Archives Service Project at the National Building Arts Center| February 20, 2020
The National Building Arts center is inundated with special collections, which include everything from rare books and catalogs to corporate archives. ARLIS is holding a workshop, free of charge, on Friday, April 24 from 8 am – 2 pm to help process the archival collections. The workshop will be led by Sarah Schnuriger, processing archivist at Washington University in St. Louis, and Allison Segura, University of Missouri St. Louis Practicum student working towards an M.A. in History with a concentration in Museum Studies.
The National Building Arts Center (NBAC) promotes public awareness of the crucial roles of architecture, manufacturing, construction, and urban design in the built environment. Founder Larry Giles began collecting architectural artifacts while working in the demolition/salvage business, hoping to establish a national museum dedicated to the building trades.
The NBAC is housed in the former Sterling Steel Casting Company, just across the river from the Gateway Arch. Founder Larry Giles has collected more than 300,000 items. The artifacts range from glass, stone, cast iron, bronze and encompass doorknobs, facades, sculptures, and altars. Giles began salvaging in the 1970s and has continued ever since. The collections required 650 semi trailers to move to their current location.
No archival experience is necessary to participate in this workshop. See Sched for more information.
Read more about the NBAC:
Heathcott, Joesph and Pamela Ambrose. "Industrial Urbanism as an Archival Project: The Work of the Building Arts Foundation." Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, Vol.28, No. 1 (Spring 2009), pp. 44-47.
Sisson, Patrick. "A salvager’s decades-long dream to build a museum of architectural artifacts." Curbed. May 9, 2017. https://www.curbed.com/2017/5/9/15600554/museum-salvage-historic-preservation-architecture-history
Andrea Degener, Local Arrangements Co-Chair
Exploring Forest Park | February 13, 2020
Visitors to St. Louis are frequently pointed in the direction of Forest Park, the city’s large recreational center located between the Chase Park Plaza Hotel and Washington University’s Danforth Campus. Its amenities include the city’s art and history museums, zoo, science center, and outdoor theater. A variety of trails leads through forest, savanna, woodlands, and prairie terrains.
Navigating the expansive park became considerably easier in 2015, when the Forest Park Forever (FPF) conservancy launched a free, GPS-enabled web app that works across devices. Visitors can explore by path type, feature, monument, amenity, or location. Connections to the Great Rivers Greenway, arterial roads, and MetroLink are also indicated.
For history enthusiasts, Forest Park opened June 24, 1876 on the site of former coal mines and farms. Gottlieb Maximilian Kern was the project’s landscape architect, surveyor Julius Pitzman the engineer, and Theodore Link its draftsman. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch boasted that “the wild woods which skirted the borders of the great interior city of North America, were metamorphosed into the finest driving park in America.” In addition to carriage traffic, boating, lawn tennis, bicycling, picnics, and art classes became commonplace.
By 1904, roughly half of the park was in use as the site of the World’s Fair, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Kansas City landscape architect George Kessler designed the plan and grounds after working on the state fair at Sedalia the previous year. Some 1,500 buildings populated the grounds, built by artisans working primarily with wood and staff. The central portion of Cass Gilbert’s Palace of Fine Arts (1902-1903) was a permanent structure, now the Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM).
Residents and out-of-towners benefit from a 1971 agreement between the City and County that created the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District (ZMD). General admission to the Science Center, Zoo, History Museum, and Art Museum is always free. SLAM’s north entrance frieze bears the inscription, “Dedicated to art and free to all.”
