open to anyone, on the side of his home and he had a sound system set up so he could hear anyone outside crying.  If he heard someone in need, or distress, day or night, he would go outside to help and comfort them.  He provided transportation for those with jobs, so they could get safely to work and home again and he found ways to help new, or expecting mothers, even offering lessons on cooking, raising and nurturing a family.

You can understand that Water Tower means way more than meets the eye.  It was the easy way to find Otis.   To me, that Water Tower speaks of Hope and a Future.

 Otis has since left us, but he leaves behind a legacy, showed us a way, provided us with “Peace Park.”  at anytime we can choose to follow his example.  (Here is a little more of Otis, just because.)

If you choose to listen to Otis, you might hear a little about how this area holds infinite treasures of the heart (did you notice the water tower in the background?).  I’ll continue to share a little about the Water Tower ItSelf.  I read some stories about how water pressure was a life changer in the 1800’s.  It’s something I did not consider, things like being able to get water to fight a fire, or be amazed when you could soak your entire body in a bathtub.

George Barnett, once considered the “Dean of St. Louis Architecture,” built the Water Tower in 1871.  It served to regulate water pressure until 1912.  For a while a light was placed on top of the tower to direct air craft.  Eventually the community decided it was important to restore the tower, it was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

Somehow this tower means more, in the hearts of humans, than first glance would tell us.

Were you going to ask?  It is 154 feet tall.  It is pretty, but maybe the beauty comes from . . . well, you can tell me.  Okay?

Higher Hopes symbolized by that Water Tower

Water Tower, intersection of Grand Avenue and 20th Street, College Hill neighborhood, St. Louis, Missouri

Hope Plaza

Ellen S. Clark Hope Plaza is one of the jewels in my everyday life.  I pass this enchanting place several times a year on the way to medical appointments.  I am always grateful to find this pond.  Doesn’t matter what the weather is like, this place always offers comfort, hope and peace to the people passing by.  It is part of BJC Institute of Health at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.  Studies, Students, Medical Miracles and Advances are found inside the surrounding buildings. – When the new expansion was planned, this bit of art and natural wonder was created and placed right where all of us would discover it and be lifted in spirit.

a place to heal, a place to be lifted

The summer resident ducks aren’t here today, but a sense of calm and people with smiles are always close.  In winter, the Pond is covered with a thick layer of ice and the walk way will have packed snow.  In fact, it doesn’t seem to matter what time of year, there is always stunning beauty in this place.

Hope Plaza - Pond and the doors to higher education

Hope Plaza is dedicated to Ellen S. Clark, a well loved and respected woman who encouraged others to be their very best.  She inherited a rare condition that took her life.  She worked tirelessly to offer education and understanding about stem cell research.  Even after she’d left this life, her family made sure her work continued.

Ellen S. Clark and her husband worked with designers to offer this gorgeous memorial.  Two of the most recognized artists are Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Andrew Gutterman of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. of Boston.  There is an eighty foot diameter Infinity Pool, with water flowers in season, ice in its proper time, ducks when they decide to attend, trees and . . Hope.

“It’s designed to be a calm place of refuge in the midst of a bustling medical center,” said Hank S. Webber, an executive vice chancellor at Washington University.

a place of peace

Ellen S. Clark Hope Plaza, 320 S, Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110

You don’t need to have an appointment to visit.  Get off metrolink at the Central West End, walk up the flight of stairs on the west end of the platform and turn right.  You’ll be satisfied with the side trip.

Be Well

Soldier’s Memorial Military Museum

Honestly felt dwarfed and out of my league with this adventure to the Soldier’s Memorial Military Museum.  If there is something specific you would like me to go back and learn or find, post a comment or send a message and I’ll do my best.  

Solider's Memorial, St. Louis, MO

The facility could use some financial aid towards repair, but it is still one gorgeous building that reminds us of Life, Integrity, Sacrifice and Honor.    It’s as if a concert about Promise and the Lives Given to keep it were perfectly frozen in time for all of us to stand inside, in speechless respect.

let’s take a walk about.

 The building is perfect.  Walking around, sensing the Glory prepares us for the treasury of story we will find inside.The entry is open and inviting.  Slowly we begin to understand why we are here.

We choose to enter the east room first.

Lots of display items share this space.

One display celebrates Woodrow E. White.  He served as a Topographer in WWII.  He not only made great maps, he also delighted family and friends with his sense of artistic humor.  His family shared snippets from letters he sent.  He served in the Army from March 28th, 1941 to Nov. 15th, 1945.

There is a wall inside a reception area with information and invites for veterans.  It looks like people offer and/or find help.

Tips, Information and Invites for All veterans.  Soldiers Memorial Military Museum

Tips, Information and Invites for All Veterans.

In the western room:


 That Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon was invented in 1870.  It was fired using a hand crank.  It could fire sixty to eighty rounds per minute and cover a distance of two and a half miles.  It was used against small, rapid boats.

Barnes field hospital

British Cap Badges and Buttons collected in WWI by medical personnel

Here is a story I liked.  Medical teams from Barnes Hospital, served a base hospital in Rouen, France in WWI.  These are collections of British cap badges and buttons that were collected.

Civil War?  In 1861 Benton Barracks was the largest Civil War Training Camp in St. Louis.  The land it occupied sits just a few blocks from Soldier’s Memorial.  It was a Union camp.

Benton Barracks, 1861 Union Training Camp

There was quite a scandal, in 1863, when it was discovered that medical discharges could be purchased from the “right doctor” at Benton Barracks Hospital  for $50.

Civil War, Soldiers Memorial Military Museum

Civil War

There is a very special display at the Soldier’s Memorial Military Museum in recognition of the Gold Star Mothers.  The last Sunday of September was designated their “special day” in 1936, before the end of WWII.  Now this group is called Gold Star Survivors.  These people remind us “Freedom is Not Free.”

open, Soldiers Memorial Military Museum