Category Archives: Lucas Place

The Wandering Chimney Pots

As the cold winter weather approaches it is a perfect time to take a closer look at what else, chimney pots.

If you have visited the Campbell House recently, you may recall three chimney pots as part of the Lucas Place exhibit. As we moved the chimney pots back into storage, we thought it might be interesting to recount their history. For supposedly stationary objects, these pots have moved around quite a bit, perhaps emphasizing the truthfulness of the old adage, “Not all who wander are lost.” This, then, is the tale of the wandering chimney pots.

The three chimney pots, from left, are A, B, and C for this article's purposes.

The three chimney pots, from left, are A, B, and C for this article’s purposes.

 

But what is a chimney pot? A chimney pot is made of terra cotta and is placed on top of the chimney to expand the length of the chimney inexpensively, and to improve the chimney’s draft. A chimney with more than one pot on it indicates that there is more than one fireplace on different floors sharing the chimney.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the chimney pots were never the subject of historical photographs at Campbell House. Luckily, however, there are just enough photos of the side and rear of the house that their presence can be discerned. In one of the 1885 photographs, for instance, the chimney pots can be seen sticking up above the carriage house. Upon closer examination, the octagonal pot (we’ll call it Pot B for now) sits on the rearmost chimney, servicing the kitchen and rear third floor. The round pot (henceforth Pot A) is on Mrs. Kyle’s Bedroom’s chimney. Interestingly, in another angle of the house, another round pot can be seen on the rear parlor chimney. Pot A could be either one of these.

Notably, there are no pots of the Pot C variety. To find them, we have to fast-forward to 1930, when suddenly there are eleven of them. For some reason, when those pots went up, the decision was made to save pots A and B, and place them together on the rearmost chimney on either side of Pot C. As grateful as we are for the decision to save them, we can’t help but wonder: why put the fanciest two pots on the least visible chimney?

It’s easy to overlook the chimneys in this photo, but looking closely reveals that two of the three pots on the rear chimney are different in size and shape. Pots A and B have moved again!

 

Whatever the reason, pots A and B remain on the back chimney in this photo from the 1960s. The C pots, however, have been rearranged, possibly by the museum. Now, two C pots rest on each of the parlor chimneys, providing better symmetry than was present in the 1930s.

Although hard to make out, Pot A is circled in red, and Pot B in blue.

Although hard to make out, Pot A is circled in red, and Pot B in blue.

 

The pots are rearranged yet again after the museum’s first restoration in 1968. Evidently looking for the best aesthetics, the museum plopped pot A on the rear parlor, and pot B on the front parlor. It may have been at this point that pot B was plugged by cement, although for what reason (and why only this pot) is unknown.Campbell House, early 1990s

 

Despite decades of exposure, the collection of chimney pots survived whatever Mother Nature threw at them, suffering little more than staining and discoloration. That all changed in 1998, when a strong gust of wind sent one pot, of the “C” type, hurtling towards the ground below. Luckily, no one was injured, although the pot lost much of its upper third. This pot now lives in the basement.

Its a hard life, being a chimney pot.

Its a hard life, being a chimney pot.

 

When The Restoration began in 1999, the pots were moved yet again. With scaffolding thrown up around the whole house, the decision was made to temporarily remove pots A and B for their safety. Naturally, the pots have never returned to the roof. For some reason, pot C was also moved off the roof.

This brings the saga of the chimney pots back to where we began, with the pots heading towards storage. Given their propensity to move around, though, maybe we’d better keep a close eye on them…

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Picture Yourself in St. Louis History—#PictureYourselfSTL

LouisThe Campbells didn’t have smart phones, and of course never took selfies. But we bet Robert and Virginia would pull out a selfie stick now, especially since they could win some great prizes by doing so in their own house! This Labor Day Weekend kicks off a special collaboration between the Campbell House Museum and eighteen other cultural institutions, and all you have to do to take part is visit us and photograph yourself.

The new Missouri History Museum exhibit, “A Walk in 1875 St. Louis,” links area historic sites that share a mission of preserving and telling the story of St. Louis.

Each participating location has two picture frames for hand-held use by visitors. Five locations will receive a larger “hub” picture frame and two hand-held versions – the Missouri History Museum, the Forest Park Visitor Center, The Old Courthouse, the Susan Blow Kindergarten and the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Hanley

Hanley House

Visitors will be invited to take their pictures in and around the frames showing a distinctive background inside the attractions, and distribute their images via social media. An Instagram hashtag, and a web page on the Missouri History Museum site will be available where visitors can post their “historic” pictures with #PictureYourselfSTL or @missourihistorymuseum. Visitors can also email their shots to
PictureYourself@mohistory.org.

That’s it! There are monthly prize drawings, with rewards including hotel stays, attraction tickets, and more. One grand prize winner at the close of the contest wins a tintype portrait session!

