Wednesday, July 13, 2016
It seemed too soon to reminisce about the first half of our trip, which was filled with fun activities and meeting great people. But, as we packed for our next destination early in the morning, contemplated the great people we had met and the fun of visiting Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, Louisville, Lexington, and Frankfort.
But with St. Louis on our destination list for today, we hastened to pack and headed out at 4am, a bit groggy, but excited for the Midwest section of the trip.
The Old Courthouse, St. Louis
Five hours later, we were able to make our first stop: the Old Courthouse.
We were out on the road again until we reached St. Louis, Missouri where our first stop was the Old Courthouse. This courthouse is especially important because this is where the famous Dred Scott case was brought to trial. Dred Scott and his wife, Harriet, were slaves that filed a suit for their freedom against Irene Emerson, their slave owner. They tried to take advantage of the Missouri law that would allow them to buy their freedom, and after many years of hardship the judges finally came to a conclusion. In 1857, it was decided that they were not to be considered citizens of Missouri; therefore they could not sue for their freedom. Having grown tired of the slave family, the Emerson family sold them to the Blow family where the Scotts were finally set free. Sadly, Dred Scott enjoyed his freedom only for a short while as he died a year later in 1858.
There is an exhibit in the Old Courthouse where the courtroom in which this trial was heard is displayed. It was filled with chairs for the jury, two desks for the attorneys, a desk for a bailiff, and a clerk, a chair for witnesses, and a chair for the presiding judge. We even recreated the trial ourselves!
Apart from its historic value, the courthouse is a beautiful structure, with a beautiful dome designed by William Rumbold.
As part of LEAP, we are always seeking ways to expand our knowledge. So it is only fitting that we visit the monumental symbol of the westward expansion as our next stop.
The Gateway Arch, St. Louis
The westward expansion, aided greatly by the Louisiana Purchase, doubled the size of the United States in 1803. In honor of America moving into a more prosperous and hopeful state, The Arch was built as the “gateway to the west.” The Arch proudly stands at an intimidating 630 feet making it the tallest man-made monument in the nation.
The architect, Eero Saarinen, was an immigrant from Finland and was granted this opportunity after winning a contest by the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in 1947. After studying architecture at Yale, he believed this was the opportunity to establish himself as an architect in America and it was. Although the design for this structure was completed in 1947, the real structure was not completed until 1965! We learned that this monument was brilliantly made with 142 stainless steel triangle sections that are each 12 feet in length held together by tension bars and truss. It took 13 years to raise the 13 million dollars needed to fund this project. In 1967, a trans system was built inside the north and south legs of the arch allowing 40 people at a time to view the impressive view. It was through these same legs that we rode through in our capsules.
It was tremendously fun to be able to enjoy the arch’s view…
…and see parts of St. Louis that we looked forward to exploring.
Once back on the ground, we were also able to watch an informative documentary about the arch and its history. Expansion in 1803 meant a hopeful future for some and that is our motivation as we expand our education in college and on our trips.
Originally, we had planned to visit the city garden that was near the courthouse. With its luscious greenery, sparkling fountains, and marvelous art we were all prepared to relax and enjoy the perfect view of the arch it would offer. Or so we imagined. Unfortunately, time didn’t permit a trip to that destination.
Photo Ops in St. Louis
Remaining undaunted, we decided to go on a photo op adventure instead. Our first photo op stop was a Richard Haas mural. With two of our students having been interns at the Wynne Home, his work has a special meaning to us, and fourteen of his works dot the downtown of Huntsville.
None of the ones in Huntsville, however, cover the 110,000 square feet of the one adorning the Old Edison Stores Building in St. Louis.
Next, we headed over to the St. Louis Union Station Building, which is a beautiful structure, now a Doubletree by Hilton. But its interiors were what we found most intriguing…
…even the entrance to the bathrooms were interesting!
But the grand hall was the most beautiful part.
Across the street is the Milles Fountain, which is also impressive and offers a nice view of the exterior of the Union Station.
Amighetti’s in The Hill, St. Louis
After a morning of westward exploration and photo ops in St. Louis, we took a quick stroll down The Hill to Amighetti’s.
Located in what could be considered St. Louis’ Little Italy, the restaurant provided a prime venue for a satisfying lunch. Under what seemed an authentic tin-lined ceiling, we looked over the menu which included, but was not limited to, the Amighetti’s Special, a ravioli plate, and Little Bit of Italy sandwich.
