Publisher: Arcadia Publishing Library Editions
Book theme: State & Local, General
Author: Albert J Montesi & Richard Deposki
Item Number (DPCI): 247-32-1857
Lafayette Square has always been a reflection of the life and times of St. Louis, Missouri. Originally a common land where cattle grazed and people hunted game, the area was set aside as a public park just before the Civil War. Following that era, Lafayette Square was developed into a showplace for the Victorian era, featuring fantastic gardens, gazebos, a bandstand, an aquarium, and a boathouse. On May 27, 1896, a tornado plowed through the area and destroyed most of its foliage and buildings. Following this tragedy, many homeowners fled to the Central West End, and the once elegant Lafayette Square fell into a state of decline. During the years of the Depression and World War II, the neighborhood and its surroundings became known as "Slum D." In 1945, architect and historian John Albury Bryan purchased a residence at Benton Place and began a fierce and lonely battle to renovate the Square. His dream of restoration became a reality in the 1960s and 1970s when a group of concerned citizens, determined to recapture the area's former glory, banded together to form the Lafayette Restoration Committee.