Compton Hill Reservoir Park, Revisited November 2021

The shadows were growing long late on a Saturday when I decided to go by Reservoir Park in the Compton Heights neighborhood, which I realized I first photographed way back in October of 2007.

The park represents a time and place where civic architecture beautified even the most functional features of the St. Louis landscape. Based off the gardens of the Villa d’Este, which I visited in 2009 and 2018, it still is one of the most interesting and lesser known parks in St. Louis.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are other places, such as Meridian Hill Park in Washington, DC, that have been influenced by the Villa d’Este.

The grotesques are a classic symbol of this style of Sixteenth Century garden folly design. I was told that Bob Cassilly was commissioned to repair these sculptures after they had been damaged.

At the Villa d’Este, the massive amount of water pressure coming down the mountain causes the water to shoot and spray out of the various fountains. Here, the water sort of trickles out.

Still, it’s really wonderful we have this little bit of Italy here in St. Louis.

In a small niche down below, there is another mask with a fountain.

Up on top of the mound, which is one of the highest points in St. Louis, the restored wall around the reservoir runs around the summit.

Originally open to the elements, these pools were covered due concerns about particulate matter from coal burning settling to the clean water.

Richard Henry Fuhrmann, Compton Hill Reservoir, c. 1898, Missouri History Museum, P0764-00168-5g

There are wonderful views of the city from up top of the reservoir, which are even better when the leaves are off the trees, and also from the observation deck of the nearby tower.

At night, the views from the top of the tower are also spectacular.

There are broad steps that lead up from the corners of the reservoir, as well.

For comparison, see Eden Park in Cincinnati.

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