Saturday, July 19, 2014

Tandy Park

Tandy Park is 1 of 111 St. Louis parks.  This 5.6 acre park was placed into ordinance in 1918 and is located at the corner of Kennerly and Billups Avenues in the shadow of Sumner High School and the former Homer G. Phillips Hospital in the Ville neighborhood:

The park was named in the honor of Captain Charlton H. Tandy.  Per the State Historical Society of Missouri, Tandy was born a free black man in Kentucky and went on to great things, serving in the Missouri Militia during the Civil War and a respected member of the Republican Party and civil rights activist.  Sounds like a great man:
Charlton H. Tandy was born to free black parents on December 16, 1836, in Lexington,Kentucky. Tandy Moved to St. Louis in 1857 and worked as a porter, coachman and waiter until the Civil War. He enlisted in Company B of the 13th regiment of the Missouri State Militia and at the end of the war, was honorably discharged as a captain In 1870 he was appointed a messenger in the U.S. Customs House, the first of eleven commissioned positions in federal, state and municipal government. 
Tandy was a persistent fighter for black civil rights and active in Republican politics. He helped establish Lincoln Institute (Lincoln University) in 1870, the first school of higher education for blacks in Missouri. He successfully worked to get black educators into the St.Louis public school system. In 1870 he organized a boycott against the segregated St. Louis streetcar lines and , after time in jail and litigation, integrated the streetcars. During the"Colored Exodus" from the South in 1879, he assisted 2, 000 refugees who were stranded inSt. Louis. Appearing before a U.S. Congressional committee he urged Congress to provide aid for these refugees and to investigate and stop the violation of Negro rights in the South.He was known as a great orator and spoke on behalf of many white politicians. A loyal Republican he did not hesitate to criticize the party for neglecting the needs of Negroes. Tandy organized Negro political clubs to encourage Negroes to vote, run for office and become involved in political parties. He predicted the decline of Republicans in St. Louis politics if they continued to ignore Negroes. His predictions came true. He died in September, 1919.

The park is in the heart of arguably the most historic black neighborhood in St. Louis.  Once home to a thriving black middle class, the Ville was quite a source of pride.  It is rough today a result of a 31% loss in population from 2000 to 2010; but, this neighborhood is not without its gems.  This park is one of them, and the setting that surrounds it is beautiful.  This is the most stable part of the Ville.

The park is in the shadow of Turner School (now closed), Sumner High School, the Annie Malone Children's Home and Homer G. Phillips Hospital, all beautiful buildings and works of art if you ask me.  While the hospital closed in 1979, it is now senior living apartments.

Although the vast majority of the housing stock in the Ville is run down and not maintained well or abandoned.  The homes directly north of the park illustrate this point.

But back to the park...this really is a nice combination of Sumner sports fields including the Tuskegee Airman Football Field (surrounded by a nice track), Arthur Ashe Tennis Courts

The park itself also has basketball courts, a skating rink (kind of rare, but not anomalous), a playground.

The park is home to the Tandy Recreation Center which was built in 1937/1938 and is on the National Register of Historic Places, just like Homer G. Phillips across the street.  It is operational to this day hosting tennis, boxing, zoomba, etc. for the community.

From the application for inclusion on the National Registry:

I would love to see the African-American community rally around this part of the city and instigate an effort to get a strong middle class back here.  The investment in the park in the shape of new street trees and a beautiful retaining wall along Kennerly Avenue brings hope.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hamilton Heights Park

Hamilton Heights Park is 1 of 111 St. Louis parks.  The city website does not have a location listed for the park, and it is not recognizable on google maps, etc.  There is no way to find this park unless you really dig.  The park doesn't even have the typical wood and white lettering park sign to identify it.  In fact, the only signage is at the playground which is dedicated to Margo Anderson.  You can read about her at the end of the post.

An anonymous person reached out to me to tell me that the park is located at the corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Clara Avenue in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood:

Unity Park is another park that is impossible to find online.  If anyone knows where it is, let me know.

This park is in an improving area just south of some really, really nice urban new construction just east on MLK Drive called Arlington Grove.  This is a great example of urban infill that is sensitive to its surroundings.

Let's hope Arlington Grove can serve as an impetus for the area and the park in general.  Today, the park is a bit rough around the edges and could use some landscaping, etc to make it more inviting.

Other newish homes have been constructed just east of the park.

The park is made up of a playground and a Cardinals Care Baseball Field, divided by an alley, which is open to traffic making it a bit awkward for a kids-oriented park.

The bright spot is the Cardinals Care Field just south of the playground, this one is in quite good condition and has an awesome scoreboard in right field.

In these current time, baseball isn't a sport that kids just get together and play like they did years ago a la the Sandlot.

I would love to see an organized youth league that recruits kids to play ball in a league that pits the various neighborhoods against each other.  The "home-field" would be the Cardinals Care fields throughout the city.  Each team would be regional based and sponsored.  Kids love baseball, they just need adults to bring the equipment and organize it.  Basketball is the "pickup game" of choice these days.  I'd like to see Cardinals Care and the city Park's Dept. organize and sponsor such a league.