Read more about it (the librarian’s pitch):
Linda Ballard. Forest Park Statues and Monuments. St. Louis, July 2014. http://www.forestparkstatues.org/
Forest Park Forever. “Forest Park Forever and the City of St. Louis Announce Designs for Transformative Improvements & Connections to the Park’s East Waterways.” Press Release. 4 November 2019. https://tinyurl.com/v4tnl9p
Forest Park Master Plan: Adopted by the Community Development Commission of the City of St. Louis. St. Louis, December 1995. https://tinyurl.com/va87c28
Caroline Laughlin and Catherine Anderson. Forest Park. St. Louis, 1986. https://tinyurl.com/tn7sbzq
Keli Rylance, Tours and Transportation Coordinator
Tour Highlights | January 23, 2020
You can now view the schedule for the ARLIS/NA 48th Annual Conference on Sched. Look for an email announcing registration, which will be open very shortly. Be sure to check out the tours, offered Monday-Thursday. Some of the tours are highlighted below, but be sure to check out the schedule for the comprehensive list.
Monday, April 20 Architecture Bus Tour with John Guenther
This tour will include stops at the Old Cathedral, Gateway Arch, Wainwright Building, Central Library, the Steedman Architectural Library, and a behind the scenes look at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. The tour will be lead by John C. Guenther, FAIA, The Society of Architectural Historians St. Louis and Missouri Valley Chapters president.
Tuesday, April 21 Peter H. Raven Library at the Missouri Botanical Garden
This tour will include a look at the library's extensive collections, which include botanical artwork, field books, photographs, as well as modern and historical maps. You will also get to look at specimens in the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Herbarium and the library's conservation lab. The tour will lead by Doug Holland, director of the Peter H. Raven Library.
Wednesday, April 22 Campus Next: East End Transformation at Washington University in St. Louis
The largest capital project in the Washington University's recent history, the East End Transformation project was officially dedicated Oct. 2. It encompasses 18 acres of the Danforth Campus, adds five new buildings, expands the university’s world-class Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum and creates an expansive new park. After the tour, there will be time for self-exploration of the Sam Fox School grounds, including the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Weil Hall and the Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library. The tour will be lead by Jane Kojima, Director Communication, Facilities Planning & Management.
Thursday, April 23 Department of Walking Tour with Michael Allen
This walk will cross the Delmar Divide and examine the ways in which race, class and public policies have made one street a significant division. Beginning in the Central West End and traveling to the adjacent Fountain Park neighborhood, the tour examines how two neighborhoods that developed similarly in the early twentieth century became estranged in the later part. The tour will be lead by Michael Allen, urban and architectural historian, who teaches in the graduate architecture programs at Washington University in St. Louis and directs the Preservation Research Office.
Jennifer Akins, Local Arrangements Co-Chair
Andrea Degener, Local Arrangements Co-Chair
Childcare at the St. Louis ARLIS/NA Conference | January 21, 2020
Stephanie Fletcher, Art Librarian Parents and Caregivers SIG Co-Moderator
ARLIS/NA is pleased to offer childcare at the annual conference in St. Louis, marking the fourth year of this important program. The introduction of conference childcare is thus far the most significant accomplishment of the Art Librarian Parents and Caregivers Special Interest Group (ALPACA) and has been generously championed and subsidized by the Executive Board since 2017. The mission of ALPACA is to support art librarians who are raising or caring for family members, and from the start, conference childcare was at the forefront of the group's efforts to make librarian-caregivers visible and valued. The childcare program encourages inclusivity at annual conferences by enabling mothers and fathers to more fully participate in conference activities. It especially supports breastfeeding mothers within ARLIS/NA by giving them the opportunity to maintain their nursing relationships with their babies despite the conference’s many demands on their time and energy.
In St. Louis, the professional childcare agency TLC Family Care will provide on-site full-time childcare on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in a secure suite at the Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta St. Louis Hotel. Childcare will be available from 8:00am to 5:00pm for children aged six months to six years at the cost of $45 per day, per child. Parents are invited to drop off and pick up their children at any time during the days for which their children are registered, and they are encouraged to visit the childcare suite to play with or feed their children at any time. Childcare registration is coming soon.
