Tag Archives: St. Louis

Ulysses S. Grant – A St. Louis Treasure

US Grant symposium

There are few people in St. Louis history as revered as Ulysses S. Grant.  The Civil War hero and Reconstruction-era President visited St. Louis often (many times as a guest at the Campbell House) and married his wife, Julia Dent, here in St. Louis – you can still experience the Dent Family home today at the U.S. Grant National Historic Site at White Haven.  This weekend and continuing into May, St. Louis will be playing host to the Ulysses S. Grant Symposium, with special exhibitions, lectures and discussion on the life and legacy of America’s 18th President.  In that spirit, we thought we’d feature a fun but relatively unknown nugget of local U.S. Grant history dredged up by Campbell House Senior Researcher Tom Gronski.

After Grant died in 1885, efforts were begun here in St. Louis to raise money for a large-scale memorial, one that would achieve nationwide attention and respect.  The Grant Monument Association raised funds and eventually chose a design from sculptor Robert Bringhurst (who also sculpted the Elijah Lovejoy monument in Alton, Illinois).  His design was described in an April 1887 excerpt from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“The design is for a 9-foot figure in bronze.  The figure, attired in full military uniforms, is standing at ease, resting on the right, the left foot slightly advanced. The left hand rests on the hilt of the sword; the right, holding a pair of field glasses, hangs easily at the side.  The head is thrown back, the eyes looking out over an imaginary battlefield.”

-St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 27, 1887

So they cast the enormous statue in bronze in 1888 and then placed it in the middle of 12th Street (today Tucker), halfway between Olive and Locust.  Yep, you read that correctly – smack dab in the middle of the street.  The City also built up pillars and an elaborate canopy that read “Let Us Have Peace”.

Grant Statue 1888

U.S. Grant statue in the middle of 12th Street (today Tucker) in 1888, with pillars and and an elaborate canopy. Not too shabby, eh?

Less than ten years later, they moved it.  As it turned out, having a giant memorial to President Grant in the middle of 12th Street wasn’t great for traffic flow and it was moved to the south side of the newly-constructed St. Louis City Hall facing Clark Street in 1898 (without its grand pillars and canopy). Public reception to this new location was

Grant Statue 2014

The statue of President Grant in its current home at the corner of Market and Tucker, without its grand pillars and canopy.

overwhelmingly negative and people expressed concern that such a grand monument had essentially been “buried in the back yard” of City Hall. In 1921, the 9 foot statue was moved once again to its current location at the southwest corner of Market and Tucker.

Most St. Louisans, including some of us here in the CHM office, had no idea of the place of prominence this tribute to the 18th President once occupied, and many probnably have never even noticed the statue in its current location. Have you?

Join us this weekend, continuing into May, for the U.S. Grant Symposium.  This Saturday features a Civil War traveling exhibit at St. Louis Soldiers Memorial and Military Museum, followed by a talk by renowned author and U.S. Grant expert Ronald C. White, Jr.  (there’s also a reception at Campbell House following the talk, come meet Dr. White and have a glass of wine on us!)

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Happy Pi Day from Campbell House!

Let there be great rejoicing throughout the land!  Pi Day (3.14) has arrived, and in honor of this most esteemed of mathematically-centric holidays, we have a little something special to share with you.  One of the crown jewels of the collection here at CHM is Virginia Campbell’s handwritten cookbook, with hundreds of recipes ranging from the delicious (Almond Sponge Cake and Baked Macaroni and Cheese) to the, uh… other stuff (Pickled Oysters and Mushroom Catsup).  So we thought it would be neat to share Virginia’s recipe for mincemeat pie filling, something you don’t see too much of these days.  You’ll have to come up with the pie crust yourself, but we’ll get you most of the way there.

Here’s the original handwritten recipe…


“Mince Meat” recipe in Virginia Campbell’s hand

As you might notice, her recipe calls for THREE POUNDS of beef suet and 12 apples.  In the interest of time and so you don’t end up with enough mincemeat to feed a small army, we cut the batch down for you and put in some helpful 21st century cooking terminology and techniques.  Also, for those of you wondering what exactly “suet” consists of, click here.  (hint: beef and mutton fat, yum!)

