Sunday, January 12, 2014

Laclede Park

Laclede Park is 1 of 108 St. Louis parks.  It makes up 3.17 of the total 2,956 acres of park land in the city.


The park was placed into ordinance in 1812 and is part of the Dutchtown Neighborhood bordered by East and West Iowa Avenue in a rather strange setting that seems to buck the recti-linear street grid.


The oddest thing about this park is it predates the nearby Minnie Wood Memorial Square just a block to the east by 113 years.  It is almost like Minnie Wood got all the resources and Laclede Park was completely abandoned.  Nothing exists in Laclede Park.  Nothing.


You can tell Laclede Park once had a centerpiece, maybe a gazebo or stage.  But as it stands today it is just an empty field of grass and weeds.


The homes that surround the park are beautiful, and in various states of repair.  The back sides of the properties are visible from the park and East and West Iowa really serve as the alley for these homes.  The double spires of St. Anthony are visible in the distance:





There are 2 school buildings, one active in the beautiful 1910 William B. Ittner Meramec Elementary School which is kind of the twin of Mullanphy School in the Shaw neighborhood.





It is great to see investment in our historic schools.  New windows were recently added and many other upgrades are planned from the recent Prop S approval.

The other school, St. Thomas of Aquin, was abandoned by the Catholics in their continued migration out of St. Louis to the suburbs.  The locals have taken to breaking into the school and breaking the windows.  Of course it won't be secured and the slow decline has started for this beautiful building built in 1932.




For a park that takes its name from the French fur trader who, with his young assistant and "stepson" Auguste Chouteau, founded St. Louis, Missouri in 1764 you would think to expect more.

Maybe someday the Parks Departments in the city and county will merge and we'll have the resources to properly bring this park back as a positive space and a memorial to our founder.

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