As a co-moderator of ALPACA and a breastfeeding advocate, I am heavily invested in and incredibly proud of the conference childcare program. The program allowed me to attend the ARLIS/NA conference two years in a row with my daughter and nursling, Grace. Attending a conference with an infant or toddler certainly offers unique challenges, such as keeping a very active baby occupied during a bustling reception, flying solo with a baby strapped to my chest and a diaper bag over my shoulder, or conducting a meeting inconveniently scheduled during dinnertime (although I have no one to blame but myself, since I scheduled it). However, the benefits of bringing my daughter to the annual conference far outweighed the drawbacks. I was able to bond with my clingy yet adventurous toddler, breastfeed her on demand, and explore local attractions like New York’s Central Park Zoo with her. Grace made friends at every turn, which actually empowered me to meet new colleagues and network more successfully during the hectic conference days and nights.
DINING CLOSE TO “HOME” – PART 3: Botanical Heights | January 13, 2020
Packing immense star power into a “blink and you’ll miss it” stretch occupying a little more than a city block, Botanical Heights is home to six of STL’s best restaurants and is a can’t miss based on charm alone. If you plan to check out the world-renowned Missouri Botanical Garden, check out Botanical Heights too!
Indo | If you only go out once in STL, treat yourself to Indo. James Beard semi-finalist and Rising Star Chef of the Year Nick Bognar creates amazing cuisine that nods toward his formal Japanese training and own Thai upbringing, like unparalleled nigiri, out of this world sashimi, and a stunning short rib curry.
Olio | Located in a magically transformed former filling station, Olio was the first domino that tipped in Botanical Heights’ regeneration, and remains its heart. Grab a cocktail or a glass of wine, and enjoy light, fresh Israeli fare like zucchini carpaccio piled with herbs and turkey thigh schwarma.
Elaia | Elaia is a candlelit nook nesting above Olio, and serves a pre-fixe, ever evolving seasonal menu that has earned it the number three spot in STL’s top 100 rankings. The chef’s touch with vegetables is something to behold, making Elaia a great spot for an elevated vegetarian dinner.
Union Loafers Café and Bread Bakery | Serving sandwiches on perfect house-made sourdough and an astonishing chickpea soup by day, and stellar Neopolitan pizza at night, Union Loafers wears many hats—and all of them exceedingly well. The lines here can be intense, but the food is more than worth the wait.
Nixta | Named 2017’s 9th Best New Restaurant in America by Bon Appetit, Nixta serves Mexican cuisine in its complex and varied glory. The crispy octopus, impossibly fresh tuna tostada, and smoky squash taquitos are just a starting point in exploring Nixta’s ever-changing, always excellent seasonal menu.
La Patisserie Chouquette | La Patisserie Chouquette has award winning Chef Simone Faure at the helm, serving up everything from New Orleans 7up pound cake to traditional French pastries. If you’re still in town on Saturday, their afternoon tea is a decadent can’t miss.
Betha Whitlow, Program Volunteer
Introducing the Plenary and Keynote Speakers | December 20, 2019
Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Plenary Speaker
Wassan Al-Khudhairi is the Chief Curator at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, where she has organized Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Lawrence Abu Hamdan: Earwitness Theatre, Guan Xiao: Fiction Archive Project, Hayv Kahraman: Acts of Reparation, Trenton Doyle Hancock: The Re-Evolving Door to the Moundverse and SUPERFLEX: European Union Mayotte. Prior to her position at CAM, Al-Khudhairi was the Hugh Kaul Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art. During her time in Birmingham, she organized the first large-scale exhibition of the museum’s contemporary collection, Third Space / shifting conversations about contemporary art. In 2019, Al-Khudhairi received the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) and the AAMC Foundation Award for Excellence for the Third Space catalogue. She was invited to be a Curator for the 6th Asian Art Biennial in Taiwan in 2017 and Co-Artistic Director for 9th Gwangju Biennial in South Korea in 2012. Serving as the Founding Director of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar, Al-Khudhairi oversaw the opening of the Museum in 2010 and co-curated Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art and curated Cai Guo-Qiang: Saraab.
