The Lafayette Park Conservancy (LPC) was founded in 2001, on the 150th anniversary of the creation of Lafayette Park in Saint Louis, Missouri. The Conservancy’s mission is to preserve and restore the park’s historic legacy, and to raise funds for those purposes.
Lafayette Park was originally part of the St. Louis Common, a public pasture established in the 1760’s. When the Common was broken up and sold in 1836, thirty acres were reserved as a public square.
Established by city ordinance in 1851, Lafayette Park is the oldest developed urban park west of the Mississippi River. Because the park was used to drill local militias in its early years, it became known as the Parade Grounds. During the Civil War the park served as a campground for Union troops.
Near the end of the war, Maximillian Kern, a renowned landscape architect, was appointed Superintendent of Lafayette Park. Kern’s designed a Victorian strolling park that featured free band concerts, swan boat rides, impressively maintained floral displays, and the Grotto.
The great tornado of 1896 devastated Lafayette Park and the surrounding neighborhood. While some families rebuilt, others moved further west. The upcoming 1904 World’s Fair established Forest Park as the premier St. Louis park, hastening to the decline of Lafayette Park. Lafayette Square declined until the late 1960s when urban pioneers began to buy and restore its fine homes. Today, Lafayette Square is one of the premier St. Louis neighborhoods. The restoration of Lafayette Park provides a beautiful and historically important focus for the area.