The contest is open until February 14, 2016. You can visit each of the nineteen sites and take selfies at each to increase your chances, or to just enjoy a journey through 1875 St. Louis with “Louis” as your guide.

Here are the participating locations:

WhiteHaven

Ulysses Grant’s White Haven

So open up your phone’s selfie mode, and take part in all the fun and experience St. Louis in 1875!

Read more about the program in the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.

The “Picture Yourself in St. Louis History” project has been developed and is financially supported by the Museum Innovators Group organized by the Missouri History Museum (MHM).

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The Lost Neighborhood of St. Louis’ Gilded Age

“At Fourteenth Street begins one of the beauty spots of St. Louis, commonly known as Lucas Place. For full three blocks not a shanty rears its head. All the houses are large and handsome, and the shade trees the best the city can show. The street is paved with large blocks of limestone, and is, consequently, very clean. It is an intensely quiet spot, and if children live there they are kept within doors, and are never allowed to make mud pies in the gutter…”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 16 October 1880

Lucas Place in Color

Lucas Place between 15 and 16 streets, photographed circa 1880

For only 40 years Lucas Place was the showplace street for St. Louis’ rich and powerful. Populated by successful merchants, politicians, military officers and physicians, Lucas Place was surrounded by some of the city’s finest institutions, including Washington University, Mary Institute, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and the first public high school west of the Mississippi.

LucasPlace1883

Map of Lucas Place, 1883. The pink shapes show the footprints of the original mansions.

But today a visitor to downtown St. Louis would never know such a place existed. Even the name Lucas Place has disappeared. Today we call it Locust Street. It is truly a lost neighborhood that exists only in photos and newspaper stories. Campbell House is of course the exception to this statement. Beginning in 1851 it was at the heart of the neighborhood and today it all the is left.

LUCASP~8

The corner of 16th and Locust Street in 1910.

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The same corner today.

For decades the Campbell House Museum has been collecting an archive of material about Lucas Place and now you have a chance to see the buildings and read the stories that made this street the heart of Gilded Age St. Louis in a new exhibit.

Lucas Place: The Lost Neighborhood of St. Louis’ Gilded Age opens with a reception this Friday, March 22 between 5:30 and 8 p.m. at Architecture St. Louis, the office of Landmarks Association, 911 Washington Avenue, Suite 170. Free and open to the public. The exhibit will be open through July and can be viewed 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

There is also a coordinating series of lectures about Lost Neighborhoods in St. Louis which is listed below.

View of Lucas Place during a parade in 1895.

Lucas Place on parade, 1895

Landmarks Association and Campbell House Museum are sponsoring this program in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.MOHuman

Lecture Series: Lost Neighborhoods of St. Louis 

Monday, April 1: Bob Moore, Chief Historian at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial – Bob will discuss Colonial St. Louis and lead a digital tour of his 3D model of the town. 12:00-1:15. (Kranzberg Arts Center).

Thursday, April 4: Bob Moore – Bob will follow his discussion of Colonial St. Louis with an examination of Early American St. Louis. 12:00-1:15. (Kranzberg Arts Center).

Thursday, April 11: Ron “Johnny Rabbit” Elz – Gaslight Square. Ron will discuss the people, buildings, and venues that defined one of St. Louis’ greatest entertainment districts. (Gaslight Theater, 358 N. Boyle. Doors at 7:00, presentation 7:30-9:00). * This is an evening lecture. 

Thursday, April 18: Dr. Huping Ling, Professor of History and founder of the Asian Studies Program at Truman State University – Professor Ling will discuss the 19th and 20th century Chinese enclave that once thrived in downtown St. Louis. 6:30-8:00. Kranzberg Arts Center. * This is an evening lecture. 

Thursday, April 25: Michael Allen, architectural historian and director of the Preservation Research Office, – Michael will discuss the DeSoto-Carr Neighborhood and its successor, the Pruitt-Igoe Housing Complex. 12:00-1:15. (Kranzberg Arts Center).

Thursday, May 2: Andy Hahn, Director, Campbell House Museum, and historian Tom Gronski- Andy and Tom will discuss the buildings and residents of Lucas Place. 12:00-1:15. (Kranzberg Arts Center).

Thursday, May 9: Thomas Danisi, local historian and author of the critically acclaimed book Discovering Meriwether Lewis – Thomas will discuss his new research into early settlement of the St. Louis Common Fields. 12:00-1:15. (Kranzberg Arts Center).

The Kranzberg Arts Center is located at 501 N. Grand in Grand Center. Street parking or at the Scottish Rite Garage, 3634 Olive. Feel free to bring lunch to the daytime talks. Talks are free and open to the public.

For more information please call 314-421-0325.