Read more about Wassan Al-Khudairi:
Arnold, Willis Ryder. “Contemporary Art Museum Hires Curator Who Wants to Know What St. Louisans Think.” Accessed December 20, 2019. https://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/contemporary-art-museum-hires-curator-who-wants-know-what-st-louisans-think.
Greenberger, Alex. “Wassan Al-Khudhairi Appointed Chief Curator of Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.” ARTnews.Com (blog), May 1, 2017. https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/wassan-al-khudhairi-appointed-chief-curator-of-contemporary-art-museum-st-louis-8214/.
Strange Fire. “Q&A: Wassan Al-Khudhairi.” Accessed December 20, 2019. http://www.strangefirecollective.com/qa-wassan-al-khudhairi.
“Wassan Al-Khudhairi | Birmingham Museum of Art.” Accessed December 20, 2019. https://www.artsbma.org/the-museum/staff-members/wassan-al-khudhairi/.
“Wassan Al-Khudhairi Named New Chief Curator of Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.” Accessed December 20, 2019. https://www.artforum.com/news/wassan-al-khudhairi-named-new-chief-curator-of-contemporary-art-museum-st-louis-68192.
Adrienne Davis, Convocation Keynote Speaker
Adrienne Davis holds appointments as the William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law; Vice Provost; and the founding Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity at Washington University in St. Louis. She holds courtesy academic appointments in the Departments of African and African-American Studies; History; Sociology; and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies, all in the School of Arts & Sciences. Davis is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, where she served on the Executive Committee of the Yale Law Journal.
Davis joined the law faculty at Washington University in St. Louis in January 2008 and was appointed vice provost in January 2011. As Vice Provost, Davis focuses on faculty diversity and development, consulting and collaborating closely with the University’s schools; managing a suite of programs; and chairing key searches for the next generation of University leaders. From 2015 until 2017 she chaired the University’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, which was charged with designing a University-wide plan for diversity. She also works closely with other stakeholders at the University on a range of institutional policies, initiatives, and programs.
As a teacher and scholar Davis is a feminist and critical race theorist who focuses on “the law of daily life,” or how law regulates and affects people’s daily interactions, decisions, and identities. She has written extensively on the gendered and private law dimensions of American slavery, the legal regulation of intimacy, and theories of justice and reparations. She is the co-editor of the book, Privilege Revealed: How Invisible Preference Undermines America (NYU Press).
Davis is deeply involved in several St. Louis civic institutions. She is Secretary to the St. Louis Art Museum’s Board of Commissioners and also serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of Opera Theatre St. Louis, the St. Louis Fashion Fund, Our Little Haven, and the St. Louis Visionary Awards. She is a member of the Links, Inc., St. Louis Chapter, and for three years chaired their Arts Facet. She previously served on the boards of Laumeier Sculpture Park and December literary magazine.
Read more about Adrienne Davis:
“Adrienne D. Davis | Office of the Provost | Washington University in St. Louis.” Accessed December 20, 2019. https://provost.wustl.edu/people/adrienne-davis/.
"Cut & Paste: It's 'a very white-dominated field': Adrienne Davis advocates for diversity in the arts." Accessed December 20, 2019. https://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/cut-paste-its-very-white-dominated-field-adrienne-davis-advocates-diversity-arts#stream/0
WashULaw. “Adrienne Davis.” Accessed December 20, 2019. https://law.wustl.edu/faculty-staff-directory/profile/adrienne-davis/.
Skye Lacerte, Local Arrangements Co-Chair
Rina Vecchiola, Local Arrangements Co-Chair
DINING CLOSE TO “HOME” – PART 2: The Grove | December 13, 2019
The Grove neighborhood is definitely known for its night life, but it’s also packed with great eats and a just a few minutes from the CWE. The below restaurants are just the tip of the iceberg for this burgeoning hotspot!
