When I moved to Lafayette Square in 1990, the neighborhood was covered with weeds, “stink” (Tree of Life) trees, broken glass bottles, abandoned tires and car batteries. Two-thirds of the homes were in some stage of rehab. The rest might consist of only a shell with no roof and no back wall. The joke is that it took 2.5 marriages to rehab one of these homes. We have come a long way! And that journey was attended by neighbors who laid the brick sidewalks, cleaned up abandoned lots and began planting to cover eyesores until rehabbing or new replica construction could begin.
It was at this time that the Lafayette Square Beautification Committee began as a volunteer group organized to combine the people and resources to help beautify the neighborhood. While many St. Louis area university affiliated student groups, organizations and businesses come to help us in the spring and fall, it is our amazing community of volunteers who have made this neighborhood a green oasis in the city.
Thanks to all of you, from secret neighborhood weed pullers and trash removers to organizations such as Brightside St. Louis and Gateway Greening. Thanks also to St. Louis University and Washington University students; our Alderpersons – Jack Coatar and Christine Ingrassia; the St Louis City Water Division; the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Divisions; the Park Avenue Business District, including Square One, SqWires, Nu-Look Cleaners and Rafael Adon; our neighbors who adopt spaces to weed and water including Brian Simpson, Tim Bolt, Mary and David Visintainer, Jennifer Henderson, Matt Negri, Creighton Brinson, Gary Wiegert, Carolyn McAvoy, Linda Pallmann, Marilyn Lane, Robert Bischoff, Susan Pinker-Dodd, Roy Peterson, Carolyn Willmore, Gwen Williams, Vicky Houghton, Linda Skinner, J. Watson Scott, Gary Seeman, Blake Frey, Merry and Tom Dahms, Erik Dahms, Houston Smith, Sheri and Frank Mistretta, Bob Pinkowski and Beverly McClain, Ellen McCreery and Tina Stacy. Our roam-about work party volunteers are many and include Danita Davis, David Roberts, Lynne Nabors, Don Heus, Mary Otto, Crista Olson, Mitchell Hunt, John Herlihy, James Wilson, Julia LaBelle, Mark Daniels, Dixie Gillaspie, Ron Taylor, Kyle Gerstner, Nancy and John Lemmo, and Laurie Asche.
I’m sure I have left someone out, and I apologize in advance! Lafayette Square does hire an amazing contractor to help, but we could all afford to pay for the planting, weeding and watering without a horde of help from neighbors and the community. Many thanks to Committee members Matt Negri, Jennifer Henderson, Mitch Hunt and Frank Mistretta. If you would like to volunteer, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.