As for the Amighetti’s Special, the sandwich accomplished its main goal; completely stuff its eater. Made up of ham, roast beef, and Genoa salami, blanketed with a rich layer of brick cheese on a 9 inch loaf of French style bread, it was a near challenge to take a bite. However, the extra effort to open one’s jaw was worth it, for every bite was an opportunity to taste the delicious sandwich. To improve on the experience, the menu presented St. Louis’ own Ritz root-beer. The effervescent, sweet, and smooth root-beer was an enjoyable company to Amighetti’s Special. To close off our lunch we also ordered a round of gelato. Within the group we were able to enjoy a cup of a sour, but satisfying lemon ice, cherry peach, strawberry, and vanilla, all of which we considered of excellent taste. As we stood up from our seat, with a content belly and a cooled off palate, we regained the energy needed to continue our St. Louis exploration at the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kraus Home.
On previous adventures, Alex and Ryan had already encountered this one-of-a-kind home a numerous times. Therefore, Professor Yawn decided to give them the opportunity to explore new land by the name of the St. Louis Art Museum. After dropping them off we rerouted to the Kraus home.
Frank Lloyd Wright Home at Ebsworth Park
Hidden behind lush greenery, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kraus Home is located in the upscale Kirkwood neighborhood of Saint Louis. Taking a short drive from the art museum, we arrived for a special tour. Normally, tours are not available on Wednesday afternoons, but the staff of the home were generous enough to arrange a tour for us today! Upon arrival, we immediately gaped in awe of the unique architecture and the natural beauty surrounding the home.
To begin our tour, we watched an introductory video about the Kraus home and its architect. Frank Lloyd Wright was born in 1867 and designed more than 500 structures throughout the United States. Represented in the Kraus home were parallelograms, hexagons, and horizontal lines, all of which accentuated the Usonian vision of Wright. The Kraus home sits on 10.5 acres of land now owned by Saint Louis County as part of its parks system.
In the mid 1940’s, Russell Kraus, a Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiast, wrote to Frank Lloyd Wright requesting him to design a small and less expensive home. Nearly ten years later in 1955, the home would finally reach completion. Mr. Kraus lived there until 2001, when a non-profit raised money to purchase the home and the land was deeded to Saint Louis County.
Throughout the tour, Professor Yawn was quick to point out the horizontal attributes of the home, noting even the grooves between the brick walls were designed to draw the eye horizontally instead of vertically. The Kraus home was designed as two hexagons partially overlapping one another. The entire home is made up of these two hexagons or its subcomponents (parallelograms and triangles).
Even the bed, for example, is a parallelogram.
We were fascinated throughout the entire tour. In order to preserve the beauty of the home, we were not allowed to take any photographs inside the home. However, we finished our tour with a few photos on the balcony…
…and the exterior.
St. Louis Art Museum
Meanwhile, in the St. Louis Art Museum, Ryan and Alex were being exposed to various forms of art.
One of the major aspects Missouri has to offer is the free admission into museums (excluding special exhibits). On the three levels of the museum, there were paintings, sculptures, and artifacts from as early as 500-600 BCE to as recent as present day and everything in between. There were pieces of art from all around the world including Asia, the Americas, Africa and Europe. Several famous artists’ works could be found at the museum including Monet…
…van Gogh, Picasso, Seurat…
…Degas, Rodin, Kandinsky, Warhol, Segal, O’Keeffe, and many more. Outside, there was a short path through a small sculpture garden, mostly made up of pieces from Henry Moore.
As we were leaving, a huge storm rolled in, cutting out our trip to a sculpture garden in the downtown area. So instead, we headed towards Bentonville, stopping for a photo-op at the world’s largest fork, and afterwards, stopping for dinner.
Dinner at Cafe Cusco, Springfield, MO
Being the home of the world’s largest fork…
…Springfield appropriately offers numerous eateries from which to choose.
We choose Cafe Cusco, a Peruvian restaurant that has all the attributes of good Peruvian food, without the risk of Zika.
With the buildings soaking in the last rays of the day on Commercial St., we crossed the threshold into the Peruvian cuisine restaurant. As Peruvian folk music sounded its harmonious guitar in the background, we looked through the menu. With a variety of “platos” or dishes, from vegan salads to meaty steaks, the appetite of some of us were attracted to the fried rabbit, fajita saltada, BBQ pork panca, and lomo saltado. First, however, we began our taste of Peru with a seafood dip and fried avocado appetizer.
As the initial dishes were cleared, we readied ourselves for our main course. Soon the table was enveloped in the spicy aromas of the various dishes. As for the lomo saltado, a dish of steak cooked with bell pepper and onions served with fries and rice, each scoop of the fork brought to one’s mouth the zesty spice of Peruvian flavor. Perhaps the best of the dishes, however, was the rabbit, which Ryan enjoyed immensely.
In all, the restaurant was more than enough to make us go back to the corner block venue as we were forever in love with these flavorful dishes. For the meantime however, it was time get back to our traveling van for we still had half a state left to ride through.