The Lafayette Square Restoration Committee is pleased to present this issue of the Marquis, and to welcome you to the 50th anniversary of the Spring Home and Garden Tour!
Our theme, “Lafayette Square Saved a Place for You,” has been 50 years in the making.
When I learned in 2012 that I would be moving full-time to St. Louis from the east coast, I knew very little about the city or its many neighborhoods. I was living in an apartment in another neighborhood and working long hours, and the only exploring I did was to take my dog to the various city parks for some fresh air: Forest Park, Tower Grove Park, Benton Park—my little Lucille loved them all.
Walking through the gates of Lafayette Park, though, something felt different. Maybe it was the historic homes surrounding the park, maybe it was the ornate, wrought-iron fence, maybe it was the arched bridge over the grotto. Having spent only minutes in Lafayette Square, I called my husband—still on the east coast awaiting his full-time transfer to St. Louis, as well—and told him that I’d found where we would live. A swan floated by. I was home.
About a year later, I told this story to a neighbor who’s lived here since the 70s. I assumed he’d think it sounded unreasonably impulsive, but he wasn’t surprised in the least. He told me, “You don’t choose Lafayette Square; Lafayette Square chooses you.”
I’ve since learned that my story isn’t really that unique and that my neighbor was right: most Lafayette Square neighbors have a story of how they felt inexplicably drawn to call our little oasis home.
Lafayette Square pioneers—the forward-thinking home-buyers and -restorers of the 1960s and 70s—knew the feeling of being chosen by Lafayette Square, and they bet that others would, too.
These pioneers knew that, although the once-prestigious neighborhood had so declined that it was declared “Slum D” at the end of WWII, the neighborhood could be restored to its original splendor with historic designation and hard work.
The pioneers rehabbed the houses, worked in the park, and beautified the green spaces. In 1969, they began inviting visitors to house tours in an effort to bring awareness to the area and to attract would-be neighbors.
It worked. Over the last 50 years of house tours, Lafayette Square has chosen many neighbors, and the Spring Home and Garden Tour and the Holiday Parlor Tour have become the largest sources of funding in the neighborhood. These pioneers not only saved a place, but they saved a place for all of us—not only to visit, but also to call home—and we’re all the more grateful for their work on this 50th anniversary of the house tours.
We hope you enjoy everything the tour brings in addition to our wonderful homes: local food, an antique fair, trolley rides, and a vintage base ball tournament in the park. We invite you to take home a commemorative poster as a way to remember this landmark event.
And we’d love to see your Lafayette Square perspective: tag our Instagram (@lafayettesquarestl) and check out others’ photos.
On behalf of the LSRC, I hope you enjoy this issue of the Marquis, the tour, and all our wonderful neighborhood has to offer. If you’re already a neighbor, I’m glad that Lafayette Square chose you, and if you’re a tour visitor, I wonder, “Will Lafayette Square choose you?” After all, we’ve saved a place for you.