This would help on many fronts:  give kids something to do, open up baseball to the newest generation, get some much needed maintenance of the Cards Care fields, help establish neighborhood identity and pride, get like minded kids together for bonding/friendship and encouragement to walk/ride bikes to the fields for pick up game.  Each team could identify with an MLB team logo to make it cool for the kids.  It would bring parents together from different parts of the city that don't interact in the CYC or other leagues.

I just love the game of baseball and these fields are really great, but they are never used.  Imagine Hamilton Heights going up against Fox Park.  I can get behind that and envision lawn chairs filled with parents, friends and grill outs, etc on game day.  Each neighborhood could try to out-do the other to make the best game day scenes.  I can dream, right?  In a city that is supposed to be "baseball heaven", kids are not playing pickup ball ANYWHERE in the city in numbers that are noticeable.  We could change that.

The playground is in good physical shape, but really needs some trash cans as there is quite a bit of litter strewn about by the adults who like to drink and eat junk food and trash the park that they are in.  See the pictures below if you think I'm exaggerating.

As you can see in the sign, the playground is dedicated to Margo Anderson.

Margo Anderson (1943-2010) sounded like an amazing person and tireless volunteer, mother and teacher.  Her work in the local community led to the playground being dedicated in her memory on June 30th, 2011.

Here's some info from the City of St. Louis Resolution #136 that made the dedication official.
WHEREAS, Margo Anderson was born February 11, 1943 in St. Louis to James Williams and Thelma Chandler; and

WHEREAS, Margo was preceded in her journey to heaven by her mother, Thelma Chandler,
brother, Ernest Chandler and son, George (Butch) Anderson; and

WHEREAS, she loved everyone around her and never met a stranger. She was a mother to many
and a friend to all; and

WHEREAS, Margo was a dedicated teacher and worked for Headstart for over 20 years. She was a parent volunteer with Mathew Dickey Boys Club and worked on various neighborhood
improvement projects; and

WHEREAS, Margo was a dedicated servant for many years as a Board Member of Union West Community Corporation, the local housing organization. She actively served as the block captain
in the 1400 block of Temple Avenue for many years and was one of the best neighbors throughout the City of St. Louis; and

WHEREAS, up until the day of her departure on May 17, 2010, it was always a dream for Mrs. Anderson to see a playground in the neighborhood that would provide a nice and safe place for
children to play. 
If the family or friends of Ms. Anderson come across this post, and you have a photo you'd be willing to share, I'd love to add that context to help memorialize her contributions to the community.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lindenwood Park

Lindenwood Park is 1 of 111 St. Louis parks.  This 14.08 acre park was placed into ordinance in 1947 and is located in the Lindenwood Park neighborhood, bordered by Pernod Avenue to the north, Prather Avenue to the east, Lindenwood Place to the south and Jamieson Avenue to the west:

Per the Lindenwood Park Neighborhood Website:
Here is a history of Lindenwood Park as relayed by Mr. and Mrs. Schneidewind of the 6600 block of Pernod.

Lindenwood Park did not exist until after the 1955 bond issue. Then it was a four-block-long by one-block-wide area of woods with sinkholes and kids’ club houses.

Mrs. Schneidewind’s father was instrumental in getting the land (12 acres in all) donated to the city as a settlement with Darst Reality. Darst Realty, owned by then-Mayor Joseph Darst, intended to put 4-family housing units all over the tract, as well as the land north of Lindenwood Avenue and west of Prather.

After five years of lawsuits by the newly-formed Lindenwood Improvement Association, the Darsts offered the following deal:

If they could build 4-family housing units on both sides of Jamieson, from Lindenwood Place south to Bancroft, and along a new street called Wenzlick, from Lindenwood Place to Bancroft, they would donate the then-rugged tract of land that became the park to the city.
The settlement was finalized in court in 1946 through the efforts of James Bialson, an attorney who lived in the 6500 block of Mardel. 
The city did not find the money to build the park until the 1955 bond issue which also authorized the building of Fire Station #31 on Donovan in St. Louis Hills. The Lindenwood Neighborhood supported both issues on the bond issue because they wanted the park developed and prior to this, all fire and ambulance responses were generated from Fire Station #35 at Arsenal and Macklind. They wanted a closer fire station for quicker emergency response. 
The park development began in 1955 and has continued ever since as new residents have continued to both maintain and improve the park as a valued neighborhood asset. (source)
One can only assume the park was named after the neighborhood and street of the same name.  If that assumption is correct, than here's the history on the naming of Lindenwood Place from the St. Louis Public Library Street Name Archive:
When developer Sam P. Rathell platted Lindenwood in 1888, he asked his wife to name the streets, she named this street and the subdivision for her classmates at her alma mater, Lindenwood College at St. Charles, Missouri.
The park is well cared for and well attended by seemingly respectful park goers.  Anyone with kids involved in youth sports certainly have spent time here as the ball fields and soccer fields are commonly used.

The corners of the park are nicely landscaped as are the perimeters around the tennis courts and utility building.  There are new trees planted within the park to provide shade and interest:

The interior of the park has a playground, picnic pavilion, utility building, roller hockey rink, tennis courts and walking path:


There are also baseball and soccer fields.

The homes that surround the park are extremely well maintained and typical St. Louis beauties.

Congrats to all the hard working volunteers and neighbors who maintain and keep the plantings looking good.  Your hard work doesn't go unnoticed.