Designed by William Rumbold–who also aided in the design of the Old Courthouse–when St. Louis was still in St. Louis County, the giant edifice that was once called the Insane Asylum dominates the southwestern portion of the city, on the highest elevation.
I love the front colonnade; its columns are far too large for the size of the pediment, but that’s what I love about American architecture: always breaking the rules in favor of innovation.
Accompanying a group of middle schools students, I was given access with the children to the cupola, which contrary to popular opinion, was not the location of the head doctor’s office. It is a stunning structure, and along the way, as you can see above, craftsmanship was everywhere, even in closed areas.
The cupola is reached by a work of art in itself, a free standing spiral staircase, held up by only the central iron post covering with wainscoting.
The view, of course, is spectacular.
I will be giving a short talk about 1870s St. Louis on Tuesday, April 11 at 10:30 AM at the Missouri History Museum as a part of “St. Louis – The Fourth City: An Era of Greatness.”