An Intersection of Saint Louis Lives, Times and Places
Lucas and Garrison is an eclectic collection of historical research, audio files, text, photographs, and biographical sketches intersected by the history of Central Presbyterian Church in Saint Louis. The project began as the relics of the church, which was started in 1844, were assembled, digitized and archived. The work eventually morphed into a more extensive historical research study to better understand the motivation of earlier city leaders to intentionally improve the quality of life in Saint Louis late in the 19th Century. It is about digging deep and unearthing some inspirational city stories that might teach us more about the people and places of an exciting time long past.
The Thinking Behind Lucas and Garrison
Every life has a story to tell. What can we learn from the stories of Saint Louis’ past? We think the lives, times and places of an earlier era of growth and progress in Saint Louis can be instructive and inspirational for us today. Many Saint Louisans over time have chosen to devote themselves to doing what is right for their community and it has made a significant difference. History can be a great teacher. Now is a great time to learn.
Lucas and Garrison 1875 is about discovering and telling some of these Saint Louis stories. It’s about wandering down historical rabbit trails to see what can be discovered about Saint Louis people, times and places. The City of Saint Louis has a long, rich and intriguing history with more stories than can be told. To make this quest more doable, we need some boundaries for our journeys, some opening parameters. This journal will tell the tales that are discovered as we consider lives that were lived during Saint Louis’ golden era, 1870-1890. Many of those lives still impact and benefit the city of Saint Louis today. Their lives mattered. The common denominator in many of these stories is that these were leaders of character.
The Scope of the Project
Today internet research provides an extensive amount of information through old directories, pamphlets and books written about the period we are exploring. Most notably, 1875 was the year that Camille N. Dry created and Richard J. Compton published an exhaustive set of 110 maps titled, “1875 Pictorial St. Louis – Metropolis of the Mississippi Valley. ” One of the first stories will be to learn more about this almost-unbelievable topographical survey which was featured in a 2015/16 exhibit at the Missouri Historical Society in Saint Louis.
Each of the 110 Dry and Compton directory maps or plates includes a list of people who resided in that specified area of the city. These were often prominent city residents who helped pay for the publication of the maps. Residences and businesses referenced on the maps are numbered so we know exactly where people lived or worked in 1875. Old city directories pinpoint their addresses even more accurately.
The Corner of Lucas and Garrison
Central Presbyterian Church, now located at Hanley and Davis in Clayton, was established in Saint Louis in 1844 first at the corner of 6th and St. Charles and next at the corner of 8th and Locust. During the building of the great Eads Bridge over the Mississippi River in the early 1870s, railroad tunnels were also constructed to connect the bridge to the rail terminals farther south and west. The foundation of the 8th and Locust church was so rattled by the tunnel excavation and blasting that the building was eventually condemned requiring an unforeseen move. The church leaders bought property to move west and architect Charles Ramsey designed a beautiful new building to be built at the northeast corner of Lucas and Garrison. The church was to be completed in 1876. That new church, even though not yet completed, was included on Plate 71 of the Compton and Dry maps in 1875.
Many of the people living in close proximity to the intersection of Lucas and Garrison and listed on Plate 71 were prominent leaders who lived fascinating lives – Saint Louis luminaries whose stories have been lost or forgotten over time. Exploring the lives of these Saint Louisans will be the basis of the profiles that we will assemble. Many were very successful, and they gave back to the city they loved.
Rabbit Trails, Back Stories and Coincidences
The initial research targets will be the 104 names listed on Plate 71. We know that many of the residents living around Lucas and Garrison in 1875 were remarkable people who lived intriguing and eventful lives and made a difference in their community. Their stories are fascinating. Often their stories lead us down rabbit trails, back stories and coincidences of Saint Louis history. This is the thrill of the journey – unchartered, obsessive research simply for the sake of seeing where it will take us! When the “Following a Rabbit Trail” marker appears on a page or post, simply click on it to follow that trail for more information.
Possibly Interesting, But So What?
The study and contemplation of history should not just entertain and increase our base of knowledge. We should also gain wisdom. We should learn from our previous triumphs and failures? Wisdom should help us to determine what truly matters in life, how to best actualize our highest calling and live valuable, productive, mutually beneficial lives. As wisdom is intentionally applied, not only individual lives but the culture at large can and should be changed for the better. We can’t alter our past, but shouldn’t studying and understanding the lessons of previous generations give us the wisdom to sculpt a better future?
After many centuries of cultural evolution, mankind should be doing a lot better. The pursuit and application of wisdom should be an instructive guide as to how we should live. But that would take all of us cooperating to use our knowledge, gifts, energy and resources to turn it around. It is a daunting responsibility, but we owe it to future generations to do better.