1876 Music Stand
In 1876, thousands of people assembled in Lafayette Park for the inauguration of the Lafayette Park Music Pavilion. A 30-piece band entertained the large crowd. The bandstand remained the centerpiece of the park for 20 years, hosting 2 concerts per week. It was one of the most ornate park structures ever built in the United States. On May 27, 1896 a devastating tornado struck St. Louis, destroying much of Lafayette Square and toppling the bandstand. The community suffered for almost a century, and the bandstand was lost, but not forgotten. Help us rebuild the bandstand.
The Conservancy selected Robinson Iron of Alexander City, Alabama to undertake the test phase of the fence restoration project. Robinson Iron took six sections of the fence from the southeast corner of the park to their workshops where they were taken apart so patterns could be made to replace broken and missing parts.
UPDATE: The six sections were returned to St. Louis and installed by Empire Fence Co. in the fall, 2016. The base plates will be installed later. When problems encountered in reassembling and installing the test sections have been resolved, the LPC will restore additional sections along Lafayette Avenue.
About one quarter of the pathways in the park were resurfaced in 2012 thanks to a grant from the Darden Foundation. The year before, the Grotto Bridge was reconnected to the pathway system for the first time in decades thanks to a grant from Alderman Phyllis Young. The gravel surface had become worn and uneven. The smooth asphalt surface was instantly popular with the persons who use it most frequently: walkers, children on bicycles, parents pushing strollers and dog walkers. Just hours after the Grotto Bridge was connected to the pathway system a wheelchair was seen on the bridge. This would have been nearly impossible before then. The LPC asked Steve Coffey, AIA, to prepare a set of detailed drawings on ways to upgrade the rest of the pathway system and his plans have been delivered to the Parks Department. When funding became available in 2015 from the sale of Park Bonds, the Board of Public Service let a contract for additional paving. Approximately 70% of the park’s pathway system has been renewed in recent years.
UPDATE: Many square yards of excess asphalt paving surrounding the Music Stand was removed by the Conservancy in Dec., 2016. The asphalt was replaced with soil which has been seeded. This will allow lawn seating to be much closer to the Music Stand when it is made ready for concerts.
Historic Entrance Gate Restoration
Fourteen of the heavy iron gates are missing from various entrances to the park. The Conservancy selected Perpetua Iron, LLC in the Old North St. Louis neighborhood to undertake restoration of the park’s gates. At the four corner entrances there are pairs of large gates in the center for vehicles and these are flanked on each side by a smaller pair of gates for pedestrians. Four large stone gate posts complete the set. The smaller sets of gates at the four middle entrances have just single gates flanking the middle pair. The LPC and Perpetua decided to start the project by replacing the two missing pedestrian gates at the Park & Mississippi Avenues entrances which is probably the most heavily used entrance to the park.
UPDATE: The western pair of pedestrian gates were installed in early Dec., 2016. One new gate, one old gate which was cleaned and repaired and two new non-supporting fences posts complete the set. A second new gate has been fabricated and work on the next set of gates will begin soon.