Day 415 - St. Louis
Although the “Gateway to the West” arch by Finnish-American architect Eeero Saarinen is the greatest landmark of St. Louis, Sweden can take pride in structures devoted to Linnaeus and Charles Lindbergh and rejoice in the two public fountains of Carl Milles.
Two Carl Milles fountains grace public spaces in St. Louis. In Aloe Plaza is Meeting of the Waters, also known as Wedding of the Rivers, Milles’s first monumental fountain designed for an American city. (Aloe Plaza is opposite Union Station on the north side of Market Street between Eighteenth and Twentieth Streets.) The Mississippi River is symbolized by a twelve-foot male figure riding a dolphin escorted by four tritons. He is meeting his bride, the Missouri River, attended by four sea nymphs. The plaza and fountain were dedicated in 1940. In Laumeier Sculpture Park, 12580 Rott Road (314-821-1209), is Milles’s sculpture Folke Filbyten an equestrian statue that is a replica of one standing in the central square in Linköping, Östergötland.
The oldest greenhouse west of the Allegheny Mountains is the Linnean House in the Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard (314-577-9400; 800- 642-8862; www.mobot.org). Honoring Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus (Carl von Linné; 1707-1778), the Linnean House was completed in 1882, the work of Henry Shaw, the garden’s founder, Because he could see the Linnean House from his home, he made it the most ornate of the garden’s three greenhouses. Three busts grace the main entrance; the central one is Linnaeus, flanked by two nineteenth-century American botanists, Thomas Nuttall and Asa Gray.
Shaw originally built the Linnean House as an orangery, but it has had several different uses. After a 1977 restoration, funded in part by the Swedish Council of St. Louis, the house is now the dramatic setting for the garden’s camellia collections. Sculptor Paul Granlund is represented with his sculpture Zerogee. The Missouri Botanical Garden’s library (314-577-5155) has a collection of rare books containing nearly every edition and translation of Linnaeus’s writings, as well as works by his students and colleagues. The botanical garden also features the Milles Sculpture Garden, which includes Two Girls Dancing (1917), Sun Glitter (1918), Orpheus Fountain Figures (1936), and Angel Musicians (1949-1950).
Aviator and Swedish American Charles A. Lindbergh Jr. (1902-1974), who piloted the first nonstop transatlantic flight from New York to Paris, is honored at the Jefferson Memorial in Forest Park. A bust of Lindbergh dated 1939 is inscribed, “In flying, I tasted a wine of the gods.” Lindbergh contributed items from his flight to the Missouri Historical Society (314-746-4599) in appreciation for the support from St. Louis citizens who helped organize the construction and flights of the Spirit of St. Louis. A main artery west of the city is named Lindbergh Boulevard.
Other St. Louis Swedish landmarks include the former Swedish National Society Building at 1157 Kings Highway Boulevard and the Gethsemane Lutheran Church, which was founded in 1894 by Swedish nail makers. The church’s sanctuary built in 1961, stands at 3600 Hampton Avenue (314-352-8050).
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