Photo of Tower Grove Park courtesy of Cultural Landscape Foundation
The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) recently announced What’s Out There St. Louis and the Missouri River Valley featuring more than two dozen free, expert-led tours of parks, gardens, campuses, and open spaces throughout the area. The event is scheduled for the weekend of September 24-25.
The Washington, D.C.-based organization maintains the nation’s most comprehensive searchable database of historic designed landscapes. There are currently 2,400 sites, 12,000 images and 1,200 designer profiles on the website.
According to the website, TCLF tours enable people to discover the design history of places they may pass every day but don’t necessarily know about. Expert guides will provide rich stories, personal anecdotes, and keen observations about each site, landscape architecture, city shaping, and garden design (all tours are free, but attendance is limited and registration is required). The St. Louis region’s landscape legacy includes myriad parks and plazas, cultural institutions, and historic sites and neighborhoods, including the Katy Trail, Forest Park, the Missouri Botanical Garden, Gateway Arch National Park, Dutchtown, and many others (see list that follows).
Achieving the recognition St. Louis deserves for its rich and varied landscape has been a tireless effort on the part of several St. Louisans. Among the advocates are garden designer and former CWEnder Mary Morgan and Dan Burkhardt of Magnificent Missouri. Morgan first learned of the Cultural Landscape Foundation while taking a landscape architecture course in the south of France with the organization’s president and CEO Charles Birnbaum in 2019.
Morgan explained: “When I learned about TCLF’s What’s Out There series, I got hooked on the idea of having one for St. Louis. I especially wanted this to happen to bring positive, favorable attention to a city that so often and so unfairly gets a bad rap—if it isn’t being ignored altogether. St. Louis has an extraordinary legacy, complemented by its environs. And many who live here don’t begin to recognize the extent of what we’ve got, the “coasts” certainly don’t.”
At a lecture in the Fall of 2019, Morgan heard Magnificent Missouri’s Dan Burkhardt and his wife Connie discuss their often frustrating conservation efforts on behalf of the bluffs of the Missouri River. She realized that Burkhardt’s stewardship goals were a good fit with the work of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, and asked him to join her in a fundraising campaign. They enlisted the help of other St. Louisans, institutions, and foundations to bring What’s Out There to town. (The list of sponsors can be found at the end of this post.)
As part of the upcoming What’s Out There weekend, TCLF will produce a printed guidebook that includes the tour sites (available for purchase and free as a downloadable PDF). TCLF will also create an ever-growing digital St. Louis and the Missouri River Valley City Guide, which will launch with at least 50 sites and 50 designer profiles. TCLF maintains the guide in perpetuity.
As you peruse the offerings listed below, many are “off the beaten path” offering a wonderful opportunity to explore places you may have never been. Tour groups are small, so sign up early. The registration button follows the schedule.
SATURDAY – September 24
Forest Park: The Jewel Box | 9:00 – 10:00 AM | led by Ted Spaid (SWT Design)
O’Fallon Park | 9:00 – 10:00 AM | led by Constance Siu (North Newstead Association) and Casey Ringenberg (North Newstead Association)
Fort Bellefontaine | 10:00 – 11:00 AM | led by Tom Hoff (St. Louis County Parks)
The Ville | 10:00 – 11:30 AM | led by Aaron Williams (4TheVille)
Weldon Spring Site Interpretive Center | 10:00 – 11:30 AM | led by Lia Bartnicki (Weldon Spring Site Interpretive Center)
Tower Grove Park: Nee Kee Nee | 10:00 – 11:30 AM | Chris Sanders (Lamar Johnson Collaborative)
Pulitzer Arts Foundation “Park-Like” | 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM | Chris Carl (Studio Land Arts)
Missouri Botanical Garden: Climatron | 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM | led by Missouri Botanical Garden Docents
Bellefontaine Cemetery | 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM | led by Joe Shields (Bellefontaine Cemetery & Arboretum)
Forest Park: Art Hill | 12:00 – 1:00 PM | led by Ted Spaid (SWT Design)
Jefferson Barracks | 12:00 – 1:00 PM | led by Tom Hoff (St. Louis County Parks)
Citygarden | 12:00 – 1:30 PM | led by Christian Kochuba (Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects)
Greenwood Cemetery | 12:30 – 2:00 PM | led by Raphael Morris (Greenwood Cemetery Preservation Association) and Etta Daniels (Greenwood Cemetery Preservation Association)
Missouri Botanical Garden: History of the Garden | 1:00 – 2:30 PM | led by Missouri Botanical Garden Docents
Peers Country Store | 1:00 – 1:45 PM | led by Dan Burkhardt (Magnificent Missouri) and Connie Burkhardt (Magnificent Missouri)
Dutchtown | 1:00 – 2:30 PM | led by NiNi Harris (Author/Historian)
Treloar Country Store | 2:00 – 2:45 PM | led by Dan Burkhardt (Magnificent Missouri) and Connie Burkhardt (Magnificent Missouri)
Gateway Mall | 2:00 – 3:00 PM | led by Michael Allen (National Building Arts Center)
Fairground Park | 2:00 – 3:00 PM | led by Michael E. Willis, FAIA (MWA Architects (ret.))
Laumeier Sculpture Park | 2:00 – 3:30PM | led by Laumeier Sculpture Park Docents
SUNDAY – September 25
Tower Grove Park: Trivers Tour of Pavilions | 10:00 – 11:30 AM | led by Amy Gilbertson (Trivers) and Hallie Nolan (Trivers)
Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM | led by Nick Sacco (National Park Service)
Washington University in St. Louis: East End Transformation/Tisch Park | 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM | led by Jeff Morrisey (Washington University in St. Louis) and Anu Samarajiva (Arbolope Studio)
Downtown Hermann | 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM | led by Visit Hermann Docents (City of Hermann)
Forest Park: History of the World’s Fair | 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM | led by Amanda Clark (Missouri Historical Society)
Missouri Botanical Garden: Japanese Garden | 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM | led by Missouri Botanical Garden Docents
Gateway National Arch | 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM | led by Luke Ness (Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates) and Pamela K. Sanfilippo (Gateway Arch National Park)
Laclede’s Landing | 12:00 – 1:30 PM | led by Lonny Boring (Great Rivers Greenway) and Josiah Gundersen (Missouri Historical Society)
Missouri Botanical Garden: Historical Architecture of the Garden | 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM | led by Missouri Botanical Garden Docents
Tower Grove Park: Tree Restoration Walk | 1:00 – 2:30 PM | Paul Toenjes (SWT Design)
Deutschheim State Historic Site | 1:30 – 3:00 PM| led by Missouri State Parks Docents
Lafayette Park | 2:00 – 3:00 PM | led by John Hoal (H3 Studio)
Soldiers Memorial Military Museum | 2:00 – 3:00 PM | led by Mark Sundlov (Soldiers Memorial) and Michelle Ohle (DTLS)