Grace Meat and Three | Chef Rick Lewis matches his generous hospitality with immense talent at this Southern American restaurant. Go for the (hot or not) fried chicken, stay for the BBQ tofu and seasonal salad with fresh farmer’s cheese, and leave only after you’ve sampled the banana pudding!
Hello Juice and Smoothie | Eat too much at Grace Meat and Three? If you are feeling the need to eat more virtuously, Hello Juice and Smoothie is your place, with a creative and healthy array of fresh juice, smoothies, bowls, broths and elixers.
Sultan Mediterranean | Owned and operated by an Iraqi Kurdish family, Sultan has spectacular Middle Eastern cuisine—try the pilau or the Musakhan flatbread. It’s not a bit of a stretch to say this is one of the best restaurants in STL, and some of the best Middle Eastern food around.
Beast Butcher and Block | In a city full of incredible BBQ—more on this in a later post—Beast wows with its ribs and brisket, as well as atypical cuts like snoot and pork steak. Note: Most STL restaurants have plenty of vegetarian friendly options, but not this one.
Sauce on the Side | You may hear “calzone” and cringe, but Sauce on the Side hand makes inspired and unforgettable versions such as the Magic Carpet Ride, packed with four kinds of mushroom and three cheeses laced with garlic honey oil.
Gramaphone | A former concert venue turned “sandwich pub,” Gramaphone serves up--you guessed it--inspired, immense, and mad-tasty sandwiches. Check their schedule, as some great live music is still often on the menu as well.
Urban Chestnut | Perfect for a large group of craft beer lovers, Urban Chestnut also has a full kitchen serving wonderful Belgian frites and mussels, rotisserie chicken, and a seasonal grain bowl packed with local produce—and its location in a former printing factory is a great example of adaptive re-use in STL. If your beer tastes run to the experimental, cross the street to the Urban Research Brewery to test new brews and grab a slice at their New York Style pizza counter!
Confluence Kombucha and gastroLab | Though the hours are somewhat limited, this kombucha brewery and tasting room also serves up great vegan fare like Kimbob tacos packed with house made kimchi and wild-foraged mushrooms.
Sameem Afghan Restaurant | Sameem was a pioneer in The Grove, and justly remains popular, serving Afghan food in a small and spare dining area. A great place for vegetarians and omnivores!
Everest Café | Renowned for its amazing lunch buffet, Everest Café serves Nepalese, Indian AND Korean cuisine, reflecting the background of its sweet husband and wife owners.
Betha Whitlow, Program Volunteer
LGBTQ History in St. Louis | December 5, 2019
Currently, several institutions and individuals have been working diligently to preserve LGBTQ history in St. Louis. This post will highlight three projects currently active in St. Louis: Mapping LGBTQ St. Louis, LGBT History Project, and the Gay Home Movie Documentary.
The Mapping LGBTQ St. Louis project, a started in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department at Washington University in St. Louis, grew to partner with the Missouri Historical Society and Steven Brawley. Miranda Rectenwald and Andrea Freidman are currently co-directors of the continuation of the project.
In an interview with Miranda Rectenwald, Curator of Local History at Washington University in St. Louis and one of the co-directors of the project, we asked her what she found unique about the Mapping LGBTQ St. Louis project. She responded:
“One of the things that is a unique feature about St. Louis and this map is we plot a lot of locations of things where there’s no building or historic site there anymore. Sometimes there never was, there was a street corner or a park. But a lot of things that are mapped don’t physically exist. And that is one of the big differences about this project. There’s a fairly similar project that’s going on in New York, kind of similar name, kind of similar look to their website. The Mapping LGBTQ History of New York. They’re only looking at historical preservation and so they only map sites that still exist and if we did that in St. Louis, we would have like nothing on this map because of the rapid city urban planning and urban redevelopment and just wholesale grazing of blocks and buildings. A whole bunch of features on this map is a place that was a real place and still is, but, there’s nothing physically there now. Or, it’s a parking lot or an interchange on a highway. That’s another way that we felt like doing the geographic markers shows that this history occurred and it happened here even though there’s not a building still standing. And that was one of the difficult things about this project, so much of this history is literally invisible. There’s nothing there to go see.”