What a perfectly perfect mincemeat pie SHOULD look like...

What a perfectly perfect mincemeat pie SHOULD look like…


1 and 1/2 cups suet, finely chopped.
6 apples, cored and finely chopped
2 cups currants
2 cups raisins
1/4 cup chopped citron
3 lemons, zested and juiced
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon cloves
1/2 tablespoon allspice
11 and 1/2 cups brandy


  1. Using a food processor place the suet, apples into the bowl.  Pulse to combine together.
  2. Remove the suet/apple mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. (For a finder texture mince return to food processor and pulse until the desired texture is reached.)
  3. Tightly cover and refrigerate mincemeat for at least a week before using until ready to use in pies.  Will store refrigerated for up to six months.  Makes about 6 cups of mincemeat.

Many thanks to food historian and author Suzanne Corbett for putting the recipe in 21st century terms, keep an eye out over the next year as we publish a new, expanded edition of Virginia’s cookbook!

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“Glorious Gowns” on Display

ladue2If you haven’t had a chance to stop by Campbell House in the past couple of months, you’re in for a treat on your next visit. Now through the end of December 2013, we’re holding a special exhibition of ‘Glorious Gowns’ from the Campbell House collection.  A particularly exciting aspect of this display can be found in our third floor exhibition rooms, where we’re getting the chance to show off some pieces in our collection that normally don’t get to see the light of day—a dozen magnificent wedding dresses. (Look for a future blog post here about Virginia Campbell’s gowns also currently on display.)

Our friends over at the Ladue News stopped by last week to snap some photos and do a feature on these incredible works of art, as well as get the story out about Campbell House’s fashionable past and its once-extensive costume collection.  Here’s a taste of what they had to say…

ladue3“At the Campbell House Museum, a collection of historic wedding gowns showcasing the meticulous ornamentation and painstaking detail found in attire from decades past currently is on exhibit.

On display are 11 historical gowns ranging approximately from 1871 to 1960. A vintage–inspired modern dress also is on display, completing the transitional journey of bridal fashion.

The awe-evoking craftsmanship is showcased in details such as heavy smocking, beading and petite pleating. A variety of older silhouettes are on display, ranging from high to scoop necklines, hourglass-shaping puffed shoulders to hip-enhancing bustles. A selection of dresses even have accessories; items like broaches, shoes, veils and occasionally photographs complement the exhibit.

ladue7Procrastinators interested in seeing the collection should know that Hahn estimates the next display will be in “at least a dozen years, if not longer—especially with Mrs. Campbell’s gowns. If not a whole generation, then the better part of one.” The rationale behind the wait? “Part of it is to preserve them, and also it is a monumental effort to undertake the installation.”

At the start of 2014, the lavish gowns will begin making their way back into storage. When not on display, the wedding dresses are kept in lined, specialty boxes, partially stuffed with acid-free tissue paper to avoid any sharp creases or folds. “The care is prolonging its eventual demise,” Hahn says. “Fabric can last a long time, but no fabric will last forever.” When the dresses are—delicately—touched, they are done so while wearing white cotton gloves to keep any dirt or oil on hands off the dresses. Hahn notes a simple touch might not do anything now, but could leave oil-caused discoloration visible within the next decade.

Preserving the gowns, even if they cannot last forever, is preserving a small part of the city. “I think one of the very interesting things about these gowns is that they are all connected to St. Louis,” Hahn says of the donated pieces. “They speak a lot to the wedding traditions in our own community. In a larger sense, I think it informs people how these wedding traditions have changed and evolved over time.”

Click here for the complete article with more images

Thank you to the Ladue News for helping us tell the story of these unique fashions.


