Lyon Park

Update: The bronze plaque visible in the photos above and below was stolen sometime in the last couple of years. There is no explanation of when it happened, or who may have stolen it. There seems to be no plans to replace it. This is one of many bronze plaques stolen from monuments around St. Louis in the last decade.

To say Lyon Park is forgotten is an understatement. Other than some softball leagues who play there in the summer, I have never really seen anyone there when I go by. But the memorial to the Union general, Nathaniel Lyon, who captured Fort Jackon in the early weeks of the Civil War, is worth visiting.

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The statue group itself is not really particularly well done, and a far cry from the masterpiece in Peoria I photographed last year.

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In ancient Roman civilization, the fasces represented the power of many bound together in pursuit of the common good, while the axe symbolized the power to kill in order to attain it.

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This bronze low-relief placard depicts the surrender of the militia at the corner of Lindell and Grand.

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There’s another Egyptian Revival monument, an obelisk, in another corner of the park.

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Interestingly, the plinth, though sculpted to look like masonry, seems to be a single block of pink granite.

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The topography of the park seems unchanged; it undulates and rises and falls; I do not think it was ever graded.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. samizdat says:

    A lot of German names on that commemorative plaque. No wonder the podunk Missour-ah Confederate State of ‘Merka hates St. Louis. If it weren’t fer dem German’s, we’d still be a slave state, if the Confederate side had a say in it.

    Knowing the modern history of the fasces (a symbol of fascism in Mussolini’s Italy, and the word from which fascism is drawn), it’s a little strange seeing it in this context.

    1. Tom Maher - Kirkwood MO says:

      I don’t think the fasces had quite the same meaning in 1929 as it later developed. Of course, Mussolini was in power then, but I doubt it mattered much to St Louisans of the day.

      You are certainly correct about the attitude of Missourahns toward St. Louis (and Kansas City), bastions of the despised bluebellies It continues to this day.

      1. Chris Naffziger says:

        Probably not, Tom, you’re right. But people love their historic iconography!

      2. samizdat says:

        Hence my modifier ‘modern history’.

        The death-grip some rural Missourians have on their hatred of STL and KC is mighty peculiar. I don’t doubt that these people are in the minority, but unfortunately there are those who find this hatred easily manipulated to their own extremist right-wing designs (Koch brothers, I’m looking at you and your dead daddy, who founded the John Birch Society).

        1. Tom Maher - Kirkwood MO says:

          I’d think ‘1929’ was as modern as was ‘1933.’

          Again, you are certainly correct in your second paragraph.

  2. Tom Maher - Kirkwood MO says:

    The memorial to Gen. Lyon formerly stood across from SLU, at the intersection of Grand and West Pine, near the actual site of the action at Camp Jackson (kind of at West Pine and Spring).
    If memory serves (Uh-oh!), there was originally a flat wall attached to the back of the monument, rising above the statuary. This gave the appearance of the horse flattened against the wall, almost appearing to emerge from it, and the General looked like he was toppling from the horse. For years, it was voted the ‘ugliest statuary in St. Louis.’

    While the obelisk has always been at Lyon Park, there is an interesting story behind the removal of the statue…
    When I was at SLU in 1960, Harriet Frost Fordyce, the daughter of rebel Daniel Frost, commander of Camp Jackson, donated a million dollars (BIG bucks in 1960!) to SLU, with the proviso that the statue honoring Lyon be moved to Lyon Park.
    It was moved – money talked…

    1. samizdat says:

      I’m getting the distinct impression–based upon this and other stories–that there is a deeply dark and diseased current of hatred running through SLU’s history.

      1. Tom Maher - Kirkwood MO says:

        I don’t know about that ‘hatred’ – to me the Frost/Lyon statue affair was just a case of money talking and someone doing the bidding of a benefactor.
        Ms. Frost Fordyce later donated the family’s estate in Hazelwood to SLU, OKing its sale for dollars for SLU’s current retreat compound in South County (Jeff Co?).
        Back then, all Catholic students had to go on a retreat during the school year at the old Hazelwood antebellum mansion – or go during Spring Break at the campus. I did one at the mansion and, while quite interesting, I thought it was a firetrap.

        Back in the ’60s – and before – SLU was definitely not the juggernaut it has since become.

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