Saturday, July 26, 2014

St. Marcus Commemorative Park

St. Marcus Commemorative Park is 1 of 108 St. Louis parks.  This 25.5 acre plot of land is located off of Gravois, just north of the Cecil Place and just east of the Gravois/Kingshighway intersection in the Boulevard Heights neighborhood.


I used to live near here for years, so this review will have some personal perspective.  For instance, there are red tailed hawks and fox that hunt in this area.  I cannot seem to find the proof, but I am convinced this part of the city was either a former landfill or common dumping grounds; or maybe when the cemetery was abandoned, it was filled and graded with crude fill dirt.  Why?  When my kids were little they would take a spoon or a shovel and dig in the park and bring all their finding home; I did a post about it back in March, 2010.

Furthermore, we lived here before, during and after the installation of the Great Rivers Greenway bike/pedestrian trail that goes from Holly Hills Boulevard near Christy Avenue all the way to the River Des Peres and beyond.  This park was a dead space before the trail.  The trail brought in hundreds of new trees, a nice wide trail, signage and grand entry ways...and of couse cyclists, dog walkers, strollers and people.  If you build it they will come...the park was activated and now an positive, vibrant space vs. a dead space.  To say the least, this is the greatest thing that has happened to St. Marcus Commemorative Park and the surrounding area including the series of parks that make this greenway:including Christy, Joseph Leisure, River Des Peres Greenway and the River Des Peres Extension parks.




Per the Webster University Library page and Ancestry.com:
St. Marcus Commemorative Park started as a German Evangelical cemetery established in 1856 and was closed in 1960.  Old St. Marcus was dedicated on March 29, 1856 in the presence of Pastor G. W. Walls of St. Marcus Parish and Pastor L. Nollau of St. John Parish. The cemetery was divided into an area for family plots and an area for single graves ("commons").  Only a fraction of the cemetery's graves (2,290 of about 19,5000 total) were maintained through perpetual care, leading to neglect and dereliction. Burials were prohibited by the city after 1960. It was sold to the city in 1977 and afterwards turned into a walking park. Although many of the original grave markers remain, most have been destroyed through vandalism or have been moved. Money from the cemetery's sale was used to move graves under perpetual care to New St. Marcus Cemetery.
The new St. Marcus Cemetery is in the unincorporated area of St. Louis County called Affton, MO on the border of St. Louis near Gravois and River Des Peres Boulevard.

The park is a really a sloping piece of land at his highest point near Gravois and going down toward Ruth Drive to the east.  The bike path that goes through here is winding with a tree lined border.



The park was rededicated to U.S. Veterans whose head stones were made into a walls and frame a small seating area.



 3 shade trees would go a long way toward shading this peaceful spot



The pool in the background is the Concordia Turners, a membership-only pool and recreation facility.

The graves are kind of sad as the city park's dept doesn't fix them or anything.  They don't move them, they just weedwack and mow around them as they've become vandalized over the years.









The park still has the remnants of a concrete and metal fence along Gravois.




It's great to see St. Marcus Commemorative Park now clearly connected to the massive trail system on the southside.

1 comment:

Leslie Rigsby said...

I just came across your blog while doing some genealogical research on The Ville neighborhood where my German ancestors lived. You've got some great posts here! I have ancestors buried in this park. It's sad that it was vandalized, but at least it didn't get excavated and built on like so many other cemeteries.