You can read more about Mapping LGBTQ here.
Steven Brawley is the founder of the LGBT History Project, started in 2007, which works to preserve and promote St. Louis’s dynamic LGBTQIA+ history. The LGBT History Project started as a blog and grew into its current iteration. The LGBT History Project has recently expanded its partnership to include Pride St. Louis and will work to preserve artifacts and exhibits from the PrideCenter. Bralwey has also expanded partnerships to include the Griot Museum of Black History, Missouri History Museum, The State Historical Society of Missouri, and Washington University in St. Louis. Brawley recently wrote the book Gay and Lesbian St. Louis.
You can find a walking tour of the Central West End, noted as St. Louis's "most historic gayborhood," on the LGBT History website.
Geoff Story is currently working on the Gay Home Movie Documentary with Beth Prusaczyk. Story purchased home movie reels at an estate sale, which ended up being film of a pool party and other scenes from St. Louis during the 1940s and 1950s. Story is now in the process of interviewing friends and family, although anyone is welcome to come forward to help with identification of individuals depicted in the films.
You can read more about the Gay Home Movie Documentary here.
Andrea Degener, Local Arrangements Co-Chair
DINING CLOSE TO “HOME” – PART 1: The Central West End | November 7, 2019
I’ve got a secret for you: St. Louis is a food lover’s paradise. Named Food and Wine Magazine’s 5th best place to go (and eat) in 2019, our dining scene is full of talented chefs and amazing restaurants that thrive in this vibrant yet affordable place to practice their craft. From elevated takes on heartland cuisine to a diverse range of ethnic restaurants, plan your schedule to take advantage of every bite you can in our lively, on-the-move city!
Note: This blog post is the first in a series that will introduce you to the breadth and depth of the STL restaurant scene.
You lucky conference goer, you—the Chase Park Plaza is located in proximity to some of the best restaurants in St. Louis! The hotel itself is in the highly walkable Central West End, with The Grove, and Botanical Heights neighborhoods a slightly longer trek or a short car share ride away. Some of my favorite places to dine in this area include:
Central West End
Vicia | Vicia serves incredible, vegetable-forward, waste-nothing (tomato skin salt, anyone?) cuisine crafted by Blue Hill alum, James Beard nominee, and Food and Wine 2018 Best New Chef Michael Galina. Take a group and partake in the family-style Farmer’s Lunch, a beautiful spread of soups, salads, and tartines!
Bulrush | While technically in the Grand Arts District, James Beard Award semi-finalist Rob Connoley is cooking up hyper-regional, highly seasonal Ozark cuisine. Sustainable in every sense of the word, Bulrush’s ingredients are organic and largely hand-foraged, its kitchen zero-waste, and its staff fairly paid. Bulrush is unique to STL, and like nowhere else.
Brasserie | From James Beard Award Gerard Craft’s restaurant group, Brasserie serves classic French Bistro fare like crispy frites in a paper cone, rich chicken confit, and reasonably priced carafes of terrific house wines.
Taste | Named on of the top 150 bars in the United States, Gerard Craft’s Taste specializes in both creative and classic hand-crafted cocktails paired with a great small plates menu, made yet more special by moody, atmospheric lighting and an intimate setting.
Yellowbelly | Relatively new to the STL restaurant scene, Yellowbelly has spectacular cocktails—many rum based—a great menu developed by Top Chef winner Richard Blase, and super hip, tropics inspired décor.
