Monday, October 26, 2015

A Home in Ebsworth Park

One last posting from St. Louis.  We certainly had a typical cool fall day when we visited this house last Saturday.  And to clarify where Ebsworth Park is located, especially for those of you who live in St.Louis and never have heard of the park, it can be found in the Sugar Creek Valley of Kirkwood.  It is a county park which comprises the home and grounds of Russel and Ruth Kraus.   Their home, completed in 1955, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  It is one of 60 Usonian homes designed by the architect during the period of time (around 1936 onward) when the American economy was taking a downturn and there was a demand for middle-income family homes.
I at first, with camera in hand, wandered around the home looking for the front part of it.  Silly me, I should have remembered from visiting other Frank Llloyd Wright homes, that there usually is not an obvious front entrance.  Pictured above is the main entrance, and where we entered the building to begin our guided tour.  Before we entered the house our tour guide pointed out the bricks, which are in the shape of parallelograms.  They had to be specially made, and the only company who was willing to do it in the 1950s was a brick company in Alton, Illinois. At that time there was also only one contractor willing to take on the construction of the home.  The home is pictured below, perhaps you can get a general idea of how it looks on the outside.  It does look like a typical  F.L.Wright house, you may remember that his buildings have an emphasis on horizontal lines.  It was the best shot I could get of the outside.
John thinks that it is somewhat in the shape of a trapezoid.  I do not remember much from my high school geometry class, but there is some kind of a connection between parallelograms, trapezoids, hexagons and triangles.  Oh, throw in right angles while you are contemplating them!  Pictured below is the patio area, which encompasses the front entrance.
Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside of the house, but all of the geometric shapes mentioned above are continued inside; in the walls and ceilings, book shelves and furniture.  The later are original to the home and designed by F.L.Wright.  There are two bedrooms in the home, in one bedroom the bed is hexagonal and in the master bedroom the bed is in the shape of a trapezoid. They had to be custom made.  If Russel and Ruth Kraus had children (which they did not) I am sure they would have aced their geometry classes!  As we were exiting the house John, ever the practical one, expressed concern that there no gutters.  Oops, that would not have been a F.L Wright house if there were gutters.  His buildings are all about artistic design, not practicality.  The house in the early years also did not have central air conditioning.  Wright's advice to Mr. and Mrs. Kraus was to open up the doors and windows.  Maybe he never lived in Missouri during the summer!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Touring Around Missouri

It has certainly become cooler now here in St.Louis, but for a variety  of reasons beyond our control, we will still continue to reside here.  Hopefully we will be heading south in another week.
Last week we rode on our bikes over the Creve Coeur Connector path which crosses the Missouri River.  The bridge, called the Page Avenue/364 bridge, connects the Katy Trail on the west end to the southwest corner of Creve Coeur Park.  There is an section of that bridge which has a variety of locks hanging from it.  This practice of hanging the locks and throwing away the key symbolizes unbroken love.  Names and wedding dates are on the locks.  It started during World War 1 in many cities around the world.   Leaders of some of those cities consider it an act of vandalism and have removed the locks, especially when their combined weight starts damaging the fence from which they are hanging. 
Saturday we made a trip down to Farmington, Missouri for John's high school reunion (class of 1959).  The leaves of some trees are now starting to turn, pictured above is a red maple tree which became flaming red with the sun setting on it.  The tree is located in the front yard of Carolyn's home.  She is John's sister who resides in Farmington.
Yesterday, Sunday, we made a trip down to Perry County, located in the southeastern corner of Missouri.  Pictured above is Trinity Lutheran church, built in 1867.  In 1839 700 Saxon Lutherans settled in the county and formed the parishes of Wittenberg, Dresden, Seelitz, Altenberg, and Frohna.  Trinity Church is located in the town of Altenberg.  We found the altar to be quite unusual with the pulpit located above it.
After spending some time at the museum in Altenberg we discovered that our day was about shot and there was no time to look at the other Lutheran historical sights in Perry County.  However, we did drive over to the river to see if there was a marker for the landing site of the Saxon Lutherans.  Unfortunately it would have been a difficult climb down to that site at the river's edge. While exploring the area we happened to see the Tower Rock,  a mass of limestone arising 85 feet out of the Mississippi River.  In 1696 Catholic missionaries planted a cross on that island.  In 1803 Lewis and Clark passed by this section of the river,  Lewis found the rock so interesting that he wrote about it in his journal. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Faust Historical Village

This village is located in Faust Park.  The park was created by Leicester and Mary Plant Faust in 1968 with the intention to preserve the Thornhill house.  The Faust estate, now the home of the Community Music School of Webster Groves, is also on the grounds of the park.   An interesting side note here, Leicester Faust was the grandson of Adolphus Busch, founder of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.
The Thornhill house, pictured above, was built from 1815-1820.  Frederick Bates was appointed Territorial Secretary of the new Louisiana Territory by President Thomas Jefferson in the early 1800s.  He was later, from 1824-25 Missouri's second governor.  In 1819, at the age of 41, Frederick Bates married his sixteen year-old neighbor from back home in Virginia.  They settled here at Thornhill and raised four children.  Unfortunately the house was not open for us to tour, but we still enjoyed walking around the estate and looking at the original out-buildings which include several barns, a distillery for the peach brandy they made, smokehouse and a corn granary.  There is also a small peach orchard and maple grove.
In another area of the park is the historic village which have homes built between 1840-1919.  They have been moved to the park from various areas of St.Louis County.  They vary from modest homes of immigrants to two-story more sophisticated buildings owned by established landowners.  A German immigrant and brick maker, Henry Hoch, built the above home in 1876.  Part of the rear is a wood framed structure.  Besides four rebuilt homes, the village also has a schoolhouse, carriage house, barn,, a mercantile, and a blacksmith shop.  Outside some of the buildings are various artifacts from the 1800s, as the dog mill for churning butter, which is pictured below.  A sign near this mill notes that the settlers used dogs for a variety of chores, besides churning butter dogs were also useful for turning the fireside spits.
Another interesting artifact which we saw in a barn was a guillotine, invented by Dr.Joseph Guillotin in 1792.  It was widely used during the French Revolution, and considered  more humane than drawing and quartering people!  Dr. Guillotin was part of a small reform group to abolish the death penalty.
We had a beautiful fall day for touring the park.  Mother Nature is still pretty with her colorful leaves which are now changing their colors, and many flowers are still in bloom as a frost has not happened as yet here in Missouri.  The trees pictured above have red berries on them, not cherry blossoms- wrong season for that!
Time for us to head south, but that will not be possible for a couple more weeks.