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Missouri Park and Lucas Place

The small park behind the St. Louis Public Library is called Lucas Park in honor of the family that once owned the land.  In about 1810 Judge J.B.C. Lucas purchased a large parcel of land that includes today’s Lucas Park.

In 1850 the Lucas family developed a new residential neighborhood on their land, which they not surprisingly named Lucas Place. From its conception this neighborhood was intended to be very different with wide building setbacks and deed restrictions banning commercial activities. The new street Lucas Place was also offset 50-feet from the city street grid.


Missouri Park and Lucas Place, from “Pictorial St. Louis”, 1875

A defining feature of Lucas Place was a new green space called Missouri Park, which the Lucas family had deeded to the city in 1854. Missouri Park was bounded by 13th, Olive, 14th and St. Charles streets. The park stretched across Lucas Place preventing through traffic into the neighborhood and was a key element in defining the neighborhood as “a place apart”. By 1875 Missouri Park boasted, “an iron fountain, 116 benches, 368 shade trees, 277 shrubs, and was surrounded by a wooden picket fence.”  It was also the first park in St. Louis to have gas lighting along its pathways.

As commercial development began to encroach on Lucas Place in the early 1880s, Missouri Park was selected as the site for St. Louis’ grandest building of the period, the Music and Exposition Hall. Completed in 1884, this massive building was St. Louis’ first convention center and encompassed the entire 4-acre footprint of the old Missouri Park.  Measuring 146,000 square feet the Exhibition Hall hosted the 1888 and 1904 Democratic National Conventions and the 1896 Republican National Convention. The Music Hall sat 4,000 and was the first permanent home to the Saint Louis Symphony.


Music and Exposition Hall, circa 1890

The Music and Exposition Hall was demolished in 1907 having been replaced by a larger and newer St. Louis Coliseum. The site was then selected for the new St. Louis Public Library, built with a $1 million gift from Andrew Carnegie. Because the Library was designed to use only two-thirds of the old exposition site the northern part of the old Missouri Park was restored to green space and renamed Lucas Park. At the same time Locust Street was cut through the space between the new Library and the restored park. When the street was cut through it resulted in the unusual curve at 13 and Locust streets, which can still be seen today.  By 1918 Lucas Park had been planted with “forty-five thousands shrubs and flower plants…set out in artistically designed beds” and was one of the finest parks in St. Louis.  After 1950, all the old residential buildings in the vicinity of Lucas Park had vanished (except for the Campbell House) as downtown was transforming into an exclusively commercial district.

Like this post? Look for the new exhibit Lucas Place: The Lost Neighborhood of St. Louis’ Golden Age opening March 22 at the Landmarks Association of St. Louis. Exhibit made possible through a grant from the Missouri Humanities Council.


Lucas Park and the St. Louis Public Library, from a circa 1920 postcard.

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Campbell Contemporaries » 4.5.12

One of the wascally wabbits at Citygarden. Alas, he does not have a supply of chocolate, cream-filled eggs.

Looking for something to do over the next couple of weeks? Here are some staff recommendations to keep your social calendar hopping (terrible pun clearly intended):

Friday, April 6

Saturday, April 7

Sunday, April 8

  • Celebrate Easter throughout St. Louis. Our friends at Explore St. Louis have compiled a list of places to go (and chocolate to eat!) on Sunday.
  • Director Andy suggests a leisurely nature walk through the grounds of Bellefontaine Cemetery. Make sure you check out the Campbell plot while you’re there. (Trust us. It’s. Not. Morbid.)
  • See the big white wabbits at Citygarden.

Thursday, April 12 through Saturday, April 14

Friday, April 13

Saturday, April 14 through Sunday, April 15

Saturday, April 14

  • After you’re done running and hanging out with artsy intellectuals at the Chase, support Campbell House at our Magical Spring Thing fundraiser at the Magnificent Mahler Ballroom.

Happy Friday Eve, and be sure to send an email to shelley [at] campbellhousemuseum [dot] org if you have a special soiree for us to feature in our next Campbell Contemporaries installment in two weeks.

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