St. Louisí Victorian parks
Southwest Garden
Edna Campos Gravenhorst.
Charleston, SC : Arcadia Pub, 2008.
The Southwest Garden neighborhood borders two internationally known St. Louis landmarks, the Missouri Botanical Garden, founded in 1859, and Tower Grove Park, established in 1868. The land for both the garden and the park was donated by their founder, Henry Shaw, a botanist and philanthropist. Both destinations are designated as national historic landmarksathe garden is one of the oldest in the United States, and the park shares the honor of being on the National Register of Historic Places with only three other municipal parks in the nation. The botanical garden is the best place to start a historical walking tour of the Southwest Garden neighborhood.
Henry Shaw's Victorian landscapes : the Missouri Botanical Garden and Tower Grove Park
Carol Grove.
Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, in association with Library of American Landscape History, c2005.
Grove (landscape studies, U. of Missouri-Columbia) recounts the transformation of Henry Shaw's (1800-1889) estate, Tower Grove, in St. Louis into what is now the Missouri Botanical Garden. He opened the garden in 1859, then added 276 acres for the Tower Grove Park, which were designed using the gardenesque approach that allows room for viewing and emphasizes the characteristics of individual species. Grove describes Shaw's life from his birth in England to his immigration to America and ensuing business and financial accomplishments, and explains how he developed the garden and park, influences on him, experts who consulted with him, and how it reflected American society at the time. Interspersed throughout the text are b #38;w photos of the grounds, plans, and visitors at the garden. Annotation #169;2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Parks, plants, and people : beautifying the urban landscape
Lynden B. Miller.
New York : Norton, c2009.
Miller is a public garden designer and director of The Conservatory Garden in New York City's Central Park, and she has written this beautifully illustrated volume to describe her vision of a successful public space. Written for landscape architects, designers, city planners and general audiences, this book describes the author's strategies for designing and maintaining year-round plantings, attracting private funding and creating spaces that will have a positive effect on both local economies and the well-being of citizens. The author also describes how the creating of public gardens and parks can lower crime and foster pride in communities. Annotation c2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Lafayette Park and Tower Grove Park are perfect examples of Victorian strolling parks that contain jewels of architectural design. Victorian walking parks were planned with the idea of entertaining the eye of those who entered their gates. They were meant to be edifying, too.

Fanciful structures like gazebos at Tower Grove, each one different, enhanced the view and added visual interest. The Chinese pavilion, a tiny piece of Oriental splendor, reflected the popularity of the Far East. It was complete with groupings of gingko trees native to Japan. The large Turkish Pavilion with its gay red striped top added a note of cheer and contrasted nicely with surrounding greenery.

We now come to the class of park visitors the most numerous and most important, to whom the enjoyments of green grass, trees and fresh air is most essential, to those who will come probably not to ride in the park but to walk. It is for these that our plans have been carefully designedÖ

Henry Shaw on developing Tower Grove Park, a strolling park for citizens of St. Louis

The Victorians loved follies and romantic vignettes. Henry Shaw installed broken stones from an old hotel in a grouping to look like Roman ruins in Tower Grove Park. The rustic gazebo in Lafayette Park with its thatched roof and twig frame evoked a simpler, peaceful past. The grotto in Lafayette Park, made with exotic blossom rock, was best viewed from a small bridge. It was a scene of quiet beauty.

These structures and more enhance the natural environment of the parks. Today the Parks serve as recreational and social centers as they did at the turn of the century.  Our experience in the Parks includes rich visual experiences, thanks to those who planned the Parks so long ago.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff