Lake Sherwood

Note: The streets around Lake Sherwood are private.

I recently was invited to visit Lake Sherwood in Overland, which is an artificially created lake created by the Laughlin Family. Henry Laughlin had originally acquired the property that was the headwaters of the River des Peres–yes the same River des Peres that empties out into the Mississippi River in South St. Louis, dozens of miles away in the late Nineteenth Century. The river began from water fed by a series of springs in a ravine that are now obscured by the lake.

As recounted by Henry Laughlin’s son, Robert, the originally dam was thirty feet deep, thirty feet wide and one hundred yards long, blocking off the ravine. The second dam was even larger: a larger earthen embankment 500 feet long, 60 feet high with 100 deep at the top and 300 feet deep at the base. Apparently it took a while to fill up with only the natural springs feeding the lake in 1897. Nowadays, the only time the lake feeds the River des Peres is when water travels into a spillway–most water for the river comes from other runoff further down its course.

Eventually, after a fair amount of arguing among the heirs of the property, the land was sold off and developed as two subdivisions in the mid Twentieth Century. Below, along the street that separates the two subdivisions on the west side of the lake is a remnant of the old Overland Trail, still preserved in trees planted in two parallel rows.

A student of Frank Lloyd Wright designed one home in the neighborhood.

While many other homes are typical of the houses built in the suburbs after World War II.

The original house built by the Laughlins still stands (you can see that throughout St. Louis County–where the landowner’s house still stands among later suburban homes).

It’s typical of homes built for the wealthy out in the country around the turn of the century.

The Laughlins named their estate Loch-Lin, or “Lakeland” in Gaelic (or at least their understanding of that ancient language), and I believe this is the old entryway to their land.

There is a newer sign for Lake Sherwood.

Lake Sherwood and the subdivisions that surround it are a fascinating, hidden corner of the metropolitan region. There is a diverse group of people who live around the lake today, and it’s amazing to think that this was once a quiet, rural retreat of a wealthy family far from the city.

But of course, the suburbs grew out to this once secluded spot. And the people who came out here also built houses of worship. I spotted these two interesting churches up off Lackland Road near the entrances to Lake Sherwood.

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