Well, I lied again. I’ve reset the plugin that posts my blog entries to Facebook so that it only posts to my Out the Backroom Window Facebook page. However, I forgot that the plugin posts to Twitter, which in turn posts back to my Facebook timeline. Still, I’ve reduced the clutter somewhat, and I’m leaving things as they are for the time being.
I’ve changed my blog header photo again. I took the new photo through a window at the back of the house that looks out over my neighbors’ roofs to the south, making it a photo almost literally out the backroom window.
I’m cheating a little, but just a little. The room whose window I used isn’t technically the back room, but it does qualify as a back room. I was experimenting with a new 85mm lens that’s pretty fast and so got the background nicely blurred. The two chimneys are parts of two different houses across a narrow gangway from one another.
I’ve written about Dr. King recently enough that I don’t want to do so again today, but perhaps the paragraphs below do him no dishonor. My beloved is off registering voters at today’s MLK celebration at Harris-Stowe University. I’m at home with a mild case of the crud, or I’d be there too.
So:—for those who find this blog’s heading interesting, the photo depicts Daniel French’s sculpture entitled Peace and Vigilance. It originally sat at the top of the front pediment of my city’s historic federal building, dedicated in a ceremony presided over by William Tecumseh Sherman in 1884 and known as The United States Custom House and Post Office. The building occupies the block bordered by Olive, Locust, Eighth and Ninth streets in the heart of old downtown Saint Louis.
It is now known as the Old Post Office, its original function and occupants having been moved elsewhere, including a substantial stock of gold bullion it was built to house. Today it is again fully occupied, housing The Missouri Court of Appeal, Eastern District, branches of Webster University and the Saint Louis Public Library, the office of former Missouri Governor, Bob Holden, the Saint Louis Business Journal, the Missouri Arts Council, and other enterprises. I took this photo one evening several years ago at a community forum about the city earnings tax. presided over by the League of Women Voters.
French’s original sculpture, shown in my photo, was removed from its pediment in 1970 and replaced by a cement copy. It was then restored and reinstalled in the Old Post Office’s central atrium as part of a restoration and redevelopment project that was completed in 2006. You can see what it looked like where it was originally installed (and where the copy now resides) here. And here’s another photo of the present installation from a different vantage point.
Because of the fear of fire the Old Post Office avoided wooden construction for the most part. Here are a couple of exceptions Here’s a photo of the restored service area with its beautiful old brass boxes and wooden framework.
And here’s a photo one of the old staircases rising from the main floor to the top of the building. The original basement was a vault with a moat around it. I’ve not been down there, but maybe one day I’ll take my camera and venture down.
In 1884 Saint Louis was one of the four or five fastest growing cities in the nation. We were eventually eclipsed by Chicago and other western cities, but in 1884 Saint Louis was the informal capital of the west. The new Custom House and Post Office was a recognition of Saint Louis’s importance to the expanding republic and also a monument to the republic’s reunification. Designed in 1872 and begun in the following year, it seems to have been well on its way to completion by the mid-1870s, as shown on this 1876 pictorial map of the city done by Richard Compton and Camille Dry. I’ve not been able to embed it satisfactorily, but I’m hoping this link will take you there. Be patient it will take a while to load.
The pictorial map is available online. It’s cumbersome to use because moving around in it takes a good deal of computer memory, but it’s also full of information and for antiquarians like me a great deal of fun. The part of the city where we live hadn’t yet been developed, the streets not yet cut through. But to the west of us Tower Grove Park is complete and just to the north of that is the future site of the Missouri Botanical Garden, showing Henry Shaw’s estate and his summer house, which we recently toured at the garden over the Thanksgiving holiday.
My beloved is just home from Harris-Stowe. She tells me the event was mobbed and that there were many Ferguson protesters. I suspect this will be on the nightly news amid accompanying misinformation. There’s a division here between old line civil rights activists and some of the Ferguson protesters. That’s a story for another day, too; though my beloved tells me proudly that she herself registered four protesters to vote.