Sushi Koi | The sushi bar at Sushi Koi is helmed by a highly talented female sushi chef who turns out big flavors and generous portions from her tiny kitchen, like a beyond fresh Hamachi sashimi with avocado, ponzu, and jalepenos.
Mission Taco | Part of a growing restaurant mini-chain, Mission has elevated Mexican street food AND is easy on the budget. Three filling and flavorful tacos—think wood-fired portabello mushrooms and BBQ duck—will set you back around $10 or so!
Cocina Latina | This is the place for casual surroundings and relaxed home cooking drawing from a range of Central and South American cuisines, from Ropa Vieja to Colombian empandas. Be careful--the mojitos pour freely here as well!
Café Osage | Café Osage is a dreamy hybrid of a lovely, sun dappled bistro tucked into an Instagram perfect nursery and garden store. Open only for breakfast and lunch, the menu matches the spirit of the location with a heavy emphasis on seasonal produce.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream | Yes, it’s a chain, but that doesn’t make it less delicious. And it’s right next door to Left Bank Books, a GREAT indie bookstore!
PuraVegan | This café + yoga studio may be a bit of a walk from the Chase, but they serve a mean vegan breakfast!
Medina Grill | If you want a quick, relatively healthy lunch, Medina Grill—an STL-based restaurant “chainlet”—is my favorite CWE place for cheap, quick and tasty Mediterranean fare
Retreat Gastropub/Juniper/Scottish Arms | While not one in the same—Retreat and Scottish Arms are gastropubs while Juniper serves elevated Southern fare--these three restaurants hug opposite corners from each other in a developing part of the CWE, and are all highly worth a visit.
Betha Whitlow, Program Volunteer
The Central West End | October 24, 2019
The Central West End, one of the 78 neighborhoods of the city of St. Louis, is filled with history and culture as well as the bustle that comes to being home of a thriving medical campus. It is easy to be swept up in the neighborhood as you walk down one of its wide streets lined with trees and stately old homes; it is also easy to get caught up in the hustle of diners and shoppers along Euclid. When walking around the neighborhood, it might not be apparent that it was once a gay epicenter of the city. It is also not obvious that just a few blocks to the north lies the Delmar Divide, one of the most obvious racial divisions in the entire city. It is important to understand the complexities of the neighborhood’s combined histories, to always be aware that it is also a part of the city that illuminates its challenges.
The Central West End is a neighborhood founded in the wake of the success of the 1904 World’s Fair. Bordered by Kingshighway, which was once a westward boundary of the city, the Central West End was an area where mansions were built by the wealthy elite, many of which still stand today. In 1914, Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis was completed and some of the best architects were being commissioned to build new homes and properties. In 1915, the Washington University School of Medicine moved from downtown to the area, further solidifying the region's growth.
Central West End fell on hard times during the depression and several decades after. Those wealthy individuals who built mansions now found that they could no longer afford the upkeep of such a grand household. St. Louis City as a whole saw a loss of 27% of its population from 1950 to 1970.1 Many of the Central West End properties were subdivided into hotels or boarding houses and many businesses on Maryland Avenue closed their doors. It was during the 1950s that Forest Park also faced a funding crisis by a “strapped city government.”2 The Chase Park Plaza, the hotel that played host to numerous celebrities, closed its doors in 1972. With its dwindling population, empty storefronts, shuttered hotels,and a park facing an unknown future, the Central West End was poised to face major challenges over the coming decades.
