About The Lafayette Park Conservancy
The mission of the Lafayette Park Conservancy is to restore and preserve the historic legacy
of Lafayette Park, the first developed urban park in the Louisiana Purchase Territory,
and to raise funds for those purposes.
The Lafayette Park Conservancy received its charter on November 12, 2001, the 150th anniversary of the passage of Ordinance No. 2741 dedicating “Lafayette Square” as the first public park in the City of Saint Louis. The park’s name was changed to “Lafayette Park” in 1854, although the surrounding neighborhood continued to be known as Lafayette Square. The 1851 ordinance provided for a Board of Improvement that was charged with managing and improving the park, and with raising funds to do so. The Board of Improvement operated the park until 1905, at which time it ceased to exist and turned over park management to the city. Throughout the ensuing decades the city’s financial support for the park first waxed as the city grew enormously in the 19th century, then waned as residents migrated in the early 20th century due to the 1896 tornado damage, 1920s zoning changes, financial downturns in the Great Depression, and overwhelming suburban migration fever following WWII.
The Lafayette Park Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation organized under Missouri law to advocate and support the restoration and improvement of Lafayette Park and to raise funds for those purposes. Its mission closely resembles that of the original Board of Improvement. The Lafayette Park Master Plan, which the Conservancy helped to create in 2003, designates the Conservancy as the primary body for raising the private funds, grants and donations that will be needed to implement the Master Plan’s ambitious goals.
Working in partnership with the City of St. Louis Parks Department and the Lafayette Square Restoration Committee, the Conservancy develops specific proposals for the projects outlined in the Master Plan, allocates and raises funds for those proposals, and manages or coordinates their implementation. The Master Plan also charges the Conservancy to “continue to develop its outstanding commitment to and program of volunteer-maintained gardens,” which it accomplishes through the Flora Conservancy of Lafayette Park.
Today, the Conservancy is working to continue building regional awareness of and support for Lafayette Park throughout the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area and beyond, and to recruit members, volunteers and donors in support of its mission. The many thousands of visitors that Lafayette Park attracts annually, from not only Missouri and Illinois but across the nation and even around the world, attest to its uncommon beauty and historical significance as the Victorian centerpiece of the Lafayette Square neighborhood.
The Lafayette Park Conservancy
2023 Lafayette Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63104