The upheaval of the urban fabric resulted in the emergence of Gaslight Square, a walkable urban space that was deemed a successful reuse of what used to be a grocery store district for the wealthy residents of the Central West End.3 In the 1950s, the area boomed as an entertainment district that boasted numerous nightclubs, restaurants and shops. Part of the appeal of Gaslight Square came from its bygone architectural elements: the broad sidewalks framed by old buildings and numerous gas street lamps leftover from a past era. The entertainment district was bustling with diners and shoppers during the day while the nighttime was abuzz with crowds flocking to see musicians from all over the country.4
By the 1960s, much of the Central West End was labeled as an at risk neighborhood. The Washington University School of Medicine, one of the few medical facilities that decided to remain in the city rather than fleeing to the more open spaces of the county, prompted the study and redevelopment of the surrounding area. The first master plan for the campus, created by Gyo Obata, caused quite a reaction within the community.5 The new plan did not show any of the existing structures, but rather a new modern footprint that would not include any of the historical properties already standing on the nearby streets. Many of the residents protested this design and prompted a reevaluation of the plan that would result in many of the historic properties being revitalized.
One of the biggest factors for the success of the revitalization of the area is due to the presence of the LGBT community, who is largely sparked the renewal of the area in the 1970s.6 Since the 1950s, the Central West End was a huge center for LGBT culture and, throughout the 1960s, grew to be the hub of “queer social life.”7 By the 1970s, the neighborhood had grown to become a political epicenter for the LGBT population.8 During the mid-1970s, however, the Central West End became subject to anti-gay political policies and people were forced to relocate. By the 1980s, gentrification had swept the area and many of the once-popular LGBT establishments and spaces were forced to shutter.
Today, the Central West End remains one of the city’s most notable cultural centers. Writers Kate Chopin, Tennessee Williams, T.S. Eliot, and William Burroughs all took up residence there. The Chase Park Plaza was the hotel choice of celebrities and hosted the likes of Elvis, Amelia Earhart, Sammy Davis Jr., The Rolling Stones, in addition to numerous United States presidents.9 The area is home to the World Chess Hall of Fame and Left Bank Books. The neighborhood has yet again become a vibrant shopping district with bakeries, galleries and boutique shops.
We welcome you to the Central West End, one facet of a network of neighborhoods that make up the City of St. Louis. As you call it home for the week of the society’s 48th annual conference, we hope you explore and acknowledge the history of this neighborhood which exemplifies our conference theme, Preserve, Enhance and Reimagine.
1 Rebound Neighborhoods in Older Industrial Cities: The Case of St. Louis
3 Segregation by Design: Conversations and Calls for Action in St. Louis
5 A Place Worth Saving: The story of the Central West End
9 In its third incarnation, the Chase Park Plaza’s glamour is returning, and its fun-loving past is coming back to life
Jennifer Akins, Local Arrangements Co-Chair
Andrea Degener, Local Arrangements Co-Chair
Welcome! | October 18, 2019
The Conference Planning Committee enthusiastically invites you to join us in St. Louis April 20-24, 2019 for the 48th annual ARLIS/NA conference.
The City of St. Louis is a vibrant cultural destination boasting a wide array of museums, music and theatre venues and fine dining. The city operates more than 100 parks, with amenities that include sports facilities, playgrounds, concert venues, picnic areas, and lakes. Many of the arts and cultural institutions are freely accessible to the public.
The theme of the 2020 conference is Preserve, Enhance, Reimagine to highlight how ARLIS/NA professionals use, reflect, and build upon our core values and practices to inform our future. The theme reflects Saint Louis’ reimagined community spaces and strong practice of architectural preservation and adaptive reuse, as well as vibrant movements of social change bridging divides through art and activism.
Contributors will address topics that create change or enhance user experience in these areas:
- Advocacy, social justice, public policy, and activism
- Alternative publications (artist books, graphic novels, zines, etc.)
- Digital humanities and digitization
- Diversity, equity, & inclusion
- Leadership & management
- Local art and architecture
We look forward to sharing the Sched with you in the near future. Please check the blog and website for any news and updates involving conference programming, workshops, tours, and events. You can refer to the blog and social media for conference highlights and other informative information about the St. Louis region.
Skye Lacerte, Program Co-Chair
Rina Vecchiola, Program Co-Chair
Jennifer Akins, Local Arrangements Co-Chair
Andrea Degener, Local Arrangements Co-Chair